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Common Sense

It ain’t so common.

Here parents in a school district in California  prove that they have little, if any, common sense.

Menefee School Panel Will Review Banned Dictionary

The Menifee Union School District is forming a committee to review whether dictionaries containing the definitions for sexual terms should be permanently banned from the district’s classrooms, a district official said Friday.

The 9,000-student K-8 district this week pulled all copies of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary after an Oak Meadows Elementary School parent complained about a child stumbling across definitions for “oral sex.”

The decision was made without consultation with the district’s school board and has raised concerns among First Amendment experts and some parents.

No, really.  Ban dictionaries because there are words in them that some parents don’t like.  I am sure there are a plethora of offensive words in any good dictionary.  Depending on ones perspective, “liberal,” “Muslim,” “Gay,” and so forth could be perceived as offensive.

Free-speech and anti-censorship experts called the ban an overreaction.

“If a public school were to remove every book because it contains one word deemed objectionable to some parent, then there would be no books at all in our public libraries,” said Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, of which The Press-Enterprise is a member. “I think common sense seems to be lacking in this school.”

And, it could be argued, that common sense is lacking all around these days.  Where do people make the leap from “this offends me” to “ban the book?”  Maybe my view is distorted, but I have never believed in censorship.  If my kids came across something that was not “age appropriate” we discussed it and moved on.

Here it appears that this reaction is based on the complaint of one parent.

The Menifee ban is particularly troubling, because it is based on one parent’s complaint, Bertin said.

The school’s committee should review the book before making a decision to take it off the shelves, she said.

“Normally people only use a dictionary to look up a word they have heard or read, which means they have been exposed to the word and are trying to understand,” Bertin said.

“This is an example of parents overreacting because of their own personal perspective on what the word reveals and what it means,” she said. “They don’t want their kids to know this happens.”

And the thing is….kids are going to hear things and see things.  From their school mates, TV, music, books…wherever.  You can’t shield kids from the world.  The best you can do is help them understand it.  Banning dictionaries not only does not help them understand the world, it shows them that their parents are afraid of it.  Or that their parents have no common sense.  Or both.

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