Monday, February 19, 2007

Balls to the culture wars

The latest skirmish in America's culture wars appears to be being waged amongst the bookshelves of elementary school libraries. There has allegedly been much wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst teachers and librarians because the latest winner of the Newbery Medal includes the use of the word (and more sensitive readers may wish to look away now) "scrotum". Yes shockingly author Susan Patron has decided to defile the youth of America by using the correct anatomical term for a part of the male genitalia (and in the context of a dog not a man).

Of course the cynic in me suspects this just a put-up job by Ms Patron's PR company. However, because she has already won a prestigious award (which according to the NYT guarantee's her a spot in most elementary school classrooms) and the fact that not even in their most coke addled moment could a PR have dreamt that the word scrotum could have caused so much fuss, I am willing to entertain the idea that this is not a put-up job. That is worrying. From my experience of studying in the State's many young Americans are woefully ill-informed about how to use their genitalia safely (at USC they reckoned 1 in 3 students would catch an STI while they were there), god help them if they can't even name them.

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