When the daily survey question in our local newspaper recently asked, “Should the public library buy the Madonna book Sex?” I didn’t bother to call in my answer because I thought the question was absurd.  It never occurred to me that anyone would seriously consider the purchase of a book that has been acclaimed by even the most liberal entertainment personalities, including Joan Rivers, as the “dirtiest coffee-table book ever.”

When the survey results were released, they showed that 74 per cent of readers who answered said “NO” to the question.  I thought the result was as it should be, and I thought all was well in the community.

My astonishment and disbelief were enormous when I found out a few days later that Madonna, sex queen of the under world, desecrator of Christian symbols and blasphemer, debaser of human sexuality, goddess of unnatural and ugly sexual expression, had been invited into the sanctuary of our local library.

My idea of a library

When I grew up in a small village in post-war Germany, we didn’t have a library and I didn’t own any books because we were too poor.  Later, a public library was established but we didn’t boast the legacy of a Mr. Carnegie, so we had to pay for borrowing a book.

The place was small and you couldn’t sit down and read.  Nevertheless, we were very happy.

I came to Cambridge, Ontario in 1965.  Institutions such as art galleries, museums, and public libraries were free.  One could borrow many books at a time.

I remember when someone came to my door many years ago to collect my signature on a petition for a new library in Galt.  I witnessed it being built.

All these years, as our children were growing up, I was always filled with a sense of pride when one of them would say, “I’m going to the library, Mom.”  It conjured up a feeling of pride that my child would go to the library to study, research something or simply bring home an armful of books.  To me the library was a place of quiet dignity, of learning, of intellectual stimulation, of knowledge and of elevation.  Our library is generously laid out and cosily inviting, and everything is almost free and clean.

Our world has become a filthy place.  Watching TV or movies makes you want to take a bath.  Upon opening the so-called family dailies, one is confronted with never-ending discussions of sex, condoms, AIDS, perversion and crime.  The very sewers seem to have opened up.

Yet we are warned more and more about pollution.  We mustn’t smoke; we can’t burn our leaves in the fall. We are about to ban pesticides for our lawns; we are restricted from cutting down a tree on our own property, all because we must protect the environment and the world in which we live.  Clean air and water are our right!

In contrast, the language on airwaves is getting dirtier, the subject matter more explicit and the visual images more graphic.  Pornography is a billion dollar business, and young children are buying so-called “killer” cards.  Parents despair at how to protect even their very young children from filth and depravity.  Boys between the ages of 12 and 19 are the largest group of consumers of pornographic material, and our federal politicians cannot decide what to do.

Madonna moved into our public library hard on the heels of “White Ribbon Against Pornography” week proclaimed by city council for the week of October 25 – November 1.

As I have been assured that the Madonna book is probably not the only book that I would object to in our library, I stand naively and sadly confused.  I will return my card and we will shun the library from now on.  We will do so weeping, knowing that a good friend has died.