The fear of words haunts Grosse Pointe Park

fear of words

I’ve never quite understood the fear of words.

First, a full disclosure; I used to write for the Detroit Metro Times. I wrote a column entitled “Free Your Mind” that ran for five years until October 2006 and that I’m still very proud of. That was some of the best writing I ever did as a journalist, if I do say so myself.

Secondly, I just read an AP article that the Grosse Pointe Park Public Library system now plans to keep the Detroit Metro Times hidden and chained in the basement like that ugly relative you don’t like to talk about (OK, maybe not chained, or in the basement but still) for the sake of what must be a very dainty readership. This is apparently happening as a protective and preventative measure designed to save the chastity and purity of those readers in Grosse Pointe Park who felt compelled to complain to the Grosse Pointe Park Library Board that the Metro Times has too many vulgar advertisements of a sexual nature and therefore should not be on public display. Because geez, the kids might see it.

OK scratch the kids because we can probably safely assume the kids have already seen much, much worse in much more graphic detail on their cell phones, computers and/or iPads. So let’s scratch that one. But then I thought maybe this was to protect those elderly who still haven’t quite adjusted to the idea of so much sex stuff out in the open instead of locked up tight in the bedroom where it belongs like Ma and Pa used to do it. And do it. And do it again. Or maybe it’s to save the…

But wait. How long has the Metro Times been at the Grosse Pointe Park Library anyway? Because unless they just started carrying that spunky little alternative news and arts weekly on their shelves then I kinda have to wonder, like, was nobody reading the Metro Times at the library for all this time? Or did nobody see the ads? Or were they all enjoying those ads a bit too much until somebody harumphed their displeasure to the Board who then snapped to attention and supported the censure of the MT by a vote of 7-0 last week. Says the Detroit Free Press:


The age-old debate over whether to limit sexually explicit expression took a new turn last week in Grosse Pointe Park when residents demanded that the Metro Times be banned in the city and in libraries serving the five Grosse Pointes.

The residents’ concerns went beyond typical complaints about obscenity when some charged the alternative weekly tabloid’s advertisers with promoting human trafficking — a term used to describe coerced prostitution and forced labor, usually of women — through sexually-explicit advertisements.

The Grosse Pointe Library Board, facing half a dozen critics of the tabloid, considered a ban, then voted 7-0 last week simply to stack the Metro Times out of sight.

“We’re taking this out of the vestibules and we’ll have it behind the counter from now on,” library board president Brian Garves of Grosse Pointe Shores said.

Patrons of the system’s three libraries — in Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Park — will have to ask for copies from now on. And only those 18 and older or accompanied by an adult are likely to get one, although distribution will be “at the discretion of the librarian,” according to a board resolution.

Stick and stones will break your bones, but ain’t nothin like some well-placed words and a few sexy ads to get you banned from polite society for life.




But then this makes me wonder a bit, because if this isn’t for the safety of poor unsuspecting children, or to prevent the elderly and others faint of heart from passing out in the aisles from shock

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