I Suppose None of This Is Surprising From the Girl Who Read 'Clan of the Cave Bear' When She Was Eleven...
First, happy Ash Wednesday.* I've taken it upon myself to wish everyone a happy Ash Wednesday since having a Catholic best friend in seventh grade. My only regret is that the Colbert Report is a repeat tonight - seeing him go through that show with the ashes on his forehead is one of the most disassociating, surreal things ever to happen on a tv screen.
Moving on, you may have read yesterday, perhaps in the New York Times, about a censorship craze against The Higher Power of Lucky, this year's winner of the Newberry Medal. The offending bits:
Sammy told of the day when he had drunk half a gallon of rum listening to Johnny Cash all morning in his parked '62 Cadillac, then fallen out of the car when he saw a rattlesnake on the passenger seat biting his dog, Roy, on the scrotum
[and a bit later...]
The question of Short Sammy's dog's scrotum settled into one certain brain crevice as she picked her way among the weedy bushes of the dry wash. Even though Lucky could ask Short Sammy almost anything and he wouldn't mind, she could never ask about the story of Roy, since she had overheard it. If she asked about Roy, then he would know that she'd been eavesdropping at the anonymous twelve-step meetings.
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, and Lucky was glad she was a girl and would never have such an aspect as a scrotum to her own body. Deep inside she thought she would be interested in seeing an actual scrotum. But at the same time -- and this is where Lucky's brain was very complicated -- she definitely did not want to see one.
And everyone's freaking out. So much for these being the days when kids are taught the names of all their body parts, vagina & elbow all the same. Librarians all over are banning the book like it's going out of style. (Would that it were. The banning, not the book.) If you want to be really frustrated for a bit, go read the Times article, and all its wonderful quotes from educators. A wee sampling (I think these are all from librarians):
"If I were a third- or fourth-grade teacher, I wouldn't want to have to explain that."
"This book included what I call a Howard Stern-type shock treatment just to see how far they could push the envelope, but they didn't have the children in mind... How very sad."
"I don’t think our teachers, or myself, want to do that vocabulary lesson."
People are morons. And afraid. Of absolutely nothing.
Neil Gaiman points out the absurdity of this quote: "I don’t want to start an issue about censorship, but you won’t find men’s genitalia in quality literature." The quote, rightfully, leaves him "wondering what men's genitalia have to do with a dog's bollocks, and whether the lady in question has actually read the book she's trying to stamp out." The quote just leaves me pissed off. Gaiman reminds us that where he comes from, "'the dog's bollocks' is an expression of approbation and unconditional approval." And you can't doubt the people who brought us "scrumping."
He also provides a link to this handy list: "a list of books for the young, probably already in the libraries, with scrota (or even scrotums) in them. This is probably provided for rogue librarians who now need to hunt these books down and remove them, scrotums and all."
*Jaime (4:19:11 PM): i have no idea what ash wednesday corresponds to for jesus.
Jaime (4:19:13 PM): maybe nothing.
Someone Possibly Catholic (4:19:24 PM): I'm not sure either. And I should know... hmm
SPC (4:19:31 PM): something about...... Ashes.
Jaime (4:20:45 PM): well, it's the first day of lent, right? and lent counts down to easter?
SPC (4:21:11 PM): Yeah... it's six weeks 'till easter. If the ash monster sees his shadow, then easter comes early.
Jaime (4:21:24 PM): ah, of course. thank you!
SPC (4:21:31 PM): Surely. I'm a teacher.