literaticat posts on Chris Crutcher having his work–and speech banned yet again. Like Katherine Paterson for Bridge to Terabithia–like many authors, I suspect–his work seems to get banned not for content or subjects covered, but for language.

So here’s a rant: Grownups, you need to chill out about this already. All of you. I’ll ignore the fact that most kids hear worse at movies and in their day to day lives, because that’s not the point, really. The point is–since when has the occasional bit of harsh language actually hurt anyone?

I’m all for saving the harshest words for when I really mean them, and for generally trying to set an example by using basically clean language in my day to day life. But I’m not going to go crazy doing it. There are things out there that really can hurt children–accidents, poverty, abuse, poor nutrition, casual cruelty–and if I want to protect kids–or adults–those are the things I’m going to look to. I have limited resources, and so does everyone else. I’d like to ask those involved in book-banning and speech-banning campaigns: Why are you wasting your time on this, instead of volunteering a few hours where it really matters? Become a Big Brother/Big Sister, or a Scout leader. Read to kids a few hours a week. Make a donation to your local food bank. Volunteer at a shelter or building houses. Get to work actually making this a better place for kids to live in. There’s a million ways to do it.

Because unlike so many things, hearing the occasional foul word doesn’t hurt people. Everyone of us has heard them, as kids and as adults, and we’ve come through unscathed. Do you really think today’s kids are less resilient than you were? If someone has ever been harmed–really harmed, deeply, lastingly–by reading a nasty word, or hearing it spoken in passing, I’d love to know about it.

Otherwise: chill out. There may be words out there that can do harm, but these aren’t them.

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