Merriam-Webster: Rated xXx

It's like porn for intellectuals.

January 26, 2010

Censoring or destroying knowledge is a long tradition that goes back to such prestigious groups as Nazis, the Inquisition, and the crusade of those here in America to protect us from words, thoughts, and ideas that could corrupt us and make us worship the almighty Leviathan in his fiery pit of pitchforks. Many groups, particularly fundamentalist groups and even many moderate religious groups, still consider certain books too dangerous for children or the general population to read. The Harry Potter series, for example, is supposedly a gateway to dirty, dirty pagan worship and filthy thoughts.

These groups have their reasons, twisted as they are, for having these books banned from schools and libraries, so imagine my surprise when I read THIS:

That’s right, folks, now the evil masterminds at Merriam-Webster are conspiring to turn children into sodomizing Cthulhu-worshipers from the Twelfth Dimension. If you skipped the article, let me give you cliff notes version. A school district in California recently banned the famous dictionary because a parent found out it contained the phrase “oral sex” as well as a “graphic” description of said act.

fail owned pwned pictures
see more Epic Fails

If you have children in the room… they don’t have to leave. The definition in the book is “oral stimulation of the genitals.”

Wow. Typically you need an Adult Pass for that kind of graphic carnality.

Sex is, admittedly, one of the most taboo areas in any society. Very few cultures widely accept sex as something casual. Sex is acknowledged, but rarely openly discussed. However, it exists. Denying its existence doesn’t make it go away. I know that many won’t see it that way, but that’s what this school district did. They’re going to bury the information and hope their kids don’t find out about it from a purely academic book, a text with no agenda other than containing raw, factual information for reference. Maybe these kids can research it on their own. I hear you get some funny things if you type “oral sex” into Google.


-Google SafeSearch Won’t Help- by ~RaineSageRocks on deviantART

The other problem with the ban is that the parents didn’t ban some book from a sex ed class or a biology book that maybe went into a little too much detail. They banned the dictionary.

The DICTIONARY.

As far as basic books go, dictionaries are up there with thesauruses, atlases, and other books that sound awkward in the plural. The most telling part of the article is the acknowledgement by a member of the district that they will look through the book for other objectionable terms. Look, Big Brother, if you look for something to hate, you’re going to find it. It’s easy to hate. All you need is a justification. I’d love to follow this story more closely, maybe interview parents who support the move, and see how many more objectionable terms they can find in the dictionary.

Actually… I went to Merriam-Webster’s site for the latest in lexiconic pornography and general filth. You ready for this?

Cracker.

Ball.

Bed.

Knocker.

Coprophilia.

If you don’t know what the last one means, I suggest not Googling it. Just look it up in the dictionary.

At least the people who wanted to ban Harry Potter had some sort of religious backing as their evidence, however tenuous it was to reality, but this one’s actually giving me a headache trying to figure out. Normally, when a book is going to get banned, it’s for its subject matter and not individual words. At one point, the FCC didn’t fine stations for unforseable swears on live television. Now, one BLEEP and you’ve got to fork over a few thousand dollars. Sarah Palin tried to ban books while Mayor of Wasilla. She didn’t succeed, but I’m sure she had her reasons for asking the librarian what she could do to get certain books removed should the need arise. I’m sure I wouldn’t agree with them.

But this?

The dictionary? The DICTIONARY?!

The sad thing is that the articles detailing this incident all say that one parent called to complain. ONE. Too may times, I’ve heard people make arguments based on one dumb person speaking up or one anomaly in the data. It’s the same tactic creationists use to try and discredit carbon dating and, by extension, evolution. They will point to the most absurd or out-there finds from radiocarbon dating and hold them up and some kind of proof that the science doesn’t work. In reality, this just shows that somewhere along the line, something went wrong in an experiment, and science generally catches these mistakes and addresses the problem. Science acknowledges these mistakes and learns from them. It’s the beauty of the scientific method.

If one person objects to something, people cry about the tyranny of the mob. Yes, sometimes democracy isn’t the best policy. Sometimes the group is wrong. If it weren’t for a few people speaking out and forcing change, we’d still have legal segregation in this country. This, however, is different. This is one person decrying a book for containing a fact he or she found objectionable. Democracy is not “all or nothing.” We don’t hold elections until everyone votes the same way. We don’t make education decisions based on public opinion, or at least I don’t. I proudly say that I didn’t follow the regulations set forth in my teaching curriculum, and my students were better for it. We don’t even vote for American Idol by unanimous vote, so why do we rush to remove whatever one person or a small group deems offensive without any valid reason? Some things ARE offensive, but we can usually articulate some sort of response, explain our reasoning.

We can have a debate.

You know, there are entire populations killed in the Bible. I find blood and warfare disgusting. Let’s ban that one next. Hey, The Lord of the Rings has elves, dwarves, and feudal kingdoms, a thoroughly European construction. I think we should take it out of our libraries before we infect our youth with socialist ideas. I get my info on the world from Fox News. While we’re at it, I can’t pronounce names in German, so let’s not teach kids about World War II. I also don’t like cauliflower. Let’s ban cauliflower.

Is there a number all these yahoos call?

2 Replies to “Merriam-Webster: Rated xXx”

  1. I hate it when kids read Harry Potter and turn into dirt-worshipping Charlie Manson clones.

    I also hate it when my (admittedly nonexistent) 10 year old son reads the definition of “oral sex” in the dictionary and comes home a leather-loving male hooker.

Leave a Reply