[image: still of Professor Farnsworth from Futurama with text that reads “I DON’T WANT TO LIVE ON THIS PLANET ANYMORE”]
“Perhaps it’s not that surprising that a mother in Menifee, California, asked the Menifee Union School District to ban all copies of the 10th edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary after her child stumbled across the term “oral sex.” What is surprising, indeed horrifying, is that district officials immediately complied with her request, and pulled all dictionaries off classroom shelves throughout the Southern California school district, which serves 9,000 kids, kindergarten through eighth grade.”
So many facepalms
None were removed or banned. From the LA Times back in 2010, when it happened:
“The dictionaries have not been banned,” said Betti Cadmus, a spokeswoman for the Menifee Union School District in conservative southwest Riverside County on Monday. “There was a growing concern by parents that some of the words were not age-appropriate.”
A panel of parents, teachers and administrators will meet later this week to comb the dictionary for potentially graphic words or definitions and issue a report within a month.
“They will determine the extent to which the dictionaries support the curriculum, the age appropriateness of the materials and its suitability for the age levels of the students,” Cadmus said. “It’s not going to be an arbitrary decision.”
The dictionaries were in the reference section of the fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms.
School board President Rita Peters supports the committee but believes the district was pressured into forming it because of one unidentified but vocal parent.
“I think it’s absurd that we will remove dictionaries from our library especially because these dictionaries are the same ones we use in our spelling bees,” she said. “I think we are approaching censorship with this. If they ban this book, they better clean house and go through all of them. What’s good for one is good for all. I think we will open a big can of worms if these books are banned. It’s the dictionary after all, c’mon.”
Of course, it is still a ridiculous idea that they even would consider it.
I kind of understand the concern, since that was the way that I learned what certain words were or meant. A friend had an older sister who had her play the Name Game with the word buck, and then threatened to tell their mom when she said fuck for the first time. So, I looked it up. Another time, I was watching Maury Povich and someone brought up the term orgasm, which I didn’t know at the time. I looked it up. Both times were in the latter part of elementary school. I don’t think that knowing the word fuck or what orgasm meant was really detrimental to me in any way and I don’t think it stole any part of my innocence. Parents need to realize that eventually, whether they like it or not, their kids are going to learn cuss words and about sex and other more grown up things. They need to either learn to talk to them earlier, maybe not in very technical terms, or they need to be prepared to find out that their kids have learned about things from books or friends or other places.
The only good thing I can think of, with regards to banning a dictionary, is that it might cause more young children to look into dictionaries and to learn about more things than just what they are learning in school. Making them bad or dirty might lead to more kids reading them so that they can being doing a bad/naughty/wrong thing.