Thursday, January 28, 2010

How Low Can Censorship Go?

You have to laugh, otherwise you'll cry. A January 27th story on MSNBC.com relates how a school district in Riverside County, California, actually pulled the Miriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary after a parent complained that it defined the term "oral sex." A review committee decided to return the dictionaries to use, but allowed parents to choose a different dictionary for their children!! I can just picture it, "oh, no, Johnny, you can't use the book all the other kids are using, here's the dictionary your mother said you can use."

8 comments:

  1. Bahaha! You beat me to the punch! Give me my blog idea back!

    But seriously, THE DICTIONARY? I mean, if a kid is going to look up a word he heard the eight-grader say on the playground isn't looking it up in the dictionary better than, you know, Googling it?

    I have to side with another parent who has a kid at the same school, John Rogers: "You have to draw the line somewhere. What are they going to do next, pull encyclopaedias because they list parts of the human anatomy like the penis and vagina?"

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  2. Sorry to steal the thunder, Meghan! :-)
    But now you've given the censors an idea. You mean the encyclopedia actually discusses body parts and body functions?! We must protect our children from such corrupting influences!! Which will go first, do you think? The Britannica or World Book?

    (note to the literal minded: the above is SARCASM)

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  3. If I were sufficiently cynical, I suppose I could make money by publishing a child-safe dictionary for the censorious. (Oooh... that sounds like a good title: "The Child-Safe Dictionary for the Censorious." I like it). Writing the definitions is easy:

    Evolution. N. A 19th century heresy proposed by Charles Darwin and thoroughly refuted in the 20th by Michael Behe's theory of Intelligent Design.

    Sex. N. A mysterious process that happens between one man and one women, when those two have been married by both church and state, and only for the purpose of procreation.

    Harmful to Minors. NP. Any printed, visual, or audio materials that might teach a child anything that disagrees in any way with the parents' perception of the world.

    Obscenity. N. See Harmful to Minors.

    Protecting Children. NP. Steps taken to remove material that is Harmful to Minors (q.v.) from any library, school, store, or other location in which any person under the age of 18 might chance upon that material. Trumps any and all concerns about Free Speech.

    Censor. V. The process of protecting children (q.v.).

    Protected Speech. N. A class of expressive material that especially sinful people falsely imagine they have a constitutional right to access.

    Free Speech. N. Something for me, not for thee.

    etc.

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  4. Oh... I left out the most important definition:

    Internet Filter. NP. A software device that, through magical properties, correctly identifies any pornographic image, even though no two humans can agree on the definition of that term. Like garlic against vampires, the mere presence of an Internet Filter keeps all perverts and molesters out of schools and libraries. The use of Internet Filters is never infringes on anyone's Freedom of Speech, because the filter is protecting children from the severe emotional and cognitive harm they would obviously suffer if they happened to see a boob on the computer screen.

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  6. And do read Oliver Marre's scathing commentary in the Telegraph.co.uk:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/olivermarre/100006452/american-schools-ban-the-dictionary/

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  7. Bahaha! Those are fabulous! You should make more and use them as a satire piece :)!

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