Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Now there's an S-Word

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

Never have truer words been penned.

The above sentences come from the 2007 Newbery Award winning book “The Higher Power of Lucky” by Susan Patron. I guess it’s about a ten-year old orphan named “Lucky” and apparently, some school librarians want to ban it because of the s-word.

One thing: were these people never children?
Another thing: don’t these people know that by censoring something, they make it more popular?

This book was written for 9-12 year olds. Even if I did not know what the word scrotum meant, I certainly knew to what it referred. Like the heroine of this tale, I may have thought it involved mucous. It does, indeed, sound phlegm-y. These grown ups who continually try to protect children from things seem to have no memory of being children and no frame of reference for what children know and when they know it. And from what they actually need to be protected. They certainly have little respect for children or trust in their comprehension. Personally, I think that a ten year old boy child certainly should know what a scrotum is because he probably has one.

Librarians and teachers are saying that they don’t want to stock the book or teach it because they don’t want to have to explain what the word means. I would like to point out that they probably would not have to, and if they did, it would not take much explaining. This also reveals what their true concern is: themselves and their own embarrassment over the human body. They certainly are not interested in furthering children’s knowledge.

A librarian in Durango, Colorado was quoted in the New York Times as saying: “I don’t want to start an issue about censorship, but you won’t find men’s genitalia in quality literature... at least not for children.”


She’s probably right. Actual men’s genitalia probably are not included in “quality” literature. Or even in quality pop-up literature. She shows the precise amount of care for literature and context that I want in my librarians.

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