The dictionary? really? | Eastern North Carolina Now

Lib Campbell: Above
    News from Florida and Texas these days is shocking. Both Governors appear to be in a race to the bottom. One of them is running miserably for President of the United States. God help us.

    In Florida, besides a feud with Disney, women and immigrants, book banning is now in high gear. News reports that encyclopedias and dictionaries are the latest on the chopping block. Who among us would say it's a good idea to remove everything that will inform, enlighten, and expand our understandings of the world?

    But here's the deal. Tamping down enlightenment, information, and understanding of history, life, and science is exactly the purpose. Let's close the doors of knowledge. That oughta keep them barefoot and ignorant enough to be manipulated.

    The made-for-TV wars on books plays to the group who want to retrofit America to the way it was - White, Christian, Male. Have you forgotten the first English person born on American soil was female? Virginia Dare. She remains part of a lost colony soon to be joined by all people of color, any people who are gender differenced, and uppity women. A great erasure is underway. Many are onboard. And why?


    The most obvious answer is fear. Fear of not-enough-ness and displacement drives the grievance that blankets our culture. Right wing media, evangelical churches and too many political leaders stoke it. Here, in the richest country in the world, where doors have been opened to minorities and women for years, there are people who seem ready to slam those doors. Bye-bye opportunity.

    Living in a punitive world is not edifying for the masses. Gay people are punished just for being themselves. Black people get shot just by knocking on the wrong door. Women are bleeding to death in states that have made pregnancy dangerous for anybody of childbearing age.

    Pendulums swing, back and forth. Left and right. We are caught in a dangerous cycle of small mindedness, cruelty, and ignorance. No one is painting a picture of what or who we can be.

    We approach another cycle of elections with trepidation. Our hope lies in young people not tainted by the hate of their fathers, who use the Internet to search words and concepts. They may just scoff at your silly book bans as folly from elders too afraid that a little knowledge may remove them from their perches of power.


    Years ago, we played a game with our children called, "The Dictionary Game." Player One would choose a word, write the real definition on a piece of paper, then announce the word to the rest of the players, who were charged with writing a definition of their own. All the definitions would be, collected, read and voted on. Sometimes phony definitions won, sometimes the real definition won. Always new words were learned. When the grandchildren grew such huge vocabularies, the game became difficult to play. A fake definition would fool no one.

    A good vocabulary equips us to make better decisions, and our points of argument more persuasive. Literacy is linked to our knowledge of words, because words are builders. Words build sentences. Sentences build paragraphs. Paragraphs build essays, briefs, sermons, and great literature.

    2023 Literacy rates in the US show the national average for literacy is 79%. The literacy rate in North Carolina is 86.4%. Sixty-eight percent of US 4th graders are below optimal reading level proficiencies.

    Both Florida and Texas rank in the bottom five for literacy in statistics reported by The World Population Review, Annie E. Casie Foundation, Forbes Readability Matters and the Pew Research Center. They also report that 21% of Americans are illiterate and 54% have a literacy rate below a sixth-grade level. These numbers are theirs, not mine.

    But the numbers tell a story of failure of leaders who don't rise to make sure students are equipped with every tool, every book, every dictionary and thesaurus, every bit of information they need to prepare them for leadership in a brave new world.

    It is said, "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." A populous with only a little knowledge will be easily led and manipulated. Knowledge is the way we push back. Threats and political bullying reduce us to a culture of thugs and derelicts. Surely this is not the future any of us wants.


    Supposedly, elections are the way to right all the wrongs growing among us. That's why elections are so critical today. From thirty thousand feet, we must really look stupid, risking the American experiment and the bright hope of the world to sniveling losers, con men, and charlatans. At every turn, even at the bookshelf, they seek to unravel 200 years of progress.

    We may not be there yet, but if we allow the fear mongers and deniers their way, there is little hope for progress. We simply become lemmings, following pathetic leaders off the cliff.

    Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, retreat leader and hosts the website: She welcomes comments at
Go Back

Leave a Guest Comment

Your Name or Alias
Your Email Address ( your email address will not be published)
Enter Your Comment ( no code or urls allowed, text only please )


( February 29th, 2024 @ 10:57 pm )
This Campbell woman is a total far left flake and a pure propagandist. When the "woke" left starts politicizing some encyclopedias and dictionaries, it makes good sense to just use the ones that are not being politicized. Otherwise students would be politically indoctrinated which is what this far left moron wants. Her Methodist roots, I am sure, would be in the very "woke" United Methodist Church, not the common sense Global Methodist Church.

A good example of one that should NOT be used in schools is Wikipedia, whose own co-founder has denounced it as having become "badly biased to the left" after Wikipedia changed some of its policies that had been designed to try to keep it balanced. That former balance is now gone.

NC truly was First in Freedom LibSpeak, Editorials, Op-Ed & Politics Mass farmer protests against climate alarmist agenda spreads to Romania & France


Back to Top