Southern California School District May Ban the Dictionary

Given the headline, you'd be forgiven for thinking the offending entries were an affront to political correctness. Nope. Just good old-fashioned prudery.

After a parent complained about an elementary school student stumbling across "oral sex" in a classroom dictionary, Menifee Union School District officials decided to pull Merriam Webster's 10th edition from all school shelves earlier this week.

School officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the "sexually graphic" entry, said district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus. The dictionaries were initially purchased a few years ago for fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms districtwide, according to a memo to the superintendent.

"It's just not age appropriate," said Cadmus, adding that this is the first time a book has been removed from classrooms throughout the district.

"It's hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we'll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature," Cadmus said.

Better that kids learn these things on the playground, I guess.

(Thanks to Chris Berez for the link.)

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Anomalous||

    The Menifee Union School Board can all blow me.

  • ||

    First they have to look up how in the dictionary.

  • ||

    Well, it's a start at least. Now if we could just get rid of those pesky science courses...

  • Single-barrel Bob||

    Less than 10 miles from my house, and pretty much the same demographics as my town. Sad. Although not surprising in-the-least.

  • Rich||

    You can't fool *me*, Radley.

    This is from The Onion.

  • Cap'n NoStar||

    Oral sex is when the closest you get to having sex is talking about it.

  • ||

    That's not age appropriate.

  • alan||

    As a little scamp looking up curse word entries in dictionaries at school was a favorite thing to do and I cam out . . .

    Okay, that doesn't help.

  • Jeffersonian||

    My exact thought, alan. The teachers always thought my pals and I were so smart for going to the unabridged dictionaries, but the truth was were were just getting our jollies looking up the curse and sex words.

  • ||

    Now you can just look them up on wikipedia.

  • ||

    With photographic illustrations

  • ||

    And yet another cherished tradition of youth is unceremoniously stripped away from kids. Don't show them that book on Italian Renaissance sculpture!

    I bought The Sandlot on DVD the other day and showed it to my kids. (For the uninitiated, it is set in the early 60's in a Cali suburb.) They were utterly confused by these kids who just came and went as they pleased and only bothered to shout at their mom (who was home!) that they were going out and would be back later. No play date!? No cell phone!?

    It took some convincing, but they finally accepted that cell phones hadn't been invented yet.

  • kinnath||

    A fine movie.

  • ||

    Agreed. My 9-year old boy loved it.

    When they get older, if our kids don't just outright kill us for depriving them of a normal childhood (easy now Sorgatz) because of all the boogeymen hiding behind every rock and shrub, just waiting to inflict *scary* risk on the scamps, I'll be damned surprised.

  • game day||

    Love that movie too. My daughter once asked about rotary phones.

  • ||

    I'm surprised that no one has released a pornographic dictionary. That is, a real dictionary with pornography.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Paging SugarFree!!!

    Dirty Sanchez? What's that?

  • Ted S.||

    Isn't that what the Kama Sutra is for?

  • ||

    When will "liberals" learn the correct lesson from this kind of story: that pointless kerfuffles like this arise inevitably when the government (through taxes that prohibit options for lower-income households) has a near-monopoly on K-12 education?

  • Mike||

    Who needs a dictionary when we have the interweb?

  • ed||

    Or National Geographic.

  • ||

    National Geographic: striking a deep fear of gravity and its effects into the hearts of boys and girls alike for over 100 years.

  • ed||

    The original floppy disks.

  • smartass sob||

    School officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the "sexually graphic" entry, said district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus.

    Graphic? What, does it contain a picture or diagram of the act?

  • CaptainSmartass||

    Just wait until one of the little skamps goes to Wikipedia on the school computer the first time.

  • ||

    Okay, you just made me look up 'oral sex' on wikipedia.

  • ||

    Who the fuck are these parents that make these fucking complaints?

    Didn't every kid look up dirty words in the dictionary?

    And, as for "stumbling across "oral sex" in a classroom dictionary"! Stumbled across my ass! The kid problably heard the words about eight times on TV and wanted to know what it meant.

  • JD||

    Didn't every kid look up dirty words in the dictionary?

    Yeah! Isn't that how every American kid learns that vagina is a state in the Eastern US, population 7,078,515? (I admit to shamelessly ripping that off some comedian whose name I can't remember.)

  • Stiffler's Mother||

    perhaps he was just looking up a word to describe what he saw his mom and dad doing?

  • Legally Blonde ||

    It could have been what his two dads were doing too.

  • Fluffy||

    Shhh! Nobody tell the school officials to look up words that start with "n". They'll have to burn the dictionary and schedule everyone in the district for re-education.

  • ||

    Nancy? Narcolepsy?

  • ||

    NutraSweet.

  • ||

    naggers

  • ||

    Given Tulpa's hostility towards the word negro, it, too, should be stricken.

  • CTHORM@IBIS||

    Really, Narcolepsy?

  • Hugh Akston||

    "It's hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we'll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature," Cadmus said.

    I would imagine that many of your students already have.

  • Jeffersonian||

    I'd really be distressed to learn they hadn't.

  • Michael||

    See, that's just it. Doubtless they will search far and wide to uncover words with dirty meanings and if none can be found they'll just have to assign some of their own. Behold the mind of the typical, paranoid busybody.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    This new book is indispensable.

  • ||

    So what's the definition that's so offensive? Anybody out there in
    elementary school that can enlighten us?

  • ||

    Acceptance

    When the spent sun throws up its rays on cloud
    And goes down burning into the gulf below,
    No voice in nature is heard to cry aloud
    At what has happened. Birds, at least must know
    It is the change to darkness in the sky.
    Murmuring something quiet in her breast,
    One bird begins to close a faded eye;
    Or overtaken too far from his nest,
    Hurrying low above the grove, some waif
    Swoops just in time to his remembered tree.
    At most he thinks or twitters softly, 'Safe!
    Now let the night be dark for all of me.
    Let the night bee too dark for me to see
    Into the future. Let what will be, be.'

  • Citizen Nothing||

    From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

    Main Entry: oral sex
    Function: noun
    Date: 1973
    : oral stimulation of the genitals : cunnilingus, fellatio

    Shocking!

  • ||

    Slow down! I'm trying to take notes, here!

  • Ska||

    So do they define cunnilingus and fellatio also?

  • ||

    Ska, when a man and a woman love each other... Oh never mind.

  • Legally Blonde ||

    Heller, when two men love each other...

  • ||

    If I remember correctly, I saw a similar definition, and had to cross-reference both cunnilingus and fellatio. What a wild fantasy life I had after that day...

  • Ska||

    Heaven forbid the school administrators find that book of Mad Libs they've been trying these newly learned phrases with.

    "Cunnilingusly is an adverb!"

  • AJs||

    Whoa - hold on, you guys are missing the real story here.

    Kids still use dictionaries? Seriously? Like real books with a cover and pages in between?

    This kid deserves a gold star for knowing how to and using an actual print dictionary...

    And would they rather have him looking it up on google?

  • ||

    Looking it up on Google with the "I'm Feeling Lucky" feature, no less.

  • PIRS||

    Maybe the Wi-Fi was not working in the school that day. That is what I suspect. The dictionaries are there as a back up for such emergencies. Kind of like generators for when the regular lighiting dies.

  • Rich||

    "It's hard to sit and read the dictionary"

    That's what *he* said.

  • ||

    Why is "oral sex" is in the dictionary? It's a phrase, not a word.

    But I suppose the same dispute could have cum to pass over "fellatio".

  • ||

    I see what you did thar.

  • skr||

    compound word?

  • Legally Blonde ||

    It was added in honor of our 42nd President

  • ||

    better they learn about it from their erected politicians

  • Legally Blonde ||

    They learn all about their erected president when they tour the Smithsonian Museum
    dresses first ladies and first girlfriends gallery

  • Warty||

    Dr. Samuel Johnson wrote the first(?) English dictionary back in 17-something-something. There's a story about how a group of society ladies arrived to pay their respects soon after, at which time they congratulated him on not including any naughty words in the text. He, in turn, congratulated them on knowing where to look for them.

    So I'm not sure what that has to do with anything.

  • alan||

    Also, that is bureaucracy for you. After one hundred and fifty years of public primary school education, they have just caught on to what kids are doing with those dictionaries.

  • ||

    If you want to ban books on the theory that they may put wrong ideas into children's heads, there's one book that leads the list.

    It is absolutely stuffed with tales of violence, sin and crime. It starts with misappropriation of property and moves on to murder, rape, sodomy, incest, idolatry, human sacrifice,cannibalism
    and even genocide. The occasional fraud or theft comes as a positive relief in the action.

    What book is that? The one that starts with Genesis...

  • CTHORM@IBIS||

    Lawlz lets ban it

  • ||

    Well of course they want to get rid of the dictionary! Can't teach the kids newspeak if you have old dictionaries lying around, can you?

    -jcr

  • Abdul||

    If they wanted to stop girls' knowledge of oral sex, they should have fed them all wedding cake.

  • Bob||

    With the news this morning about teen pregnancy rates on the rise, promoting ignorance about oral sex should be the last thing on our minds.

  • Xenocles||

    I was sheltered as a teen. There was a story of a rape in the local paper that reported the victim had been forced to perform oral sex and I was baffled because I thought that meant she was talking about it at knifepoint. Old joke, I know, but totally true.
    So give the dictionary a break and let's hammer the news, I guess.

  • دردشة||

    thanks

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement