Over the course of history, certain elements of society have seen it necessary to prevent children (or, in some cases, other adults) from accessing certain literary repositories of exquisite horror. I'm sure you're familiar with their reasons; kids shouldn't be learning about homosexuality, they're too young to read about sex, there's too much sex in this book, damn this book is sexy.
So, whether it be Harry Potter's graphic depiction of "snogging" (Wizarding slang for "getting freaky"), or 1984's inclusion of the Ministry of Love (think Studio 54 on a busy night), some books earn themselves a place on various lists of shame.
Until now, however, I had not realized that there was a gaping hole in this crusade to protect our nation's children. A loophole big enough that you could throw a dictionary through it. A loophole that is, in fact, the dictionary itself.
Where could any child, if he or she so desired, go to parse all of George Carlin's "seven dirty words" sketch? A dictionary. Where could a child go to learn that "genitals" are, and I apologize for the filth: "The external organ or organs of generation?" The dictionary.
And if that wasn't bad enough, children are particularly vulnerable to the lexophilic agenda of dictionary publishers, which fuels an addiction to word-filth.
I go to look up "organs," which leads me to "a pair (also set) of organs: an organ. Obs. Cf. pair of bagpipes, pair of virginals."
I look up "virginal," and where does that lead me? "b. virginal generation, parthenogenesis. 1879 tr. Haeckel's Evol. Man I. ii. 28 The so-called parthenogenesis, or virginal generation, of Bees."
Curiosity piqued, I follow "parthenogenesis" down the rabbit hole. "Reproduction from a gamete without fertilization, occurring most commonly in invertebrates and lower plants. Formerly also: asexual reproduction, as by fission or budding."
Asexual reproduction. Asexual reproduction. Filth leads to filth, and we should not have it in our schools.
Fortunately, a brave citizen in Southern California has set the precedent for me.
A parent complaint that a dictionary in her son’s classroom at Oak Meadows Elementary contained the term and definition for "oral sex" prompted school officials in the Menifee Union School District to pull all copies of the book from its fourth and fifth grade classrooms last week.
Extra bonus! The offending book was pulled before a single child had to suffer from its sinful content. This is how the system should work. Parents, next time you're volunteering at your child's school, look up "oral sex" in the dictionary. You know, just to be safe.
Since I do not have access to a paper dictionary, I looked the term up in the Oxford English Dictionary online. Not only did it fail to warn me that I was going to be viewing potentially objectionable content, it also gave me free access to a filthy limerick. Parents, shield your children.
Said an airy young fairy named Jess,
"The oral requires some finesse,
While in method the anal
Is terribly banal,
And the trousers will get out of press."
Really, OED? Really? Is this necessary?
Of course, there are some token objectors.
"It is not such a bad thing for a kid to have the wherewithal to go and look up a word he may have even heard on the playground. To me it is brilliant," he said.
You read that right. It's "brilliant" for a child to look up words on his own, unsupervised. Next thing you know, they'll be shooting heroin, because Webster tells them that it "produc[es] intense euphoric sensations."
Kids these days. Honestly.
As an aside - if you want to waste a morning giggling like a twelve-year old, read some of the usage examples that the OED has selected for some of the famous four-letter words.
1568 D. LINDSAY Answer Kingis Flyting 49 in Wks. (1931) I. 103 Ay fukkand lyke ane furious Fornicatour.