I’m afraid to speak up. What will people think of me? My friends, the people I admire. What will they say?
Wouldn’t it be easier to stay quiet?
But what I keep coming back to, what keeps going through my head is what I will think about myself if I don’t speak up. And so I’m choosing to #speakloudly.
But not in the way you’d expect.
Get together any group with similar opinions and you have a community. It’s easy on the internet. People meet up, band together. Sometimes they get the opportunity to do great things, like fundraisers and auctions. The last few days, the writing community has been fighting against book banning by rallying behind Laurie Halse Anderson. Her book, Speak, was challenged (well, more than challenged, it was insulted) by Wesley Scroggins here.
I want to say, first off, that a book like Speak is important. I can’t imagine how many lives that single book has changed. But Wesley Scroggins feels differently. He doesn’t share my opinion. He uses the comparison that rape scenes in Speak are like “soft pornography” which is a terrible choice of words. That the book is filthy and immoral and should be banned. He’s wrong.
The writing community came together to #speakloudly against Scroggins. And we make a hell of a lot of noise. Not only did our voices speak loudly… They screamed. #Speakloudly. Two words. Speak Loudly. They bloomed from a hashtag to a cause to a war. A battle cry.
Dozens of blogs popped up, their links spreading across Twitter like wildfire. Shared proudly, tweeted and retweeted. Ones that rip apart his grammar and make his opinion seem obsolete. How can he be so small minded, and expect to be taken seriously? How can he not realize how terrible he is? Another part of me wondered if he knew what could happen and wrote the article anyway. Honestly, to write an opinion like that, he was asking for this kind of backlash, wasn’t he? Maybe he wants kids kept sheltered from things that make him uncomfortable. Maybe he has reasons, or maybe we could have changed his mind, opened it a bit. No, I thought. That’s naïve of me. Plus, Wesley Scroggins wrote down his opinion. He made the first move. He deserves what he gets, right? He had to know we’d stand up for our words, for the things we believe in.
But why can’t he?
I debated all day. I told myself it wasn’t my place. That I should stay silent. Stay with the crowd! And so I did. I stayed silent hoping someone else would step up, speak loudly.
For Mr. Scroggins. For his right to his opinion. For someone to point out the irony in silencing him.
Scroggins saw something he thought was wrong, and decided to speak up. Everyone has a voice. Free speech is the very POINT of #speakloudly. Do I agree with Wesley Scroggins? No. Not a bit. But I do believe he has as much a right to his opinion as I do to mine. Everyone should be able to #Speakloudly.