The Case of the Naughty Library Book

sex_howtodo_missingthe cover of our scandalous (at least in Michigan) book

We probably shouldn’t be as tickled pink as we are over the fact that the presence of our humble little book, SEX: How to Do Everything, in a Michigan public library ruffled one pastor’s starched feathers so much that he filed an official complaint which resulted in an actual news article about it in The Lansing Journal yesterday!:

If Pastor Brian Henley were your 12-year-old son and he told you how he came across the book, “Sex: How to do Everything,” you might not believe him.

Henley said he was strolling through the Holt-Delhi Library recently when he spotted a book on the floor.

“I picked it up and opened it and saw full naked real-life images,” Henley wrote in an e-mail to me.

The piece, which reads like an Encyclopedia Brown mystery (how exactly did the pastor come upon the book, eh? why have all three copies of the book in the library district now gone missing?) is HI-lariously deconstructed by the blogger Ironicus Maximus here. In response to the quote from the pastor in the piece about how he “was not objecting to the book and the freedom of adults to use it (even though I am a pastor, and don’t approve of that type of material),” Maximus writes:

Right. The last thing we want is for people to learn how to do that sex stuff better. You know what that leads to don’t you? Why the wimmen folks will all be wantin’ to have them there whatdayacallit, Organisms? Then they’d start reading Cosmo and be all, “you never consider my feelings” and who needs that kind of pressure, you know?

Wait, it gets even better! Sarah Redman, the adult selection specialist for the Capital Area District Library, became our new hero by responding to the complaint in a letter which read, in part:

“Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns about our inclusion of ‘Sex: How to do Everything’ … I can certainly understand that the authors’ use of photos of a nude man and woman to illustrate the information could be disconcerting.

“Our patrons are interested in how-to manuals on every topic imaginable and sex is no exception. The use of high-quality, clear and instructive illustrations enhances the written text for books about plumbing repair and rose gardening. They are also helpful, although more unexpected, in books which help individuals understand their sexuality.”

Redman went on to say she found the photos in the book “clearly related to the written information the authors were sharing about safe practices, anatomy, sexual fantasies and aids and the wide variety of approaches couples can use for intercourse.”

As for the question of whether the book should be accessible to minors, Redman said the book is in the adult section of the library and that it’s up to parents to decide if their children should have access to that material.

We really should send her some flowers.


  1. Can anyone say,”Free Speech”.I believe it is up to the parents.
    “Freedom of speech was not intended to only protect what is morally correct,but also to protect what may not be morally correct” I believe Colin Powell said this,please correct me if I am wrong.

  2. What Ironicus blogged and Slartibartfast commented.

    Send Sarah Redman flowers, a box of candy, and a signed copy of the book! m/

  3. is it just me or do preists have a way of overreacting to this kind of thing… and by over reacting i mean like seriously waaay over the top!

  4. As a group, we really owe librarians a debt of gratitude. Most people don’t fully appreciate what an important role they play in keeping ours as free and open a society as it is. I have the good fortune to be the son of such a person, and it has been amazing over the years to see the incursions of benighted ignorance and half-crazed Visigoths that she’s had to repel.

    While the popular image of a librarian may be one of a mousy shrinking violet or ‘shushing’ martinet, more often the reality is closer to a mujahideen of information services. Waging a battle against the forces of barbarism (as exemplified by the good pastor in this instance). I know that she’s very proud of the stance the American Library Association took in opposition to the PATRIOT Act and the ALA refusal to retain any records of material that could be requested under provisions of the act.

  5. Thank you for the kind words. You might be interested to know that the good pastor seems to have a bit of a hang up when it comes to sex in general. If you look at the podcasts he offers his flock, you’ll notice they are ALL about TEH SEXXOR!!1!!elventy!!


    PS: Our favorite is Porn Breakfast

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