More on Sarah Palin's Attempted Book Banning
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 03:43:51 PM EST
As Banned Books Week looms on the horizon, the issue of then-Wasilla mayor Sarah Palin's attempted book banning is heating up.

While Palin did not ask for specific books to be removed, there is a back story emerging thanks to ABC News, among others -- there were specific books at issue in the community and at her church in particular.

The Nation has the relevant section of the transcript of the ABC News report by Brian Ross:  and the video of the entire report:

ROSS: Around the time Palin became mayor, [Palin's] church and other conservative Christians began to focus on certain books available in local stores and in the town library, including one called "Go Ask Alice," and another one written by a local pastor, Howard Bess, called "Pastor, I am Gay."

BESS: This whole thing of controlling, you know, information, censorship, yeah. That's a part of the scene.

ROSS: Not long after taking office, Palin raised the issue at a city council meeting of how books might be banned according to news accounts and a local resident, a Democrat, who was there.

ANNE KILKENNY: Mayor Palin asked the librarian, what is your response if I ask you to remove some books from the collection of the Wasilla Public Library?

ROSS: The Wasilla librarian, Mary Ellen Edmonds, the then president of the Alaska Library Association, responded with only a short hesitation.

KILKENNY: The librarian took a deep breath and said, the books in the collection were purchased in accordance with national standards and professional guidelines, and I would absolutely not allow you to remove any books from the collection.

"A few weeks after the council meeting, the mayor fired the librarian, although she was reinstated after a community uproar," Ross reported. "The Wasilla librarian, Mary Ellen Edmonds, left two years later, and according to friends, because it was just too hard working for Sarah Palin."

The Associated Press features the McCain campaign's efforts to downplay the episode, but includees the corroborating details first exposed by ABC. The McCain camaign acknowledges that Palin raised the issue of book banning not once, but three times with the head librarian. As ABC makes clear, she was fired and then reinstated due to popular support, meanwhile the entire staff was in fear for their own jobs.

According to the AP:

The Rev. Howard Bess, a liberal Christian preacher in the nearby town of Palmer, said the church Palin and her family attended until 2002, the Wasilla Assembly of God, was pushing to remove his book from local bookstores.

Emmons told him that year that several copies of "Pastor I Am Gay" had disappeared from the library shelves, Bess said.

"Sarah brought pressure on the library about things she didn't like," Bess said. "To believe that my book was not targeted in this is a joke."




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The moral of this story is that it's cheaper and easier to steal the books you don't want the library to have than to go through the formal process of banning the books.  I reckon.


by guleblanc on Mon Sep 15, 2008 at 01:06:51 PM EST
It turns out that even at the university library system level, they're having problems with "controversial" books vanishing.  The person I talked with said it happened so often that they knew it was deliberate.  It's also getting expensive...

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Sep 15, 2008 at 07:21:52 PM EST
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