I read something that disturbed me today. Not just as an underpublished writer but as a parent. Censorship reared its ugly head once again.
In Humble, Texas, a suburb of Houston, there will be a Teen Lit Fest in January of 2011. It’s a great way for writers to connect with their readers. Due to that ugly head of censorship, Ellen Hopkins will not be there to greet them. She was un-invited because of a few people who objected to her books. And that’s sad for those kids.
I don’t want to address this from the writing point of view. My view is coming from a parental one. It’s quite simple really. If you object to what your children are reading, make sure you’ve read the material as well. Then TALK to them about it. Tell them why you are concerned with the material. Explain to your child that you don’t approve of it and why. You will accomplish more in this manner. And you will learn something about your child, what is going on in their mind and, probably more importantly, you will learn a little bit about yourself as well.
Most of the parents today remember the 80s with fondness. But do they remember the censorship our generation faced? Do they recall the battle between music and Tipper Gore? Most of the music I listened to, and that was also incredibly popular, was attacked by Gore and her throng of obsessed followers that believed this particular type of music would ruin the world.
Guess what? We’re not doing too bad.
Books have always been under the unrelenting eye of censorship. And they always will be. But, as parents, it’s up to us to talk to our kids about it. Don’t just shut them down. That will only drive the wedge of frustration that we would all rather avoid.
My hat goes off to Pete Hautman, Melissa de la Cruz, Tera Lyn Childs, and Matt de la Pena for supporting Ellen Hopkins by withdrawing from the event.
It’s just too bad that those kids won’t get to meet these great authors. They are the ones who lose when it comes down to it.