Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ensuring Stupidity

Another knee-jerk idiotic response to a "concerned parent" -- read: moronic idiot -- from a school district. This time, removing dictionaries from the schools because they (gasp!) define terms of a sexual nature.
Perhaps it's not that surprising that a mother in Menifee, California, asked the Menifee Union School District to ban all copies of the 10th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary after her child stumbled across the term "oral sex." What is surprising, indeed horrifying, is that district officials immediately complied with her request, and pulled all dictionaries off classroom shelves throughout the Southern California school district, which serves 9,000 kids, kindergarten through eighth grade.
They removed a dictionary.

Read that again: a DICTIONARY because a single parent had her delicate widdle sensibilities ruffled and demanded that everyone bow down to her carefully sterilized little world view. What a complete fucking mess.

Oh! The horror! That a school child might read a factual definition of a term in a dictionary. 'Cause we all know how damaging that could be. Might expose them to ideas . This goes beyond prudish or sensitive to ridiculous and awe-inspiringly stupid. That the school board actually responded to this twit of a woman by removing the dictionary and seriously considering a school-district-wide ban is absolutely mind-boggling to me.

I suppose it's a way to ensure that the next generation is even more stupid, closed-minded, and rigid than the current one.

Wait until she realizes that there's a whole, real, physical world out there that might possibly expose her and her child to...words! And actions! that she might not "approve" of! What then? Demand that the rest of the world be sanitized and bowdlerized? What about other words -- like breast and fornicate and homosexual and concupiscense and bondage and ..well, you get the idea. Let's eliminate all the words in the dictionary that might offend someone! I'm sure there are LOTS of words in that dictionary that this woman finds offensive and disagrees with. Oh, what her child might learn from reading the textbook definition of polygamy or gay or any of the millions of other words in our language for ideas and concepts she doesn't like. I'm sure there are thousands of ideas out there someone disagree with, not even just the sex ones! The possibilities are endless! We could have a dictionary with just a few pages of "approved" words!

Wait! What about enclopedias! They have articles about things she disapproves of! Better ban all those National Geographics before Jr gets a good look at a pair of naked breasts. Better ban the Bible, too, it's got some pretty racy passages. Oh, my god! The internet! They might have access to such things online! Ban it! Shut it down! The list is never-ending! (please imagine the previous few sentences read with breathless, wide-eyed fanaticism and enough sarcasm to drown a fish, ok?)

How pathetic that she can't even face answering a question from her child about what oral sex is, if the kid comes across it in the dictionary. How frightening that she truly thinks that it might be titillating or prurient. What is she going to do? Never let her kids leave the house or participate in life? I wouldn't want my hypothetical kids to be reading The Kinsey Report or Joy of Sex, but that's far different than not wanting them to read a dictionary that contained words related to human sexuality. That' takes prudishness to a whole new level I hadn't even imagined before.

A single person simply does not have the right to enforce censorship --and no waffling here, this is censorship of the highest order --of books. Exempt your own child from their education by refusing to allow them to read things you don't like, that cover subjects you are not comfortable with or disagree with, but that's where your control ends. I'll still mock you, of course, but that's your choice for your own kid. Learning about, reading about, thinking about subjects that are outside your comfort zone are important. Difficult, perhaps, but important to developing a critical, thinking, capable mind. Hiding from these topics and themes doesn't make them go away, despite people's best efforts.

But did you notice that this story (which is only the latest in a long line) only really worries about some knowledge? They're trying to carefully filter knowledge through their own lens. How telling is it that you never hear of anyone protesting a book or demanding censorship of a dictionary because they contained entries like genocide, torture, rape, famine, war, or hatred?

So her kid read the definition of oral sex (which, btw, is "oral stimulation of the genitals") and she just didn't want to have to address it with her kid like a responsible adult and explain it terms a kid would understand. No, she'd rather hamstring the education of an entire district's worth of school children because she could complain and the school-board pandered to her ridiculous demand. I think she's an idiot, but I blame the school district for actually responding to this with anything but derisive laughter and downright rejection. They're actually whining about having to 'read the dictionary' to discover if there are any other words that might be questionable. Common sense is apparently not in supply. 'What about the chiiiillll-ddrrruuun' here has run to ridiculous lengths.

Shame on the Menifee Schoool District! Knowledge and reason are the root of ethical society, not censorship.

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