Listen Some More


Censorship is complicated. It’s wrong but sometimes necessary. For instance, what concerned parent hasn’t lifted a sharp knife out of the hands of a toddler, or carefully helped a youngster use a match to light a candle rather than take the chance of that child discovering undeserved pain for himself?

Parents and teachers possessing a good communication relationship with a child will let him read almost anything. But probably not pornography.

How do you define pornography? Let me say right up front that I haven’t read Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK yet, so I can’t offer an opinion on its content.  In general terms, however, rape is brutal, violent, illegal… and for the victim, unspeakable horror. Most of us don’t need graphic words reproducing the act on a page to understand this. It’s possible to reflect the ugliness without describing its explicit details. What purpose beyond shock value do such words have in a novel?

I don’t choose to read it, but some erotic romance is very explicit. I believe it’s pornographic, but it isn’t censored.

Censorship is complicated.



Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

10 thoughts on “Listen Some More

  1. Censorship IS complicated. I think parents always have the right (and the responsibility) to decide what books/movies/videogames/etc are appropriate for their children. I DON’T think we have the right to decide what’s right for other people’s children. But then, does freedom of expression include abuse or pornography? No way, because it infringes on others’ rights and well-being. So maybe where it gets complicated is in defining pornography, etc. Oy, yes, it’s complicated!

    As for SPEAK , it’s an extremely well-written novel. The rape scene Mr Scoggins calls “porn” is anything but…. It’s not explicit, but it’s terrible and heartbreaking. It’s violence, not sex. And I think teenagers should read this, because date-rape happens, and if this story even slightly equips a victim to begin processing what’s happened, and to speak out, and to not be ashamed, then it’s worth reading. (And I think the evidence from Laurie’s poem shows it has helped many people.)

    *steps off soapbox* 😉

  2. Haven’t read Speak. Rape is awful. I once put down a novel written by John Grissham because the rape scene of a little girl opened the book and made me so sick I couldn’t read the rest of it. Even though there was no other such scene, the thought of it repulsed me so much that I couldn’t read it. Period. John Grissham is a great writer. His purpose in the scene may have been justified, but I’ll never know. Some horrors I cannot tolerate in my head.

  3. Sigh. I love to see how God can shine His light on even the most unspeakable subjects, which many perpetrate under the shield of darkness.

    If I see redemption and the Hand of God working through His promise in Romans 8:28, I LOVE to explore those hot potatoes many Christians won’t touch.


  4. As I recall, Speak is a powerful, well-written book. When I was teaching I had it on my shelf in my classroom library. I haven’t read it in years, but remember it as being very moving.

  5. I’m glad to be getting everyone’s feedback.

    I agree Laura, it really is powerful. I think LHA is an exceptional writer.

    Shari, defining pornography would be a good place to start, and I thought society had done that until I started researching what constitutes porn. Boy, was I wrong!

    I thought I’d read all of Grisham’s books, Carol Ann, but I don’t recall the one you mention. Maybe I blocked it out for the same reason you did. As much as I like mysteries, I don’t enjoy a lot of violence in the books I read. Of course, I realize that avoiding reading about the horrors in our world doesn’t mean they don’t exist, and I guess it’s good that some authors address them.

    Patti, our world certainly needs God’s light shed into its dark corners!

    Paul, it’s good to hear from people like you and Shari who have actually read SPEAK and can comment on its effect and value. Thanks.

  6. I looked it up, Carol. It was the first novel John Grisham wrote published in 1989 entitled A Time to Kill. The first scene in the book was that one. I wanted to read on but I couldn’t.

  7. I am a to each his own kind of guy. I do not believe in censorship as in you cannot produce or sell that. Yes I do believe in restriction for those underage as they are not granted full rights as dependents.

    The trouble I have is when something is one thing but is billed as another. Of course it can be different things to different people so again you are left with gray areas.

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