7 thoughts on “What’s Wrong With the Word ‘Scrotum’ in a Children’s Book? – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I like your blog a great deal and i have a lot of respect for you, Richard. But these kinds of issues to me are just button-pushing. We have enough of that.

  2. Thanks for yr words of support.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “button-pushing.” That the author was deliberately provoking the librarians by including the word?

    Anyway, I think the issue of free speech and literary censorship is important. I have 3 young children & when you’re a parent these issues become meaningful to you.

  3. Yes, it’s a provocation. i don’t think you need the word scrotum in a book for chidlren, other than to push the envelope for its own sake. Thus it becomes a symbolic issue, and an unnecessary one. If you’re worried about freedom of the press — and there’s good reason to worry — do something worthwhile, like this:

    http://rackstrawpress.nfshost.com/

    BtW, I have two young children myself.

  4. The woman is an author. She writes fiction. She deserves the license to write about the world as she sees fit. The event actually happened:

    Reached at her home in Los Angeles, Ms. Patron said she was stunned by the objections. The story of the rattlesnake bite, she said, was based on a true incident involving a friend’s dog.

    Would you deny her the creative right to write about something that moved her enough to want to include it in her story? If people don’t like the book, they don’t have to buy it. They don’t have to let their kids read it. But I’d say in winning a Newbery Medal she deserves a wide creative birth before we judge her poorly for what she written.

    We’ve got 12 year old children engaging in sexual activity in this country. I’d think the word “scrotum” is the least of our worries.

  5. I have to agree with Richard – the Puritanic American aversion to exposing children to anything at all dealing with sex is just way overboard. I do think if the book was about a MAN getting bit on the scrotum would be inappropriate – but do we need to pretend to children that animals (who you may have notice do walk around naked) have sexual organs. That this is normal and not to be feared!

  6. You know, I find i actually agree with Dan, and so I was trying to understand why I reacted the way I did to the original posting. I think it’s because the way the posting is structured preserves in almost pristine purity the wayin which the issue was framed by the newspaper and the librarians, with Richard’s own input being both very brief and very political-protesty.

    Whereas Dan makes the point in a moderate, common-sense way.

    Looks like I was being unfair to the author. I wouild say, though, that such “button-pushing” does go on all the time, even if in this case it was more the newspaper (assisted, I assume inadvertently, by Richard), than the author, that actually pushed my button.

  7. Testicles.Balls. Scrotum. Sack. Nuts. There, I said them.

    These very nice ladies could be awarded the ‘Mary Whitehouse’ award for safeguarding our childrens’ ignorance of the world around them, and making a ballsup of teaching our children about reproduction and anatomy in a non-sensationalised manner. It’s just a word, a descriptive word, and not one to make a fuss over. It’s also a word without much baggage – I would prefer children to learn the real words, rather than be taught crude and derogatory words for the sexual parts of our body by their peers on the school playground.

    I’m off to write a book about ‘My Dad’s Vasectomy’ now, and will relish describing the part where he winces where all three of his children try to sit on his lap, unaware of his delicate condition

    Warning – Anglocentrism:
    I guess this is the first time in history when the dogs bollocks is not ‘the dogs bollocks*’.
    *dogs bollocks is obscene english slang for ‘excellent’ and was immortalised in a Geordie (Northumbrian) comic called ‘Viz’

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