Dispatches from the Creation Wars

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.

After a parent complained about an elementary school student stumbling across “oral sex” in a classroom dictionary, Menifee Union School District officials decided to pull Merriam Webster’s 10th edition from all school shelves earlier this week.

School officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the “sexually graphic” entry, said district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus. The dictionaries were initially purchased a few years ago for fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms districtwide, according to a memo to the superintendent.


Now those busy little bureaucrats are pouring over the dictionaries looking for other “inappropriate” words to decide whether they’ll pull the dictionaries permanently:

“It’s hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we’ll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature,” Cadmus said. She explained that other dictionary entries defining human anatomy would probably not be cause for alarm.

I’ve got news for you, lady — the only thing in this whole situation that is cause for alarm is the remarkable spinelessness of the school administration and the fact that anyone there would find it acceptable to remove dictionaries from a classroom because they don’t like some of the words in it. I suggest looking up the word “asinine.”

PZ is right, when these kinds of situations crop up in schools, sane parents need to be in the face of the administration in a big way. The wingnuts are almost always the only ones making noise and that’s why they so often seem to get their way. It’s time for rational parents to make even more noise that they won’t tolerate this kind of misology – especially from schools.