Why did the Home Ministry ban Peter Mayle's Where Did I Come From?
Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer for the question I ask in the title of this blog post. Yes, I know that the Deputy Secretary-General of the Home Ministry has explained the reason why but for the life of me, I cannot wrap my head around it.
In case you’re not sure what I’m going on about, the Home Ministry has banned the sale of Peter Mayle’s book called Where Did I Come From? on the grounds that, according to a report by The Star, “it could be detrimental to society’s morals and of public interest.”
Truth be told, I didn’t even know what the book was about. But seeing the tweets yesterday mentioning the title of the book with the word “ban”, I could forge a guess. And then I let out a deep sigh.
I then went on to Amazon to find out about the book and found that it was only £4.40, so I ordered it (I also get free shipping) to see what the fuss is all about. Now, having read it (thank you, one day delivery!), I still don’t see what the fuss is.
Yes, I will agree, the topic can be embarrassing to some. In fact, the author even acknowledges this. In his dedication, he wrote:
“For Simon, Nicholas, Christopher, Jane and red-faced parents everywhere.”
I can totally understand that, of course. Sex can be a very private matter and it is hard for some parents to talk to their children about this. But that is exactly what this book is for. It is marketed as “first-aid for parents”, so it was written to help them with the very difficult task of talking to their children about the birds and the bees.
I am thinking back to when I was much younger and I would think that this book would have been most helpful considering the fact that my parents never spoke to me about sex, and that my teachers in school were not even comfortable talking about sexual reproductive organs (even in secondary school, and they totally skipped a whole chapter from our syllabus!).
The fact is that sex education is terribly important. Research has shown that having access to such knowledge is not only important to protect young people, but could save lives as well. And already we don’t have proper sex education in school, now we are banning a book that can help us address this issue?
I also take offense to the moral policing that our government is taking on our behalf without looking at the larger context of things.
Abdul Rahim was quoted to have said:
“If the contents are found have elements that could harm the moral of the community, we would ban it.”
By whose values are were gauging this by, Sir?
UMNO also got into the fray. It’s Youth wing Community Complaints Bureau chairman Datuk Muhd Khairun Aseh noted that the book was stocked in the children’s section at book stores.
I can agree that this might be a mistake on the store’s part. The book appears to help parents with dealing with their children’s issues so maybe it should be placed in the parenting section instead. I can understand that. I can even appreciate if the shelves where these books are placed is labelled with a warning that the book is not suitable for kids below a certain age group to read without adult consent.
I think that these are reasonable suggestions and are more positive and pro-active than a simple blanket ban.
But what I cannot agree with Muhd Khairun was his statement about the “degree of obscenity” being “too much” because the illustrations show the make and female genitalia. Are we then going to ban text books in school as well?
Never mind that its bad enough that our Government – the people we elected to power – is telling us what we can or cannot read, but I find it almost insulting that we are expected to have to live with such narrow views on what is to be considered obscene. In all seriousness, do we really think that anyone is going to have a personal jolly time looking at the cartoon pictures of a man with his penis showing, and a woman with breast?
I think people can get more thrills from watching a music video on TV (never mind the easy access to pornography these days).
Are people so free that they have nothing else to do but complain about the most trivial of matters? I understand that some people in the public may have complained about this (it’s our national pastime after all; that and lodging police reports) but surely, we have to look at the larger picture before just acting on the whims of some?
When are we going to stop reacting to things in a negative manner, and find more positive ways to address issues, especially those that have benefits for greater good?
12.12am Greenwich Meridian Time