Sunday, June 5, 2011

WSJ's Meghan Cox Gurdon hates free speech

Book burning
Click here for Sherman Alexie's response to the WSJ article
Click here for YA author Cheryl Rainfield's response to Ms. Gurdon's, uh hem, article.

What a surprise: a newspaper full of editorials that still advocate women rocking it like it's 1955 has a weirdo telling us about the current state of YA literature. So a lot of YA is dark. Yes, that's true. A lot of YA books address issues that make people uncomfortable. This is also true. A lot of YA books include profanity, drug references, and references to sex. That's also true.

The problem isn't that realistic YA literature includes this type of material. The real problem is it reflects the world we live in and teens need these books to cope because a lot of adults around them would rather shut out reality with Muzak and air freshener. Then, a classmate suicides or brings a gun to school and the PTA gets together and goes, "How did this happen?"

Deciding what other people should and shouldn't read is a privilege that has been held by some of history's great greats. Hitler burned a lot of books. He's not someone I look up to, but I guess Meghan does. I'm sure he was just concerned about the youth. When you're busy taking over the world, you can't risk a future of free thought. Prison wardens also like to censor books, so why shouldn't parents? Why bother discussing them? After all, this is clearly stuff the kid shouldn't even be thinking about. No discussion necessary.

I think it's hilarious that on the same page as this editorial, The Journal includes a list of books they do recommend for young readers. Ship Breaker. Really? It's a good book but it's full of child abuse, neglect, violence, gore, and attempted murder. I guess putting it on the list for boys makes it okay? I'm confused. Fahrenheit 451 is also an appropriate choice for this list. It's important for teens to understand the future you want for them.