Saturday, February 24, 2007

Balls away

An Associated Press article:
Lawmaker Comes Down on Plastic Gonads

Fake bull testicles and other anatomically explicit vehicle decorations would be banned from Maryland roads under a bill pending in the state legislature. The measure was filed in the General Assembly Monday by Delegate LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washingon, who says children shouldn't be exposed to giant plastic gonads dangling from pickup truck trailer hitches. The bill also would ban depictions of naked human breasts, buttocks or genitals, with offenses punishable by fines of up to $500.
"It's time to take a stand," Myers told The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail.

First of all, you have got to be kidding me. Are you telling me that there is no more pressing matter in Maryland, nothing else for LeRoy to work on? How many servicewomen and men from Maryland have been wounded in Iraq? Any of them having trouble receiving medical care, psychological treatment, disability services? Maybe something for LeRoy to look into, since he obviously has some spare time on his hands.

Second, plastic gonads are a gift to society. Everyone who thinks that they are funny should have to hang them from some part of their vehicle. Why? Because they serve as a warning. They scream, "The owner of this vehicle is a moron. When he starts hitting on you in the Walmart parking lot, run away!" Just think about how much better off we'd all be if every idiot came clearly labeled with decorative scrotums.

And speaking of scrotums, so was Jon Carroll's op-ed in Friday's SFGate:

There is a children's book called "The Higher Power of Lucky," which concerns the adventures of a plucky 10-year-old orphan who somehow eavesdrops on a 12-step meeting. That is not a promising premise, but the book won the Newbery Medal, the Oscar™ of children's literature, so maybe author Susan Patron brought it off.

But the book is the center of controversy for a whole different reason. Lucky overhears another character say that he saw a rattlesnake bite his dog, Roy, in the scrotum. Yes, the scrotum. That's what the fuss is about.

I am happy to report that, as yet, no school boards have banned "The Higher Power of Lucky," although just wait. On the other hand, the Internet is buzzing with librarians expressing outrage at the use of the word and pledging not to buy the book for their institutions, and other librarians saying, "Are you mad? 'Scrotum?' Kids shouldn't read that word? Heck, half the kids have one, for heaven's sake."

All of which reminds me of a story. On our weekly rides down to Castro Valley for her horseback riding lessons, my granddaughter, Alice, and I have discussions on a wide variety of philosophical and equine subjects. A few weeks ago, she told me that one of the horses she rode, Papa, had serious digestive difficulties.

"How do you know?" I asked.

"Every time I jog on him, his stomach just rumbles all the time."

This didn't seem right to me. Not the data -- Alice is extremely trustworthy on factual matters. But I suspected the interpretation might somehow be flawed. When we got to Miss Molly's Academy for the Horsely Arts, I asked Miss Molly herself about it. She looked at Alice.

"This is just when he jogs, right?" Alice nodded. "Oh, that's his penis slipping back and forth in his penis sheath. It's very loud." Alice nodded. The information did not shock her; it did not even strike her as funny. (It struck me as funny, but I am not as serious-minded as Alice or, indeed, as most children.) Molly said it in a very matter-of-fact way.

So here's my theory: We have gotten too far away from our agricultural heritage. Kids who grow up on farms know all about elimination and procreation and penis sheaths. Animals behave like animals, and it doesn't take a big imagination to figure out that humans are animals too. If a dog got bit on the scrotum by a rattlesnake, there would be more important things to worry about than what to call the place where the dog got nipped.

My solution: field trips. Lots of field trips. Lecture-demonstrations. Maybe that will make those squeamish librarians more comfortable.

Or we could just pile them all on the bus to Maryland. Quickly, though, because they're about to enact legislation.

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