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More on Houston

By now you know I was uninvited to the Humble (near Houston) TeenLitFest, set for January 2011. To date, four other authors—Pete Hautman, Melissa de la Cruz, Tera Lynn Childs and Matt de la Pena—have withdrawn, in a solid stand against censorship. When I originally blogged about the dis-invitation, one of the people commenting asked if it was fair to the other librarians (who are great supporters), or to the kids who won’t be seeing their favorite authors, all because my feelings were hurt.


I have thought long and hard about that question. The answer is, no, it’s not fair. All of us regret that our readers will be disappointed. But this has nothing to do with my feelings—or me. It has everything to do with censorship. As authors, we must maintain a unified voice against the idea that one person, or even a few, has the right to decide for everyone else what they are allowed to read, or what information they can have access to.


My books are already in Texas and, yes, that includes Humble. So I don’t believe uninviting me was about my books being for sale at the festival. That handful of people who were allowed to speak for Houston feared my voice. I have different ideas than they do, and they don’t want their children to hear them. I would ask them this—why not allow their kids access to different views, discuss why they don’t agree with them, then let them decide for themselves which speak to their hearts? Is parenting or teaching or checking out books supposed to be about indoctrination?


Imagine (God help us) if FOX was the only source of information we were allowed. We’d all be holed up with AK47s, waiting for the Obamanistas to try and make our children slaves of the Terrorist States of America. As you can tell, I am not a fan of Rush Limbaugh. But, much as I despise his message, he has the right to spout it. And you have the right to listen. My job, as a parent, is to tell my children why I think his message is wrong. It is not to ban him from everyone’s airwaves.


If you haven’t already, please read Pete Hautman’s blog about this. As he so eloquently says, “We can’t do nothing” about censorship. This isn’t fair. But it is the perfect chance to tell our readers that we stand united in favor of their right to read our books. Even if some people don’t think so.




( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 17th, 2010 11:42 pm (UTC)
Nevada SCBWI member responds about Humble "uninvite"
Thank you for your nuanced reflection on the TeenLitFest situation. Although it is true and unfortunate that a boycott will disappoint some, the broader issue of censorship is one that affects all students and all schools. As a teacher and writer, I applaud your willingness to "take the heat" to combat the chilling effects of censorship.
Aug. 18th, 2010 12:01 am (UTC)
I am so upset by this! :( I live in Houston and wish I would've had the opportunity to meet you. You're one of my favorite authors and have been for quite sometime. I can't say I'm surprised by the district though. Most are like that around here (I can't speak for any other part of the country.) I wrote my senior year English paper on censorship. It's something that is very close to my heart, as the ex-editor of my school's newspaper. I feel embarrassed that this happened to you in Houston. I am so sorry, I hope you come to another part of Texas soon or at least a state relatively near Texas because I would so be there. Keep your head up. You have so many admirers. Your books are edgy and daring. I love it, you take it to the next level that others are afraid of sometimes.
Aug. 18th, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
I can't believe this happened to you again. I remember when it happened last year in, where was it? Oklahoma? And only days before the actual event? People can't seem to understand that their parenting should only extend to their own children and not everyone else's.

I'd love it if you could take a look at my Ban This! even that I'm having in September. It's basically a rallying of book bloggers and whoever else wants to participate to stick it to book banners. This kind of insanity needs to stop and it's shocking that we're still having to deal with it in 2010.

And I loved your assessment of FOX, by the way. :)

Aug. 18th, 2010 12:18 am (UTC)
I am mad for you and agree with everything you said.
Aug. 18th, 2010 12:27 am (UTC)
I bow, the deeper because of your recognition that someone who holds differing views has the right to speak. That is the mark of a deeply democratic person. Thank you. (That said, I feel exactly as you do--that it is a parent's job to tell my child--but only my child, not someone else's--why I think Rush Limbaugh is wrong.)
Aug. 18th, 2010 10:39 am (UTC)
What they did was very rude....and I think that is the perfect example of ignorant people. They are afraid of what they doesn't know or understand.

I think parents should be proud that their sons are reading. In this time it's still difficult to make a teenager read, instead of partying, drinking, taking drugs, etc. And if they read about it and learn, well, I don't see the problem.

Don't worry too much about this people. They might think they are right and they are trying to protect their children by not showing them the real world. But that's wrong, for me, parents should prepare their children for everything we can find in this crazy life!
Aug. 18th, 2010 06:50 pm (UTC)
Teen Lit Fest
Ellen, as a mother and as a writer here in Houston, you have my support. Parents and educators who stick their heads in the sand aren't doing their kids any favors. I said as much in my e-mail to him. (I promise, no four-letter words were involved.)

I hope enough other parents write and convince him how short-sighted his policy is.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )