Here's a new rule to keep in mind if you are a YA novelist looking to book appearances enlightening youngsters at middle schools: do not use the word "ass" in the title of your book, particularly if it is preceded by the words "kick" and "your."
This practical lesson is brought to you by way of the writer Meg Medina, who recently authored an anti-bullying novel by the name of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. It seems Medina is the one who has had her ass kicked by one Cumberland Middle School in Virginia, which uninvited the author from an anti-bullying event after noticing the A-S-S word in the title of her book. Quelle horreur!
Medina, to her credit, is not apologizing—she insists, rightly enough, that the whole point of the book's title is to highlight the abusive language often used by bullies. Just as retweets aren't endorsements, book titles aren't—well, let her explain it:
The title is bold and troubling, and it suggests exactly what’s inside. Besides, we can fret all we want about the word ass, but that word isn’t the real trouble, is it? What’s hurting our kids is the savagery on their phones, and Facebook pages and in their classrooms.
Says the superintendent in question, cleverly employing the passive voice, "it was decided bullying prevention could be taught without using unacceptable language."
Medina is one of several authors to attract national attention for school censorship woes in recent weeks. There was, memorably, the case of the book banned from a middle school in Queens because of masturbation—and Toni Morrison, of course, is always facing down such squeamishness.
In most such cases, press surrounding the censorship drama serves up plenty of free publicity for the author—even if his or her books won't be filling the shelves of the English classrooms in question.