I have to come the conclusion that the world is coming to an end when parents are trying to take dictionaries out of classrooms because the definition of a sex act is well...too sexy.
Apparently, in California, a parent of a kid who attends Oak Brook Elementary is up in arms because the definition of oral sex in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is too explicit.
Now here's the definition of "oral sex" in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, if anyone's interested.
oral stimulation of the genitals
More specifically, here is the definitions of cunnilingus...
cunnilingus, New Latin, from Latin, one who licks the vulva, from cunnus vulva + lingere to lick; cunnilinctus, New Latin, from Latin cunnus + linctus, act of licking, from lingere — more at lick
fellation-, fellatio, from Latin felare, fellare, literally, to suck
Now granted, there's one very vocal but unidentified parent who is upset that the dictionary descriptions of those forementioned sex acts are pretty descriptive. And it's got to be traumatic for Little Tommy, who's trying to look up a word like "cunning" or "felt" and then all of the sudden goes home and asks Mom, who's trying to cook dinner, exactly what a vulva is and why someone would want to lick it.
I can imagine that it may create a dialogue that neither Mom nor Little Tommy is quite ready for at that particular point.
Many, many years ago I was also a fourth and fifth grader. When I had to use a dictionary (which I seldom recall doing because ever since I was a kid I've been a voracious reader), I would look for the word that I was trying to find the definition for and that was that. Now maybe there are some kids who actually read the dictionary, like Poindexter Jones over there, with his horn-rimmed glasses, pocket protector and short pants. But that’s a different story for a different time.
And here’s a quote from a spokeswoman from the school district.
"The dictionaries have not been banned," said Betti Cadmus, a spokeswoman for the Menifee Union School District in conservative southwest Riverside County, on Monday. "There was a growing concern by parents that some of the words were not age-appropriate."
I do understand the importance of these things being age appropriate, but let’s look at this way. Odds are that these kids are hearing far worse and offensive things that “fellatio”, “cunnilingus” and “oral sex” while watching South Park in their room at night when Mom & Dad think that they’ve gone to bed.
Have we really reached an age of such political correctness where we are trying to take dictionaries - the same dictionaries that schoolchildren use for spelling bees, mind you? - out of the classroom because the definition of a word is offensive? Should we be printing out special dictionaries just for grade school kids that DON’T have the forementioned words in them? Or should the definition be child-friendly?
cunnilingus, New Latin, from Latin, something that you’ll find out about when you’re older and in high school or junior high at the least, or from watching a particular SNL sketch with Christopher Walken as a retired colonel named Angus*.
fellation-, fellatio, none of your business, see cunnilingus and you‘ll find out when you‘re older.
I over-exaggerate in order to get my point across.
And it seems as though the only person in this whole debacle who can understand both sides of the situation is the school board president, Rita Peters.
"I think it's absurd that we will remove dictionaries from our library, especially because these dictionaries are the same ones we use in our spelling bees," she said. "I think we are approaching censorship with this. If they ban this book, they better clean house and go through all of them. What's good for one is good for all. I think we will open a big can of worms if these books are banned. It's the dictionary, after all - come on."
Thank you, Rita. Thank you. What’s the next step, abolishing libraries because something that some kid reads may be considered to be slightly inflammatory?
To finish with a quote that I’ve slightly paraphrased from Field Of Dreams that I found especially accurate, I give you this.
They're talking about banning books again! Really subversive books, like "The Wizard of Oz"...”the Diary of Anne Frank - and the dictionary.”
This is the week's LJ Idol post. This week we are paired off with a fellow contestant. My partner, phoenixejc's post is here. And thanks for your support!
*Just in case anyone is not familiar with the particular SNL sketch that I've mentioned, you can watch it here