We can stop worrying about Harry Potter, Catcher in the Rye, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower when it comes to banning books. Folks, we have bigger fish to fry: Merriam Webster’s Dictionary.
After a parent complained about an elementary school student stumbling across “oral sex” in a classroom dictionary, Menifee Union School District officials decided to pull Merriam Webster’s 10th edition from all school shelves earlier this week.
School officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the “sexually graphic” entry, said district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus. The dictionaries were initially purchased a few years ago for fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms districtwide, according to a memo to the superintendent.
“It’s just not age appropriate,” said Cadmus, adding that this is the first time a book has been removed from classrooms throughout the district.
…Really? The dictionary is now corrupting our youth? Give me a break. First of all, how many kids sit down with the goal of reading the entire dictionary and will accidentally stumble upon a naughty word? Or more importantly, who fucking cares if they do? Heaven forbid if parents have to explain things to their children. Are we going to require gender specific dictionaries now, so little girls can’t accidentally find the word “penis”?
There are already plenty of fifth graders who know stuff about sex. The dictionary seems like a fairly benign source of information when you consider where else they’re hearing things from – or not hearing things from, which is often the most dangerous scenario. I was in 5th grade during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, so I quickly learned what oral sex was. Did I immediately run out and start sucking dick? Of course not.
Thankfully some of the parents in that town are rational human beings, so hopefully the dictionary won’t remain banned:
“Censorship in the schools, really? Pretty soon the only dictionary in the school library will be the Bert and Ernie dictionary,” said Emanuel Chavez, the parent of second- and sixth-grade students. “If the kids are exposed to it, it’s up to the parents to explain it to them at their level.”
I dunno. Bert and Ernie are two dudes living together. That may be a bit to homoerotic for small children to handle.