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September 19, 2008


Hot on the heels of Sarah Palin's much publicized attempts at book banning comes this incident in Helena, Montana.

Helena is both the capital of the state of Montana and the county seat for Lewis and Clark County. The Chamber of Commerce touts it as a city alive with community spirit and filled with timeless treasures and sophisticated services.

Unfortunately, despite their claim of sophistication, it seems that some of its citizens would like to ban at least one of the books the Lewis and Clark Library has on its shelves. It is, of course, a gay oriented book which these self-righteous zealots think shouldn't be available to anyone.

According to a story in yesterday's Helena Independent Record:

The book, “The Joy of Gay Sex,” was petitioned to be removed from the library’s shelves after a Helena man stumbled upon it on one of his frequent visits to the library.

Ironically, this book has been available at the library since the early 1990's, which means that no one has complained about it for almost 18 years. Of course, now that a single, uptight individual has "accidentally" found it, it's suddenly objectionable to have it available in the public library.

Coauthor Edmund White said of his book:
Its sole purpose is to enrich the lives of men whose sexual preference is for men by indicating how to get the most out of sex, by pointing out ways to banish negative emotions like guilt and by encouraging intelligent, creative relationships.

In an encouraging development, at a public hearing last Tuesday night, the testimonies of supporters advocating to keep the book outnumbered those who wanted it removed from the shelves.

The Independent Record's article ended by saying: "Indeed, nearly every book on the library shelf could potentially offend or disgust a reader...it would be a far greater disservice to a community — and to democracy — to have a library that censors what people can and cannot see."

Hopefully, due the clear-minded thinking of many Helena residents, this issue won't end up in the courts because of lawsuits that the ACLU will feel obligated to file.

BTW - a newer version titled “The Joy of Gay Sex, Revised & Expanded Third Edition” by the book's original coauthor Charles Silverstein is available at Amazon.com.