Shrouding Scrotum in a Cloud of Shame
Was it because "scrotum" is slang? Nope. "Scrotum" is not only standard English but also a scientific term. There are, of course, slang words for "scrotum." But one trembles at the thought of what would have happened had the novelist employed them.
One librarian had the balls to blame the novel’s author for not having the young readers in mind. Huh? Is “good” fiction supposed to target its audience the way commercials target potential customers?
Said another librarian: “I wouldn’t want to have to explain” the word. Why not? Explaining words is a key job in teaching.
But possibly this librarian meant that kids—knowing the word "scrotum"—might laugh out of embarrassment when they came across it. They might. I recall our ninth grade class reading Julius Caesar . When we came to the lines—"What need we any spur but our own cause/To prick us to redress?"—…most of us laughed. Then our teacher explained the word. No one was corrupted. Parents didn’t storm the school.
Do we need a panel of experts to decide what body-part names ten-year-olds can talk about? I suppose "mouth" would acceptable, but at the other end of the alimentary canal, "rectum" might be suspect, even though—as WORDS OF A FEATHER explains—it's a close etymological relative of "rectitude."
English is celebrated for its vast vocabulary. Bannishing words is not merely contrary to freedom, it destroys the very language that we use to express that freedom. With librarians like those who didn't want to touch "scrotum," whose needs book burners?