Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Censoring the Dictionary

"A school district in Riverside County has pulled the Merriam-Webster's 10th edition dictionary from school shelves because it includes the term oral sex. The Menifee Union School District took the action last week after a parent complained about the dictionary.

'It's just not age-appropriate,' said school spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the newspaper. 'It's hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we'll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature.'

The school board will decide later whether to return the dictionaries to the classrooms. One board member told the Press-Enterprise that there are probably more objectionable terms in the dictionary."
Los Angeles Times Blog

Wow, really? We are going to start censoring dictionaries because they contain sexual language? This is an entire school district, not just an elementary school. I am flabbergasted that people are this uptight about providing information to school-age children about the most natural thing in the world.

If a child has the notion to find the definition for oral sex in a dictionary, then it's likely time they learn what it is...because they are already thinking about it! Besides, it's not as if they can't ask a fellow schoolmate or look it up on the Internet. When are people going to realize they can't "protect" their children from learning about sex? And learning from a dictionary and their parents in an appropriate context is a hell of a lot better than learning from their peers with the misinformation that abounds? Take it from someone whose mom kept her out of sex ed and got pregnant at age 16 because she didn't know anything about birth control...it is never a matter of keeping children from learning about sex, it's a matter of who they learn about sex from!

Here's a more comprehensive report on the issue.

1 comment:

Toby said...

I was pretty surprised to read this in the news, and I think the parents have been acting in a misguided way. It insults the kids' intelligence to think that this ban was somehow shielding them from forbidden vocabulary. As a youngster I also liked to explore the dictionary for naughty words like "fuck" just for the novelty of seeing them in print. Those kids knew what they were looking for. The parents are just being reactionary in the face of how smart their children have become...without their help.