Friday, January 29, 2010

A Global Embarrassment

I suspect the administrators of the Menifee Union School District had no idea what they were stepping into.  It's not their fault that the authors of the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary included a definition of the term "oral sex."  It's not their fault that nobody seemed to notice this for years on end, or that nobody made an issue of any of the other "racy" terms the dictionary manages to define.  It's not their fault that some parent finally decided to make an issue of it. In fact, the district is to be commended for giving the parent's challenge careful consideration, and is to be commended for making the correct decision to retain the dictionary.

In spite of these commendable actions, the school district is now a laughing stock. And not just in Riverside County or in California, it's now a laughing stock nation wide and even planet wide. This whole flap could have amounted to no more than an amusing anecdote about American culture, except for one little thing: the thick-witted yokels running the school actually pulled copies of the DICTIONARY from fourth and fifth grade classrooms.  Bad enough, but at least they made up for it by eventually getting some smarts and putting the books back, right?.  Well, not quite.  They had to add in accommodation for stupidity and insanity: parents can now decide whether or not their children will have access to the DICTIONARY in SCHOOL.

I've now seen news reports and scathing commentary about this in three languages and dozens of news outlets around the world.  Picked up by every major news outlet in the US, the story has since moved on to Canada, Australia, the UK, Spain, Mexico, and more.  A few commentators support pulling the dictionary.  Most, however, see nothing more than confirmation of their belief that the US is a very strange place.

1 comment:

  1. I feel bad for all the intelligent Americans that have to deal with idiots like this hitting the news.

    Worst. Spokespeople. EVER.