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Oral Sex, Merriam-Webster and the Madness of School Districts

January 25th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

Merriam-Webster

On Sunday, the LA Times reported that the Menifee Unified School District,
a school district located in Riverside County, has pulled a book from all school library shelves because of its racy content. And what lust-drenched book might the Menifee school folks have found morally problematic? Tropic of Cancer?— Henry Miller’s 1934-published novel that, while a bit long-in-the-tooth now, is still a perennial favorite when it comes to outraged shelf-yanking

Nope, the tome in question is the Merriam-Webster’s 10th edition dictionary. Its offense? It includes somewhere in its pages the term “oral sex.”

Evidently one—count ‘em, one—- parent complained so, rather than choosing a thoughtful and measured response to calm the histrionic parent, the local district officials instead swooped in and purged all the district’s schools of the dictionary. (Without consulting the school board, I might add.)

Let me repeat that. School officials removed the Webster’s dictionary from every library in the district on account of the dictionary’s “sexually graphic” content.

The Press Enterprise has a story
which features the district’s explanation for the book banning:

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…..

“It’s just not age appropriate,” said Cadmus,
adding that this is the first time a book has been removed from classrooms throughout the district.

“It’s hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we’ll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature,” Cadmus said.

Well, as it happens, I have a rather substantial pile of dictionaries in my personal library, so perhaps I can aid Ms. Cadmus in her search. I don’t have the the 10th edition of Merriam-Webster, but I do have two other Webster’s dictionaries among my array of reference books, both of which are approximately the size of bedside tables. Let me just haul ‘em out and take a look.

Okay, neither of my Webster’s volumes contain the term “oral sex.” (Oral herpes, yes, oral sex, no.)

As one might imagine, they do, however, include the term “sex,” (which would logically seem to be the offending part of the term so objectionable to the Menifee parent). And, in a random (but enthusiastic) search of Webster’s 2nd edition (first published in 1955) I found that it also includes words like orgasm, prostitute, orgy, sodomy—and sodomitical, a word I didn’t previously know existed but toward which I developed an instant affection, so much so that I have now vowed to work it into sentences as often as possible, as in, “My dear Ms. Cadmus, perhaps I’m being overly pessimistic, but I’m rather concerned that the new Supreme Court decision—you know the one I mean, yes? It’s known as Citizens United— is going to have a distinctly sodomitical affect on the democratic process. What do you think?”

I find that my half-century old Webster’s also has a whole pile of other words and terms of which the vigilant Menifee-ites really should take note, things like chastity belt, condom, gonorrhea, pimp (“a go-between in illicit sexual affairs; especially a prostitute’s agent”) and dildo (“a device of rubber, etc. shaped like an erect penis, and used as a sexual stimulator: also spelled dildoe…”)


Frankly, I’d have found many, many more treasures for Ms. Cadmus and friends (really, try it yourself) but I had to stop because the dog was bugging me to go for a run.

Before I put on my running shoes, however, I did take the time to check to see if the good old 1955 Webster’s had within its august pages the word cunnilingus. Webster’s did.

(n [L., lit., from cunnus, vulva, and lingere, to lick] a sexual activity involving oral contact with the female genitals.)

It also had fellatio (n. [from L. fallatus p.p. of fellar, to suck] a sexual activity involving oral contact with the male genitals)—thus providing proof positive that the dictionary purgers at the Menifee Unified School District define the term “logic-phobic, anti-literate jackasses,”—which I did not find in the 2nd edition of Websters but, if it is not included in the 10th edition, I truly hope Webster’s will consider adding in the 11th edition, with a nice photo of the Menifee folks to illustrate.

Sadly, even if Webster should take my suggestion, those being pictured would never learn of the honor because, as my brief search has just demonstrated, if we follow the Menifee action out to its natural conclusion, we will have no dictionaries of any kind in our school libraries at all.


NOTE: More news in a while.

Posted in art and culture, Free Speech, Freedom of Information | 50 Comments »

50 Responses

  1. Randy Paul Says:

    Celeste,

    Didn’t you know that if no mention is made of something it doesn’t exist? /snark>

    My favorite example of the idiocy that goes behind book banning was banning “The Diary of Anne Frank” because it was a “real downer”.

  2. Pokey Says:

    I guess, we can thank a past presidents for popularizing “Oral Sex” enough to get it into the MW dictionary.

    Clinton denied having committed perjury because, according to Clinton, the legal definition of oral sex was not encompassed by “sex” per se. In addition, relying upon the definition of “sexual relations” as proposed by the prosecution and agreed by the defense and by Judge Susan Webber Wright, who was hearing the Paula Jones case, Clinton claimed that because certain acts were performed on him, not by him, he did not engage in sexual relations. Lewinsky’s testimony to the Starr Commission, however, contradicted Clinton’s claim of being totally passive in their encounters

  3. WTF Says:

    I hope the parents of young kids don’t read this blog, I have read some pretty “graphic” words on this blog.

  4. Woody Says:

    Celeste: Evidently one—count ‘em, one—- parent complained so….

    Oh, as if other majorities never had to kowtow to complaints by individual liberals, who are so easily “offended” over anything that disturbs their weak minds.

    I remember the banning of little Black Sambo,” because it was “racist.” But, it wasn’t about Negroes but about a boy from India. No matter. Liberals have taken “being offended” to a new art form.

    And, a cross to a liberal (with loving support from the ACLU) is more worrisome than it would be to a vampire. Come to think of it, both of them are blood-suckers that take the life out of others and society.

    Hey, think of how many times certain people on the left who comment here wanted me banned. Go see shrinks, all of you.

    - – -

    Now, excuse me. This week I may take an elementary class to the Wren’s Nest and learn about Uncle Remus, show them Disney’s “Song of the South,” and catch up on some great episodes from “Amos and Andy.” I hope that there are no problems with that by any individuals.

    You folks can do what all liberals do, including defending the immersion of a crucifix in urine and calling it art that should be supported by taxpayers. Pardon me, if I find that objectionable. I’m just one backwards conservative to you.

    - – -

    Celeste, isn’t this post a little graphic? Shouldn’t you have a warning at the top that one must be 21 years or older to read it? I’mmmm offennnnnnnded (in a mocking, typical liberal, whiny voice.)

  5. Woody Says:

    Today’s example of liberal whinning and wanting the majority to cave in to them: English-Only Bookstore Stirs up Controversy in New Haven

  6. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Dear Pokey,

    I believe that oral sex already enjoyed considerable popularity among Americans well prior to Bill Clinton’s dalliances with “that woman.”

    (Speaking personally, I’m still far angrier at Clinton for that public characterization of Lewinski than I am for whatever they did together.)

    BTW, this notion of yours is as silly as blaming John Edwards for any future inclusion of such terms as “out of wedlock.”

    Woody, I think you’re right about the warning. We certainly wouldn’t want to sully the minds of adolescents (whom we’re willing to try as adults by age 14) with any admission that sex exists.

  7. Oldster Says:

    When I was a horny immature junior high school kid, I didn’t have any fancy internets to show me pictures of various sex acts! No, I looked them up in the dictionary, and I liked it!

  8. Sarah L Says:

    Let Riverside County embrace stupidity. From what I’ve seen there, they’ve already walked well down that path. In the next decade, the dumb will get dumber, the fat will get fatter, and the poor will get poorer. Now if we could just figure out a way to make them be totally self-sufficient in their stupidity (cuz I don’t wanna have to pay for any of that)…

  9. Steve Says:

    The Bible contains more sexually graphic phrases than the one upsetting the one parent. The school district caved in due to one parent. Let’s also ban any dictionaries containing words like murder, vivisection, genocide, etc., etc. They aren’t age-appropriate. And ban minors from going into book store. Perhaps the complaining parent could actually talk with their children about morality rather than trying to shield them from the real world. Or move to Iran, where you can be sure students are not permitted to read naughty words.

  10. Woody Says:

    Let kids learn about sex the old fashion way. Give them subscriptions to National Georgraphic.

    Celeste, Pokey is right and you’re wrong on Bill Clinton’s popularizing “not having sex.” I was furious at him every time the news came on during that time and I would have to have the remote control in hand to cut the volume down because of younger kids around and with some things that aren’t appropriate to bring up in polite settings. Clinton disgraced the Oval Office and caused his infidelities, one of which was with a young intern, and his sex addiction to become public discussion, which always leads to more promiscuity and acceptance. In fact, I think he made it “cool.” Think abut that the next time one of your kin gets STD’s of the mouth.

    Now, no one is trying to keep kids blind that sex exists. Why the survival of the entire human species depends upon them learning. What’s not appropriate is to discuss at early ages things that are somewhat different than the required sex for reproduction. But, we can always count on liberals to let them know at kidergaten levels about sex and to tell them, for instance, that homosexuality is just another one of those things that everyone does. Then, you can also have the girls in Home Ec to put down those potholders and learn to put condoms on cucumbers.

    Oh, and don’t wander around Urban Outfitters with little kids. They may want to know why the F-word is on all the display merchandies.

    Liberals are ruining this country.

  11. Joe Says:

    Pulling a dictionary off of a shelf is not going to stop kids from talking about oral sex. Even if they don’t really know what it is, they talk about it with their friends and pretend they do. At least keeping a dictionary with the term defined would help them find out what it actually is.

  12. WTF Says:

    Who really disgraced the Oval Office, Bill Clinton Richard Nixon ?

  13. Woody Says:

    Nixon didn’t do anything that other Presidents didn’t do. Bill Clinton did.

  14. RobThomas Says:

    Pokey Says:
    January 25th, 2010 at 7:17 am

    I guess, we can thank a past presidents for popularizing “Oral Sex”

    …………………..

    That’s right. Thank you!

  15. RobThomas Says:

    Woody Says:
    January 25th, 2010 at 8:06 am

    And, a cross to a liberal (with loving support from the ACLU) is more worrisome than it would be to a vampire. Come to think of it, both of them are blood-suckers that take the life out of others and society.

    ………………

    They’re in tough competition with corporate America, then.

  16. Send Them Home Says:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2010/01/schwarzenegger-send-prisoners-to-mexico.html

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger floated a different approach to trimming down California’s bloated prison budget on Monday: pay Mexico to build new prisons and ship off California’s incarcerated illegal immigrants south of the border.
    The Republican governor has pushed to house California inmates out-of-state before — but never in a different country.

    “We can do so much better in the prison system alone if we can go and take inmates, for instance the 20,000 inmates that are illegal immigrants that are here, and get them to Mexico,” Schwarzenegger said during a question-and answer session at the Sacramento Press Club. “Think about it.”

  17. RobThomas Says:

    # Sarah L Says:
    January 25th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Let Riverside County embrace stupidity. From what I’ve seen there, they’ve already walked well down that path. In the next decade, the dumb will get dumber, the fat will get fatter, and the poor will get poorer.

    ………………….

    But the rich won’t get richer. They’ll become more enlightened and charitable! Yah.

  18. RobThomas Says:

    Woody Says:
    January 25th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Let kids learn about sex the old fashion way. Give them subscriptions to National Georgraphic.

    ……………….

    You learned about sex from National Geographic? That explains an awful lot.

  19. RobThomas Says:

    Woody Says:
    January 25th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Clinton disgraced the Oval Office and caused his infidelities, one of which was with a young intern, and his sex addiction to become public discussion, which always leads to more promiscuity and acceptance. In fact, I think he made it “cool.”

    ……………..

    Yeh. Men having sex with multiple women wasn’t cool at all before Clinton. Totally nerdy thing to do. It’s why Frank Sinatra’s career never got off the ground. Now, Pat Boone, where was a cool mofo. Had himself one woman, always, and a stack of National Geographics.

  20. Woody Says:

    I grew up in the city, so had to rely upon publications, unlike others who grew up on farms and learned from the animals. Rob, you grew up on a farm, didn’t you?

  21. RobThomas Says:

    Woody, I didn’t know they even sold National Geographic in the city. Thought they only had it at libraries. But it’s cool. So, tell us what sexual pointers you got from National Geographic?

  22. RobThomas Says:

    Speaking of animals…LOL.

  23. RobThomas Says:

    In order for Woody to get turned on his partner has to have a basket full of fruit on his head.

  24. Mavis Beacon Says:

    Totally OT, but this seems worth reading: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122725771

  25. RobThomas Says:

    I apologize, Celeste. Feel free to delete whatever you like, I’ll take no offense to it, like some crybabies in here. I’m just a liberal trying to ruin the country, that’s all.

  26. Celeste Fremon Says:

    GREAT story, Mavis. Thanks for linking. I’ll likely pull it up to the front tonight.

  27. Sure Fire Says:

    Can you come up with a better system to guarentee a suspect is going to show up for court than the current one Mavis? Chew, in California, would be in jsil for burglary not petty theft. He went in and took the blankets with no ability to pay and the intent to steal was formulated prior to walking in. That’s different than a sudden opprotunity or urge that motivates a petty theft which in California anyway is a cite out, absent a prior conviction.

    This “history of violence” b.s. they keep trotting out means a person won’t turn to violence once they find the end of their rope? Yeah, that never happens.

  28. RobThomas Says:

    That’s right, SF. Guilty to proven innocent, mother f@#$%r!

  29. gunnlino Says:

    Sure are some twisted mentalities here, a post about words in a dictionary suddenly becomes a warped debate about Clinton/sex/Natl Geo/the entitled class/and crime and innocence.

    Is this an A.D.D. blog or an intelligent forum for thought and discussion ?
    I could/would go on but what’s the use.

  30. RobThomas Says:

    Good comeback, gunnlino. Oh, I’m kidding. I know you’re all above this petty debate.

  31. Joining the fray Says:

    RobThomas Says:
    They’re in tough competition with corporate America, then.

    But the rich won’t get richer. They’ll become more enlightened and charitable! Yah.

    I’m sensing an animosity towards capitalism. Are you one of those liberals who wants America to become a socialist society? Just asking. Not accusing.

  32. Woody Says:

    Rob, you seem very interested in my sex life, but I’m not going to satisfy your virulent curiousity about someone who is very normal. Why don’t you trade stories with reg, but leave us out?

    Yes, in the city one may purchase National Georgraphic at magazine stands and in bookstores. Since you learned from and identify with animals but didn’t get the magazine, maybe this National Geographic video will hold your rapt attention. — Homosexuality in Animals. But, if monkees are your choice vertebrate teachers, then understand that society frowns on flinging feces at your partners.

    Why do you liberals have to ruin the country when there are so many jungles where you could be happy?

  33. RobThomas Says:

    Woody Says:
    January 25th, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Rob, you seem very interested in my sex life,

    ……………

    What? You brought it up. I promise you nobody asked you where you learned about sex, or where people should learn about sex. You came right out and said that people should learn about sex the old fashion way…from National Geographic. I didn’t even know National Geographic was a sexual magazine. Thought it just did illustrated stories on 3rd world regions that the regular press never quite gets to. But if it took photos of women in their magazines taken where it’s the norm for women not to wear tops, to ween you away from burning ants with your magnifying glass, then more power to you.

  34. RobThomas Says:

    Joining the fray, I all for socialism, until I get rich. Then I’ll be a capitalist.

  35. Woody Says:

    Rob: …his partner has to have a basket full of fruit on his head.

    Rob, you may like fruits and may prefer to apply whipped cream on their heads, but I always liked my partners to be female.

    Well, when Oldster said that he learned sex from the dictionary and Celeste had other ideas, I thought it opened up the question as to what sources were within bounds of polite society.

    Of course, in your excitement, you took everything too literally. Maybe it was too much for you to swallow. I hope you didn’t stain your blue dress in the process.

  36. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Rob and Woody. Chill. (I thought Woody’s original National Geographic remark was funny, actually. But then it all went off the rails.)

  37. RobThomas Says:

    Alright, that’s it. You win, Woody. Time for us to chill. We wouldn’t want to ruin the peaceful environment here. It was like a quiet little game of backgammon amongst nuns until I showed up. Me and my dirty mind. Oh, and Woody, you like your partners to be women. Love the plural use of “partners”, as in you’ve had many. Alright. You’re my kind of guy. And no, I don’t mean it like that.

  38. RobThomas Says:

    Speaking of ruining America, Cheech and Chong on George Lopez tonight, in about 10 minutes. Check it out, Woody. The 3 women you have in bed with you right now will love it, too. Can’t go wrong with Cheech, Chong, and George.

  39. koolio Says:

    haha this is funny!

  40. Woody Says:

    Liberal “Logic” — The US teen pregnancy rate rose in 2006 for the first time in 16 years, an [sic] report showed Tuesday, as “experts” [my quotes] speculated that the increase was due to abstinence-only sex education in schools.[sick]

    It’s much better if we tell them not to judge, anything goes, and give live demonstrations on how to do “it” in classrooms.

  41. Tweets that mention WitnessLA.com » Blog Archive » Oral Sex, Merriam-Webster and the Madness of School Districts -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cindy Kelly, Scott Good, californiaBNN, Celeste Fremon, Celeste Fremon and others. Celeste Fremon said: Oral sex, Merriam-Webster and the madness of school districts. http://bit.ly/6169Yb [...]

  42. RobThomas Says:

    Woody, are you making excuses for teenagers having sex? I’m a conservative Republican, so I’m going to hold them and their families accountable. I’m not going to blame some boogie man like teachers teaching abstinence, etc. I’m going to hold the individuals accountable for their own behavior. Just my values. Sorry.

  43. Woody Says:

    Rob, finally you and I agree on something. Democrats insist that kids have sex and get abortions as early in life as possible. If everyone is doing it, then there’s no shame in it. In Arab lands they would consider unmarried pregnancy a shame on the family and kill the girl as an honor killing. I won’t go that far, but I’d definitely make her “go off to visit a relative” while she was having the baby, just like they did in the good old days.

  44. Celeste Fremon Says:

    “Democrats insist that kids have sex and get abortions as early in life as possible.”

    Woody, this kind of idiotic remark makes conversation impossible. Dial it back.

  45. Woody Says:

    Celeste, you mean that’s not true? As I remember from the last election, liberals were upset that Sarah Palin’s daughter didn’t do the “brave thing for the child” and abort it.

    From these recent events, one could certainly be fooled, if you are right.

    Daily Kos: A Grandma Handing Out Pro-Life Pamphlets Is a Terrorist

    Oprah and GMA ‘Bristle’ at Bristol’s Pledge of Abstinence

    ABC, CBS, NBC Skip Pro-Life March; NPR Airs Abortionist Calling Pro-Lifers Terrorists

    ‘Women’s Groups’ Pressuring CBS to Scrap Tebow Super Bowl Ad

    Predictable Lefty Outrage at Tebow Pro-Life Superbowl Ad

    MRC’s Bozell Challenges CBS to Stand Ground, Air Tim Tebow Super Bowl Ad

    Joy Behar: Tim Tebow Just As Easily Could Have Been ‘Rapist Pedophile’

    Shuster Shouts At Supporter Of Tebow Pro-Life Super Bowl Ad

    Maybe I wasn’t forceful enough.

  46. Tammi L. Coles Says:

    @Woody: “Democrats insist that kids have sex and get abortions as early in life as possible.”

    I *definitely* got that pamphlet at my school! It came with Democrats for a Better Country and had a smiling picture of Jimmy Carter on the front and everything!!

    That’s why the country is just FILLED with great Republicans today!

    And back to the land of the sane…

    What we have here is a fight between the God-only-likes-missionary-position conservatives and, well, thinking, healthy adults of all stripes (conservative and liberal). One can only hope that the name of the complaining parent is released to the public so that his/her child may be taken by the State (because there is a clear danger of abuse). Let’s hope that Woody and all of his partners have the good sense to use condoms with all that premarital-missionary sex.

  47. Woody Says:

    This banning started long ago, and it wasn’t by conservatives. Let me take people back to 1963. We put a new courtyard in at our high school and had it nicely landscaped and with beautiful donated sculptures. One of them was a fountain and included an image of St. Fancis of Assisi. One mother complained about church and state, and the thing got heaved out.

    But, let’s not hope that the complaining parents get singled out, as we all know how the left attacks and demonizes people once they disagree with them and find out who they are.

    Do you know why Baptists don’t have sex standing up? So, they won’t be accused of dancing.

  48. Woody Says:

    Celeste, you’re missing an opportunity to attack Tim Tebow and the Right to Life ad for the Super Bowl. All the rest of the liberals are doing it.

  49. CCD Says:

    Seems like there’s been a decision to put the dictionaries back.

  50. foreignObserver Says:

    Interesting debate and obviously I’m not aware of all of the local politics going on there but there seems to be an enourmous amount of biased generalities being thrown about. I am surprised though that tainting any ideas with a communist colour seems to enable people to dismiss the ideas out of hand.

    Communism’s greatest failure was that personal greed destroyed it for all but a small elite – Capitalism’s greatest failure is almost the same (though as far as I can see the elite is a slightly larger club). Neither system is perfect.

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