the scrotum monologues

so i guess people don’t just fear the word ‘vagina’; apparently we are an egalitarian society and we fear words referring to men’s private parts as well. and this time, there are children involved, so of course we can’t have our children knowing the proper words for those parts, or even acknowledging that those parts exist.

right now there is a controversy within the library world over the 2007 newbery award winning book, the higher power of lucky by susan patron. (the newbery medal is awarded annually by the american library association to an outstanding children’s book published the previous year.) it’s a complex little book, chronicling 10-year-old lucky’s search for a ‘higher power’ in order to get over the recent death of her mother. the controversy begins at the beginning: after an incident involving her dog, lucky reveals to the reader that one of her favorite words is ‘scrotum’. she has no idea what it means, but likes the way it sounds. one of her goals is to find out what it means, but she can’t think of anyone she trusts enough to ask. (considering the reaction to the actual book, it’s no wonder.) this mention of the word scrotum has caused this book to be banned by libraries across the country. a fifth-grader somewhere might ask his or her parents what the word scrotum means, and gasp!, the parent will actually have to stammer out some sort of an answer.

this whole thing is ridiculous and would be unneccesary in an enlightened society. however, what really gets me is that the ala, the supposed champion of free speech and open access to all materials, is supporting the libraries who have banned this book. i agree with the author’s article appearing in the february 27 edition of the los angeles times. patron has no problem with parents choosing not to let their child see the book. however, when an institution severs access to the book, there is a serious problem. if a parent chooses to shelter his/her own child for whatever reason, that is fine (to a point), but those who support censoring this book need to realize that it is a parental responsibility to monitor what our children are exposed to, not that of the government, under whose umbrella public libraries generally fall. the fact that ala is okay with this is reprehensible.

scrotum is just a word, describing a body part that the majority of men have (barring some tragedy). can we get over our holier-than-thou selves, and let our children learn about the world from a good, positive, wholesome source?

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