School Librarians Censoring A Book? – Upset Over Scrotums

bbwweb100x100 2006First, I’d just like to be clear about how I feel about librarians seeking to censor books, any books. Librarians that take any action to censor a book should be fired, immediately, as soon as proof is offered that they tried to censor a book. The last thing I want is for librarians to decide what can be read by whom.

The book at the root of this current controversy? The Higher Power of Lucky,” by Susan Patron, a Newberry Medal winner. The book is about a girl coming to terms with herself, life and growing up. I read it and there’s absolutely no reason to ban it. So why are librarians so upset? Here in all its shameful glory is the offending passage:

Lucky Trimble, hears the word through a hole in a wall when another character says he saw a rattlesnake bite his dog, Roy, on the scrotum.

“Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much. It sounded medical and secret, but also important.”

Oh no! Not scrotum! How dare the author put such an offensive word in a child’s book? Well maybe because the author doesn’t have the sensibilities of a neutered Puritan looking for a witch to drown.

Can ten year-old children handle the word scrotum? Of course, so why can’t the librarians? How did the world become so twisted that a mere word describing a body part can be considered offensive? Dangerous even? Read the full story in the NY Times.

Now please excuse me while I storm about my office then contact some more people that have the sack to stand up to those folks that can’t stomach a perfectly good word like ‘scrotum’.

Oh, if you’re wondering what that word is that describes something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much, it’s sputum.


  1. MarlaV

    Maybe you should become a librarian before you belittle the people that act as the gatekeeper between children and nasty language. Librarians have a responsibility to protect the children from potentially damaging information and words. Not everything is fit for a child to read. Just because some books are popular doesn’t mean they should be available to children.

  2. Funny I always thought it was a parents job to monitor what their children were reading not the librarian’s. If we’re going start talking about protecting children from books damaging words and information like with sex and violence, I suggest we might look a book called the bible, that book is filled with it.

  3. aaron wall

    I think those who are afraid of the maturity level of children and think we need to protect the children from books are probably only showing their own lack of maturity and lack of parenting skills.

    Amazing that some people do it so openly, though.

  4. DG

    I’m still reeling over the ‘gatekeeper’ comment. Scrotum isn’t ‘nasty’ language. It’s not even slang. But I think I’ll wait until I can resist the urge to throw things before I respond further.

  5. To MarlaV
    ‘Scrotum’ is not a potentially endangering word.
    It’s one of a male human being’s body part.
    Why do people like you always want to deny the existence of some of your body parts?
    Is it potentially endangering to your child to tell what scrotum is?

  6. I wonder what they would say if their own son pointed at his scrotum and asked ‘what is that called?’

    Hell in Kindergarten Cop the kids knew what a penis and a vagina were :)

  7. Zeedox

    I have a hard time imagining that a child would use the word scrotum as foul language.

  8. DG

    What really blew me away was that this wasn’t a challenge to a book by political activists, neo-cons, the Right Wing or PETA, these are librarians uttering this nonsense. They’re supposed to help people find books to read, not keep people from reading them. A look at some of the books that always make the most challenged list makes me ill:

    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
    The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    The Color Purple by Alice Walker
    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
    Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
    Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
    Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

  9. Hell MarlaV how dare we consider teaching our children the correct anatomical names for parts of the bodies?

    Shock Horror that we should actually consider educating our children. I’m the father of 10 and not one of them has been psychologically scarred by being taught to refer to their body parts by the correct terms.

    On the other hand I see a lot of psychological damage in people who have been taught to think that there is something inherently wrong or sinful about normal bodily functions and apendages.

  10. “Mommy, what’s that?”
    -“That’s your pee-pee”.

    “Mommy? What’s that under my pee-pee”
    -“ummmm ummm…. nothing. Nothing!”

    I remember seeing books the librarian had blacked out words in. It didn’t shield us from learning what phrases or words were in the book or how to use them. Guess what, yea, we figured the words out.

    I had great parents, that went to church (ooooooh!), but we still learned these words, eventually. Every child does… it’s a part of life.

  11. DG

    Hello Wmcraver,

    >>Every child does

    Agreed. I guess what is so baffling to me is that an anatomically correct term is being used as grounds for challenging the book, and librarians are the ones behind it.

  1. 1 School Librarians Censoring A Book? - Upset Over Scrotums « Tons of Fresh News

    […] 20, 2007 at 12:13 pm · Filed under Uncategorized School Librarians Censoring A Book? – Upset Over Scrotums First, I ’d just like to be clear about how I feel about librarians seeking to censor books, any […]

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