Saturday, February 17, 2007

Oh, America, get a grip:

With One Word, Children's Book Sets Off Uproar

The word "scrotum" does not often appear in polite conversation. Or children's literature, for that matter.

Yet there it is on the first page of "The Higher Power of Lucky," by Susan Patron, this year's winner of the Newbery Medal, the most prestigious award in children's literature. The book's heroine, a scrappy 10-year-old orphan named Lucky Trimble, hears the word through a hole in a wall when another character says he saw a rattlesnake bite his dog, Roy, on the scrotum.

"Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much," the book continues. "It sounded medical and secret, but also important."

...The book has already been banned from school libraries in a handful of states in the South, the West and the Northeast, and librarians in other schools have indicated in the online debate that they may well follow suit.

... Wendy Stoll, a librarian at Smyrna Elementary in Louisville, Ky., wrote on the LM_Net mailing list that she would not stock the book. Andrea Koch, the librarian at French Road Elementary School in Brighton, N.Y., said she anticipated angry calls from parents if she ordered it. "I don't think our teachers, or myself, want to do that vocabulary lesson," she said in an interview. One librarian who responded to Ms. Nilsson's posting on LM_Net said only: "Sad to say, I didn't order it for either of my schools, based on 'the word.'" ...

If you want to put a warning sign on the book at the library, fine -- but excluding it altogether? For one utterly clinical word?

Back in the early '80s, a little boy in the movie E.T. called his brother "penis-breath." This did not lead to the collapse of American civilization -- heck, we even went on to win the Cold War. Many children who heard that shocking expression are now productive adult citizens who vote and own property; some, no doubt, are even Republicans.

Ah, but it's the Bush era. I'm sure Dinesh D'Souza would tell us that a society that allows the word "scrotum" in a children's book is just asking to be nuked by jihadists. Steven Speilberg even cut "penis-breath" from a 2002 re-release of E.T., possibly out of fear of just such an eventuality.

Would the fact that male dogs have scrotums truly be a shock to, say, any kid who's growing up on a farm? Or any kid anywhere who's ever watched a dog engage in personal grooming?


UPDATE: The non-Fox News Roger Ailes makes note of a couple of other texts you might need to keep away from the children if you're shielding them from this book.

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