How Do You Spell Absurd? School District Quarantines All Copies of Merrian Webster Dictionary

The good people of Menifee Union School District have taken a stand against indecency. Across the district in every school library Merriam Webster’s 10th edition dictionary has been locked away because one parent complained that it contained a definition of “oral sex.”

District spokeswoman Betti Cadmus says that the dictionary may now be permanently banned. She added that they are carefully going through it to find anything else that is “just not age appropriate.” She added “It’s hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we’ll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature.” Apparently, not quite as hard as banning books. (BTW, wasn’t the original Cadmus credited with the introduction of the first alphabet? He would be spinning in his sarcophagus).

Board member and teacher Randy Freeman agrees with the decision to put the book into quarantine, noting “a prestigious dictionary that’s used in the Riverside County spelling bee, but I also imagine there are words in there of concern.” Somehow I doubt that cunnilingus is likely to be chosen at the Spelling Bee.

Here is the definition from the online version:

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

Just for the record, here is the definition for intolerant:

Main Entry: in·tol·er·ant
Pronunciation: \-rənt\
Function: adjective
Date: circa 1735
1 : unable or unwilling to endure
2 a : unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters b : unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights : bigoted
3 : exhibiting physiological intolerance

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29 thoughts on “How Do You Spell Absurd? School District Quarantines All Copies of Merrian Webster Dictionary”

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  2. Oh, and another thing.

    I find it just a tad disingenuous that the same people who might criticize removing this inappropriate dictionary are also the same people who would complain about Justice Alito and any alleged breach of protocol or decorum.

  3. One set of adults don’t have the right to expose another set of adults children to questionable moral indignities.

    If leftists want to debauch their own children they can do it on their own time and dime. If they want to tell dirty stories to their kids even, they can do that to for the sake of free speech, of course.

    But I assume the “public” in “public schools” means that the people are allowed input and so have a right to ….

    Okay. I give up, you all win.


    I say let freedom ring.

    And in honor of liberty, I’d like to discuss this. Poop is a very natural and normal human function. Why, it is as natural as sex or breathing. It’s surely nothing to be ashamed of.

    So if your kid’s teacher comes to school with a plate of her own excrement for show and tell, I’ll not utter a complaint. It’s free expression you know! She has something valuable to teach her kids!

    I’ll just laugh at the folks who confuse liberty with license.

  4. I just had a public school teacher state on my blog that the U.S. Constitution and the freedoms contained therein do not apply to American school children! At least that’s what I think the teacher is saying. If our public schools really think that way, I think that should be a huge red flag to the rest of us.

    If these very educated people are teaching our school children that the only time free speech applies is if the government restricts it, well, I am speechless!

  5. I’m surprised that the Riverside School District chose not honor the intellectual self-education that is obtained through the childhood tradition of kids looking up words they’d rather not ask their parents about. After all, isn’t this about “tradition”?

  6. @Quite Contrary
    “Have to wonder if any parent actually did complain.”

    As the woo-meisters and the flaming fundies know, it’s never good to get the ScienceBlogs crowd on your case:

    Don’t pull any punches, Ed. “In one of the most appalling and ridiculous stories I’ve ever encountered, a school district in California has removed all the Merriam-Webster dictionaries from school classrooms because they actually defined sexual terms.”

    Anyway this appears to have even received some foreign press. Here is the resolution, from the CBC

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