ellenhopkins (ellenhopkins) wrote,

On Censorship, Semantics, the Wall Street Journal and Oklahoma

So you all are privy to the hoopla in Norman OK last week. If you’re not, check out my last blog, and here’s a short recap. I was supposed to do a school visit at Whittier Middle School. A parent went in complaining about content in CRANK and GLASS. GLASS was pulled off the shelves for review. I understand that there is necessarily a review process if a parent complains about “age-inappropriate content.” However, the parent went on to say she didn’t want me to do my school visit because, and I quote, “I don’t want ANY children to see Ellen Hopkins speak.”

The school superintendent decided I couldn’t speak at any school in his district, so I instead did a talk at the Hillsdale Baptist College (great irony, huh?). Some 150 kids, parents, teachers and librarians showed up. But not one member of the book review committee, or the superintendent, or the worried parent bothered to come listen to my message, which is basically, “the choices you make as young adults will affect you for the rest of your life.”

Now, that might have been that, but a local news anchor, Kelly Ogle, decided to get his fifteen SECONDS of fame by doing an on-air editorial. He admitted he didn’t bother to read GLASS, but by scanning the book (and BTW, a station intern likely did that… I’m guessing even scanning would have been too much effort), he found 17 f-words and…. oh, oh…. sex. He misquoted the book, saying Kristina talks about having sex with truckers. Uh, no. That was actually Robyn, her friend, who worked at a house of prostitution to support her own habit. And (not that it makes any difference to him, since he doesn’t care WHY I wrote those books), it was to illustrate the very low places addiction can take you. (BTW, that was a real person, in a real situation, and her words were real.) CRANK and GLASS are meant to show, in a very real way, the places addiction can take you. Because I hope to turn people away from choosing to use [choices].

At the end of his op-ed segment, Ogle rather gleefully stated that now the books are off the shelves [really? thought there was a review process? minds made up before it or what?] in the middle school, he was going after the high school. Censorship continues to be alive in Norman OK, and now it’s on TV, in the form of a small market newscaster, hoping to make a bigger name by confronting … uh, me.  Beyond Mr. Ogle, as we move into Banned Books Week, safelibraries.com and the much more visible Wall Street Journal claimed this week that there is no such thing as banned books, because they’re available SOMEWHERE. Excuse me? If a book is pulled off a library shelf, it is banned from that library. The WSJ guy also claims “censorship” only applies to government censoring. The definition I found is “the suppression or attempted suppression of something regarded as objectionable.”

No censorship in this country? Because a vocal minority found President Obama objectionable, he was recently banned from classrooms. And because one person found Ellen Hopkins objectionable, she was recently banned from classrooms. [Great company I’m in, thank you very much!] Semantics can’t change that. Books ARE banned in America, and people, big and small, are censored every day.

Some content in GLASS may be too much for some 13-year olds. But let’s face it. They hear the f-word and worse in school every day. Not to mention on TV, music, video games, Internet, etc. Truth is, many middle school-aged kids are already doing drugs, or thinking about it. Some have already had consensual sex, been raped or sexually abused. Others have self-injured, experienced eating disorders or considered suicide. If my books can help even one of them, they BELONG on bookshelves in every library.

So now I’m asking for your help. Over the years, thousands of you have messaged me, telling me why my books have been important for you. That is why they belong on bookshelves. What I’m asking is for you to send the same messages to some people. Please be respectful. If you use bad language, your opinion will be dismissed by the very people we’re trying to make understand.  You don’t have to sign your name, but if my books have touched you, please send the reasons why to:







 (The last two are friends. I don’t want the other two to be able to claim they never heard from you. Susan and Karin, you might be swamped, but please put all the messages into a file.)

 Thank you, everyone. If we don’t keep fighting the good fight, censors will win, and they will use semantics to do it if they can. 

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