Monday, February 19, 2007

More Talking and Less Banning

Well, just when I think the people may be heading in the right direction with somewhat of a concerted effort, there is always something which shows up that snaps me back to reality and allows me to see that we are not even close! In the midst of the ongoing death and destruction from the Iraq War, the melting polar ice caps, the possibilities of a dollar crash, and the ever-widening wealth disparities, one word has surfaced in the mainstream that puts all the aforementioned catasrophes in their place. And the focus of the people is once again misdirected and sidetracked in the same old way it has been for eons! What word could that be you ask? What single word could have this much power?

First off I want to mention Susan Patron, a public librarian from Los Angeles. Susan's latest book won the 2007 Newbery Medal which is considered the most prestigious award for children's literature. The book entitled, The Higher Power of Lucky, deals with a 10 year old motherless girl in a small town. But one word which appears on the first page of the book has offended conservative librarians and school teachers. And libraries all over the country have already banned or are considering banning the book citing moral shock! The word that has created this uproar with visions of book burning is scrotum.

Like I mentioned, just as I thought I could see a little light at the end of the tunnel, one solitary word becomes a social stumbling block and the light disappears! In a New York Times article, Pat Scales, who is a former chairwoman of the Newbery Award committee, said that declining to stock the book in libraries was nothing short of censorship.
“The people who are reacting to that word are not reading the book as a whole,” she said. “That’s what censors do — they pick out words and don’t look at the total merit of the book.”

I have to say that I'm losing faith in the future of humanity. How shallow and misdirected can we be? I continue to witness new highs in mass ignorance and I truly can't understand. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but come on people! Scrotum! C'mon people! Perhaps these poor misguided people should try a little honesty and good old fashioned common sense. Be open with the children and read to them and actually "talk" with them. Not to them...but with them. It was John Stuart Mill who spoke On Liberty.
If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

Banning books is not the answer! Freedom of thought and honest communication is what is needed! There are times when I really think there is absolutely no hope for the human race! I think Susan's use of the word was eloquent and scientific. I have to admit our kids down south would probably question the meaning of the word scrotum. Not because we shelter our kids, but because us "rednecks" use a different terminology down here. I think it would be safe to say a large percentage of our kids wouldn't recognize scrotum, but if you said nut sack, they would know exactly what you were talking about! You see I actually talk "with" my kids and always have! We need to communicate with our children and talk openly about everything, not guide them through life with literary and social blinders! Let them think!! Give them the freedom that their minds need. Our future will be in their hands and I know for sure we don't need more of what we've already seen! I already see how destructive we've been up to this point in our so-called progress! And I know our kids, if given the opportunities, can do a much better job than we have so far!

To quote from Patricia Zohn's piece Scrotum Wars:
Anna Freud was reaching maturity and began to show an interest in her father's work so Freud gave her some of his writings to read. About a month later he asked her if she had any questions about what she had been reading. "Just one," she replied. "What is a phallus ?" Being a man of science, Freud unbuttoned his pants and showed her. "Oh, Anna exclaimed, thus enlightened, "it's like a penis, only smaller!


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