Publishers Weekly has come out with an update on the Ellen Hopkins situation after she was uninvited from the Teen Lit Fest in Humble, Texas. Here are a few excerpts from the article:
Blogs, Twitter, and Facebook have been abuzz in the last 24 hours with news that four YA authors have pulled out of the annual Teen Lit Fest in Humble, Tex., a Houston suburb. The authors withdrew in support of writer Ellen Hopkins, who announced in a blog post last week that she had been disinvited from the festival, which is organized by the Humble Independent School District, and is scheduled for January 2011. In the post, entitled “Censorship Bites,” Hopkins announced that her invitation had been revoked after a middle-school librarian and parents approached a superintendent and the school board about her participation. Hopkins’s novels in verse deal with gritty subject matter: her Crank series, which concludes next month with Fallout, centers on meth addiction, while her 2009 novel, Tricks, was about teen prostitution. “We all feel badly that we’re making this stand,” Hopkins told School Library Journal. “We don’t want our readers to feel like we’re punishing them. But this is about having the right to read our books, and these people don’t have the right to say you can’t.”
In the last few days, four authors who were also scheduled to appear at the festival—Pete Hautman, Melissa de la Cruz, Matt de la Peña, and Tera Lynn Childs—announced in quick succession that they were also withdrawing. “What is important is that a handful of people – the superintendent, the one (one!) librarian, and “several” (three? five?) parents – took it upon themselves to overrule the vast majority of teachers and librarians and students who had chosen one of the most popular YA authors in America to be their headliner,” wrote Hautman in a blog post. “That is a form of censorship as damaging and inexcusable as setting fire to a library.” And on her blog, de la Cruz wrote, “I believe that as a writer, we have to stick up for each other, and against censorship, and against people who want to tell everyone else what to think, what to read, what to watch.” Other authors scheduled to appear at the festival are Sharon Flake, Brian Meehl, and Todd Strasser.
Thank goodness for the support of other authors that are willing to take a stand against the stupidity of censorship in such a harmful and disturbing way. To have the views of three or possibly five parents take over an entire festival because of what they believe teens should be reading is despicable (and I don't use the word lightly.) This situation has me typing with pure disdain at the idea that elegant and prolific authors can be besmirched by the closed-mindedness of only a few members of the public.
Please feel free to comment if you think I'm overstepping my bounds as a blogger here, but also feel free to comment if you agree or have anything to say about this injustice. Thanks.
Please read these books! They're important and deserve attention.