Monday, February 26, 2007

A Follow-Up to Scrotumgate

This is a really great and balanced blog that follows-up on the Scrotum debate from Pixie Stix Kids Pix, the blog of Kristen McLean, designer, writer, and executive Director of The Association of Booksellers for Children. It seems that the NY Times was, perhaps, hasty in claiming that the book had actually been "banned" in several states. There seems to be no evidence of actual bannings. That is good to hear. Although, as the blogger points out, the NY Times use of the word "banned" without hard evidence is far more dangerous than any use of the proper word for any piece of genitalia. McLean also chides bloggers such as myself who commented on the NY Times news without having investigated the situation further, and she is completely correct in that. It was, perhaps, journalistically irresponsible of me to do so, given the fact that I was propagating misinformation on a publicly accessible website. However, I stand by my comments to the extent that I do firmly believe that the use of proper names for genitalia in books for 9-12 year olds is perfectly acceptable, and that causing them to fear the word causes them to fear, or be embarrassed by, the body part itself.
So - scrotum scrotum scrotum - but, mostly, shame on you NY Times for publishing so irresponsibly. And now, I have finished with the topic until I actually read the book, and then maybe I will review it.

6 comments:

False Prophet said...

Bah--the fact that a couple of librarians got their panties in a twist over "scrotum" is enough to justify my indignation. And if there was journalistic irresponsibility, it was on the part of the NY Times--but then again, these were the same people who let Judith Miller sell the Iraq War on no real justification.

There are reasons why I don't trust the mainstream media.

MadJenny said...

To justify indignation - yes. But to justify slanderously stating that they had actually gone ahead and banned a book, no.

Obviously I am outraged that librarians have, yet again, been portrayed in the media as hand wringing, "oh my" saying, tight-arsed, bunheads. Clearly that is not who we are.

Francis Wooby said...

Whether or not we bloggers are journalists, and thus responsible for meeting the same standards and objectives, has been widely and deeply debated over the past few years. And the discussion shows no signs of ending anytime soon.

However, what is certainly not in question is whether or no the the NY Times is responsible for thoroughly verifying its stories before putting them to press.

The blogging community's response to "Scrotumgate" is a result of the NY Time's failures, not its own.

MadJenny said...

Good point Francis. I never claimed to be an unbiased news source here. This is an explicitly personal blog, where I discuss explicitly personal views. So, in that sense, I have no moral obligation to be held to the same standards as a true journalist. Thanks. I feel better. But still a little guilty for jumping on the poor misquoted librarians.

Canadian Economist said...

A little clearer this time ....

From my view, we have to put our trust in well known, highly regarded, newspapers (I can think of many media outlets that don't come close to this criteria). As a economist, I am used to dealing with data revisions that change the way we look at the same economic indicator (such as a downward revision in GDP growth), and thus leaving no choice but to change our view of the world.

MadJenny said...

I agree, CE, to a certain extent we do need to put our trust in certain news sources, simply because they are our source of news. I guess the trouble comes in when news sources stop being responsible enough to verify what they are passing along. It seems to me that in the last few years, many reputable news sources have become mouthpieces for government propaganda, rather than independent and unbiased gatherers and deliverers of information.