A school district in California has banned Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th Edition) after a child found the definition for “oral sex” in its pages. The initial story made the decision seem a fairly done deal, but a later issued story indicates that the decision is under review. I wonder about the decision to first put “collegiate” dictionaries in fourth and fifth grade classrooms, but given that the dictionary is available online (including the definition in question), does the district really think it is doing anyone any favors?
Interestingly, the reason I am aware of Webster’s online presence (I tend to use Oxford’s dictionaries, myself, but they are all paywalled) is that the online version is regularly cited by federal and state courts when discussing definitions (I may do a study of this to see when the shift from printed dictionaries to online dictionaries took place and how extensive it is). If it’s good enough for the courts, shouldn’t it be good enough for the kids?