I Twittered about it, I linked to it on Facebook, and now I think I shall inflict this upon you in a Mr. Crankypants blog post, gentle reader. Here's the headline and a couple of paragraphs from the Southwest Riverside News Network:
Menifee USD pulls dictionaries due to explicit word.
School officials in the Menifee Union School District pulled all copies of the book from its fourth and fifth grade classrooms last week.
A parent complaint that a dictionary in her son’s classroom at Oak Meadows Elementary contained the term and definition for “oral sex” prompted school officials in the Menifee Union School District to pull all copies of the book from its fourth and fifth grade classrooms last week.
Copies of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition (published in 1994), were taken from a recommended reading list and put into use in district classrooms a few years ago to accommodate higher level readers, said Betti Cadmus, spokeswoman for the district.
Oh, sure, I could spend the rest of this post ranting about ridiculous levels of prurience. Or I could rant about the bizarre insistence that our society seems to have in exposing children to vast oceans of violence while insisting that the slightest hint of sexuality will corrupt them forever. I could discuss the salacious seas of sexuality that flood our media, even our purported children's programming, and examine whether therein lies a much greater threat to our nation's collective innocence.
Perhaps I could segue into a diatribe about the utter failure of abstinence-only sex education programs -- I use the phrase "sex education" loosely here, since as near as I can tell those programs are designed to inculcate"sex ignorance" -- in preventing pregnancy, preventing the transmission of STDs, or in encouraging any actual abstinence. That might perhaps indicate the effect, or lack thereof, that removing dictionaries with the objectionable phrase may have on the behavior of these children in the future.
Heck, I could just rant about the fact that shortly before these current fourth- and fifth-graders were born every newspaper in America seemed to carry the phrase "oral sex" on its front page. But I like to think we shan't go through that sort of thing again.
However, I won't rant about any of those things, gentle reader. Instead, I shall simply point out that the editor who wrote the headline for that story in the Southwest Riverside News Network used the word "word" to describe a two-word phrase.
Alas, that there are no longer any dictionaries in Menifee, so that we could see whether his usage of the word "word" was correct.