Saturday, October 02, 2010

Ellen Hopkins' Anti-Censorship Manifesto

Thanks to Jen for sending this great article from the Huffington Post about one author's experience dealing with censorship.

Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank and Glass, who explores controversial topics in her writing such as addiction, prostitution, suicide and violence has encountered her share of censors who have lobbied to ban her books and cancel speaking engagements. In this article she eloquently describe her work and events she was invited to speak at and then subsequently blocked by various authority figures. 

Interestingly, in Hopkins' experience librarians have both rallied to her defense, pushing to have her speak to their students and communities, as well as acting to prevent her from speaking at their schools. At a recent teen lit event Hopkins was removed from the speakers panel due to complaints about her subject matter. Subsequently the event was cancelled when the other YA authors scheduled refused to support an event that would censor a member of their community. 

At the end of this article Hopkins includes the fantastic Manifesto she wrote for Banned Books Week 2009 I want to reproduce here in it's entirety - click here for a pdf version

Manifesto 
To you zealots and bigots and false
patriots who live in fear of discourse.
You screamers and banners and burners
who would force books
off shelves in your brand name
of greater good.
You say you're afraid for children,
innocents ripe for corruption

by perversion or sorcery on the page.
But sticks and stones do break
bones, and ignorance is no armor.
You do not speak for me,
and will not deny my kids magic
in favor of miracles.
You say you're afraid for America,
the red, white, and blue corroded
by terrorists, socialists, the sexually
confused. But we are a vast quilt
of patchwork cultures and multi-gendered
identities. You cannot speak for those
whose ancestors braved
different seas.
You say you're afraid for God,
the living word eroded by Muhammed
and Darwin and Magdalene.
But the omnipotent sculptor of heaven
and earth designed intelligence.
Surely you dare not speak
for the father, who opens
his arms to all.
A word to the unwise.
Torch every book.
Char every page.
Burn every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.

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