Friday, January 29, 2010

Fear of Sex Leads to More Book Bannings

You'd think that by the beginning of the second decade of the twenty-first century, book bannings, especially for matters involving ... gasp ... sex ... would be ancient history (or at least history). But no. Parents of middle school students are still demanding that books be removed from school libraries and curricula because of references to sex or, even worse, descriptions of actual, real, honest-to-goodness female body parts.

First, we have the events in Menifee, California, reported in the Press-Enterprise:
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.
Think about that one for a moment. A dictionary had a definition for a sexual act that a parent found offensive, so the dictionaries were removed from the classrooms. Really? Come on. Who didn't look up "bad words" in the dictionary when they were a kid? Besides, wouldn't you prefer that kids get a clinical, correct definition for certain terms than the more likely (and probably wrong) definitions that they'll undoubtedly learn from classmates? But more troubling is the fact that, after a complaint by a single parent, the school removed the dictionaries. In wonder if that dictionary included definitions of words like penis or vagina. Speaking of which...

According to the Culpepper, Virginia Star Exponent, The Diary of a Young Girl (The Diary of Anne Frank) is being removed from the Culpepper school system's curriculum. Why? According to The Washington Post, it was removed because of the following passage:
There are little folds of skin all over the place, you can hardly find it. The little hole underneath is so terribly small that I simply can't imagine how a man can get in there, let alone how a whole baby can get out!
So, because one parent complained about two sentences in one of the most important, most beloved books of the twentieth century, the school system pulled the book. To that one parent, the perceived harm of his or her child reading about a teenage girl, who knew she would probably die, wondering about her vagina, sex, and birth, is reason enough to prevent the rest of the children in the school system from reading a book about hate and love, heroism and hope in the face of the Holocaust.

I'm curious how the parents that complained about the dictionary or The Diary of Anne Frank would feel if their child had access to a book with the following:
He shall lie all night between my breasts.... His left hand under my head, and his right doth embrance me.... Thy young breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lillies.... Come, blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.... My beloved put his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. Thy stature is like a palm tree, and thy breasts are clusters of grapes. I will go up the palm tree, and grasp the boughs. I am a wall, and my breasts are as towers.
Um, no wait. Those descriptions of sex are probably OK. After all, they're from The Bible (Song of Solomon). I guess it's only non-Biblical sex that probably drives these parents to demand censorship.

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