On the naughty step conduct that deserves a ticking off

24th February 2012 at 00:00

This week: Malaysia's Home Ministry

"Making love is like skipping. You can't do it all day long." Straightforward advice like this is one reason why Peter Mayle's classic Where Did I Come From? has become a go-to book for parents and primary teachers who are asked awkward questions about sex.

Last year the evangelical Christian Institute attacked the book, claiming parents would be "deeply upset" by its "explicit" content, which it suggested was the latest sign of the sexualisation of society. This was rather undermined by the fact that the book was published in 1973, so was already well-known to many parents of today's primary pupils. Plus, informed teachers tend not to value PSHE advice from organisations with track records of opposing gay rights.

The book's illustrations of a naked, happy, well-built couple aren't shocking. In fact, today they seem a positive antidote to the airbrushed, miserable internet porn images that will sadly be many children's introduction to sex. However, Malaysia's Home Ministry has now joined the worriers. It has ordered all of the country's bookshops to stop sales of Where Did I Come From? pending a review to see if it contains "elements harmful to public morals and corrupt people's minds". Anyone caught selling it in Malaysia faces jail or a #163;4,200 fine.

So we must place the Home Ministry on the naughty step until the review's outcome. If they had banned Peter Mayle's other bestseller, A Year In Provence, we might have let them off.

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