Can Anyone #Speakloudly?

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

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.

  1. Jen says:

    “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jen Hayley, Jen Hayley, Scott Tracey, Scott Tracey, Leah Clifford and others. Leah Clifford said: Can anyone #speakloudly? […]

  3. Jess Granger says:

    He obviously did have a right to say what he wanted to say, and he said it. In doing so, he opened up a debate.

    I don’t know if he expected to be facing a debate team the size of this one, but if you’re going to speak, you have to be able to own and defend your words. While I haven’t read everything in the debate, and I’m sure some of it has probably gotten a little nasty, the bottom line is this.

    If someone makes a move on a chess board like this one, it’s your move next. So what is your move?

    Throw in the towel and not move your piece at all?


    Or play honestly and see who wins?

    Now I consider people getting nasty cheating, but any valid point out there is just a move in the game. One side will win. Either the book will be banned, or it won’t. But we still have to play the game.

    Thanks for the reminder to be civil though. 🙂 Let’s keep the debate honest.

  4. Leah Cypess says:

    I’ve been debating with myself about #speakloudly – SPEAK is one of my favorite books ever and that article was insulting and ridiculous. But I also feel like the writing community, for all the (many, many) good things about it, sometimes has a tendency to become a conformity-requiring mob, especially when the specter of censorship is raised.

    I respect the people engaging in #speakloudly, and I know they all truly believe in what they’re doing, but the net effect of everything they’re doing bears – to me – an uncomfortable resemblance to bullying. Which is why I decided I wasn’t going to retweet anything about #speakloudly. Until this post.

  5. Shelby says:

    Good post! I thought about that before I posted, too. I think most people who have weighed in would agree with what you’ve said. I certainly do. Mr. Scroggins is just as entitled to his opinion as I am to mine. I think what we’re really concerned with here is him arguing against the book without giving the real facts. We all know that most of his facts about SPEAK in the article were incorrect, but he said them anyway. That’s where I have a problem. Opinions must be based on fact, or they become mere lies. That’s why I agree with you. Let’s keep our side of debate honest. 🙂

  6. vic says:

    great point! everyone has the right to their own opinions! most definitely.
    but opinions can always be changed.
    not one of us knows everything.
    it is through communication- discussion, the written word- that we become more informed. that we hear and consider other opinions.
    hating on people for any reason- including disagreements- doesn’t help anyone.
    what helps is education.
    but no one can learn anything if we are all silent.
    and if we are uncivil and hateful, they will not listen.
    good point leah!

  7. […] you can visit the amazing Leah Clifford’s blog for the reminder that everyone is allowed to Speak Loudly, even those we don’t necessarily […]

  8. […] I wasn’t sure what I would talk about that hasn’t been covered. That is until I came across a post by Leah Clifford in which she talks about #SpeakKindly and it caused me to think about how we treat censors of the […]

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