Thursday, January 28, 2010

Define "Dictionary"

We have really come off the rails this time. I mean really. Really really. Really.

Let's go down to southern California to the Menifee Union School District in southwest Riverside County. And while we're there, let's stop by the fourth grade and fifth grade classrooms at Oak Meadows Elementary School. And while we're there, let's look up some words in Merriam Webster's 10th Collegiate Edition Dictionary. Oh, wait. We can't. They've been removed from the classrooms because A parent complained. Wait. What?

Correct. It would seem that, according to the LA Times, "...a parent complained to the school principal about what she believed was explicit sexual content in the dictionary." Explicit sexual content? Let's break that down, shall we? The dictionary defines words. It doesn't beat around the bush. Therefore, it tends to be explicit. Whether it be a definition of a duck (a duck) or a rock (a rock) or a tree (a tree), it tends to be explicit. And explicit or not, if it's a word, it needs to be defined. Hence it's inclusion in the dictionary.

"The books were ordered off the shelves until a committee could determine if they were "age appropriate" for fourth- and fifth-graders." If they were age appropriate? For people What age does one have to be before their language is deemed to be appropriate? What the heck is that all about? ONE parent complains and ALL of the dictionaries get removed?! When did that start happening? When did the opinion of ONE person suddenly have the potential to affect EVERYONE around them? (And in this case, apparently only one completely asinine person to boot!)

"The move immediately set off cries of censorship among many, including the president of the local school board, who warned that banning one book would inevitably lead to the banning of more and more." Let's forget about censorship for a moment because censorship is really the last thing that I'm worried about at the moment. What I'm concerned about is stupidity and this is one of the stupidest things that I've ever heard. Let's forget about censorship for a moment and let's instead focus on how ridiculous it is to remove a freaking dictionary because there are words in there that are explicit! Focusing? Are you?! Good! Then you see my point! Now, what was the problem exactly?

You have no idea the sorts of filth that I had to sort through on Google Images to find this photo.The word and the definition of said word that is in question here is "oral sex". Now, I don't know about you, but I don't know how you're going to define "oral sex" without it containing a fair amount of explicit detail. See, that's because you're going to have to use the word "genitals" or an acceptable substitute. (And by "acceptable" I mean something that you could put in the dictionary and allow said dictionary to retain it's credibility. Therefore, terms like cootchie, hoo-ha, and wee-wee would be immediately disqualified from consideration.) And technically, the term "oral sex" in and of itself is rather explicit. You've got the "sex" part of it which could be considered explicit and you've got all of the oralling going on with it which makes it even more explicit. It's hard for me to see a way around that one, frankly. And you know, you're also going to have to include some sort of reference to the oral portions of the human anatomy making contact with said genitalia without a funny nickname. Tell me how that's going to happen without explicit detail. Oh, that's right. It's not.

Now, I thought I had a hard copy of the "devil's book" (aka Merriam-Webster's Dictionary), but I was wrong, so I've had to rely on the online version in order to further assess this lunacy. If you check Merriam Webster's online and look up the definition of "oral sex", this is the definition you'll see: "oral stimulation of the genitals". Yes, we know. (Theoretically.)

::: blink ::: ::: blink :::

That's IT?!?! THAT is the explicit definition that A parent wigged out about and demanded that the dictionary be pulled from the classrooms?! Is this parent aware of some of the other words that are in said dictionary?! What about penis? I'm pretty sure that vagina is included in there! You know, the words that were referenced by the "oral sex" definition? You know, words that you could look up to get a clearer view of what we're talking about, though I doubt that from the oral sex position that you're really going to have a very clear view of anything, really. (Yes, that was a joke. Carry on.) They cross reference cunnilingus (not one who is clever with words) and fellatio (not an off shoot of the word "fellow") for crying out loud!

For the love of anything that is sane in this world, if someone could explain to me how society got to the point where if one person is annoyed by the slightest little thing that the entire system is thrown out of whack whilst that moron is accommodated? How?! How did it come to this?!

Look, the purpose of a dictionary is so that all of the words can be included. It's not a give and a take quite so much. It's pretty much an all or nothing thing here. You can have all of the words and call it a dictionary or you can have some of the words and call it a pile of words. Your choice. Actually, no. Wait a minute. It isn't your choice. It's no one's choice! It's a damned dictionary and that's all there is to it! You can't go changing the dictionary! It's not POSSIBLE! What is wrong with people (person)?

I cannot believe that because one fringe lunatic couldn't handle the term "oral sex" in a dictionary (not in their Bible, though that would be news!) for God's sake, that now (and I'm quoting) "The school is now promising to begin a thorough scouring of the dictionary for other offensive entries." Because of course they have nothing better to do, seeing as how all of the children are learning the most that they can and are getting the best education possible already.

::: blink ::: ::: blink :::

Good Lord, we're doomed.

"It's hard to sit and read the dictionary (Why, yes! It is! That's why people don't do it! You moron.), but we'll be looking to find other things of graphic nature." It's an amygdala. It's part of the brain! What did you think it was?!Let me save them some time! You're going to find other things of graphic nature! You don't have to READ very much! You can just flip right to them! Let me help you! Penis is probably in there. Don't forget vagina. Amygdala should go just because it sounds hilarious. (The same goes for urethra.) Get rid of vulva (the body part, not the car. Oh, wait, that's Volvo, never mind). And while you're at it, axe the prostate, will you? You should find some testicles in there (not literally, for cryin' out loud!). Breasts must definitely go (and I will miss them). Anus? Gone! Uterus? I'm not using mine, get rid of it too! Clitoris? Until we can agree on a pronunciation, it's gone as well! (Man, if whomever that parent was is reading this right now, I'm guessing that they probably had a heart attack somewhere right around 'anus'. But again, not literally.)

Did this parent never look up words when they were younger just so that they could laugh? If not, then I'm guessing that they were not part of a very large group known as "freaking everyone!" And after the school gets done reading the dictionary, then what? Are they going to black out those entries? Good luck. Ever read a dictionary? They're printed on that paper that's just a step up from the thickness that they use for the Bible. It's very thin. There's no way that you can just run a Sharpie over your penis (not many reasons why you'd want to, really) without it blacking out the other side as well.

So do you want to know what they came up with? You know, what to do after all of the scouring? Here's the solution: "The dictionary will go back to the classroom but the parents will be given the option to determine if they want their kids to have access to that dictionary...Students will take permission slips home and parents who don't want them to use Webster's 10th Collegiate Edition can opt for alternative dictionaries." What now?

An alternative dictionary? What the heck is that? An incomplete list of words? Why yes! Yes! That's exactly what it is! There is no word on what this alternative dictionary will consist of or which one will be used. But are they serious? They're going to send home permission slips in case parents don't want their children to have access to the dictionary? I'm pretty sure that if that sort of permission slip was sent home with me when I was in school that my parents would have pulled me out of that school. They would have assumed that the lunatics are running the asylum and they would have yanked me out of there before having to read through any more inanity. (Man, I wish that they had done that when I was in high school and with my chemistry class. You know, sent home a note asking if I was allowed access to my chemistry book. I would have forged that sucker so fast. I hated chemistry.) By the way, if you're wondering what the California Department of Education (you know, the department that funds the blasted schools) had to say about it, they "...said it had no authority over what Menifee does with its dictionaries because they are not considered instructional materials." I want to cry.

It's not an instructional material? It's a dictionary! It's a reference material! How is a reference material not an instructional material? Ever remember asking your teacher how you spell something or what something means when you were in school? What did your teacher tell you? That's right. She/He told you to look it up in the dictionary. I don't know how that is not an instructional material, but apparently it isn't.

I cannot believe that this got any farther than the individual who took the complaint. Oh, how I wish I had been that individual. I think my response would have gone something along the lines of, "Uh-huh. I see. Well, Mr. or Mrs. Jackass, the point of the dictionary is that is has all of the words in it. See, because otherwise it would just be called Merriam-Webster's Partial List of Words. And who is going to want to read that, really. No one. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have non-lunatics to see. Thank you for stopping by."

Look, I'll work my way up to something that could actually be said, all right? In the meantime can you crazy people please get over yourselves? And if you can't, will you at least accept some help from the sane? Good Lord, things are off the rails these days.

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1 comment:

Kate said...

Very creative Mary- as usual.