I can’t resist pointing to this New York Times article, having just blogged about censorship in the previous post.
A book wins the prestigious Newbery Medal award. It is “The Higher Power of Lucky,” by Susan Patron.
It becomes controversial because it uses an anatomically correct word. This word use is fitting with a theme of the book.
And one of the themes of the book is that Lucky is preparing herself to be a grown-up, Ms. Patron said. Learning about language and body parts, then, is very important to her.
This word is used as a descriptor between boys (and overheard by a girl) about the location of a dog’s snakebite. By 9 or 12 years of age, I hope that boys understand that there is another word for their private areas other than “family jewels” or “crotch”–if only so that they can talk with their doctors about jock itch, concerns about development, and what not. I expect that knowing the terms for various anatomical parts well enough to describe a dog’s snake bite will not cause the spontaneous spread of immorality. The boy explained to his friend that his dog was bit on the scrotum. The girl, overhearing, wonders about the word. I’ll bet that a similar book, aimed at the same age group, would be quite acceptable in mentioning that a pup nursed at it’s mother’s teat, or found a nipple to suckle.
“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.”
By the way, all three of my sons know that there are seven continents, and my sons know the terms urinate, bowel movements, and scrotums. They don’t often mention these things in conversation, but if they did, it wouldn’t be for titillation effect–just for factual information.
Read the book. Then decide.