Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sarah Palin: Beauty Queen, Veep Nominee... Book Banner?

Sarah Palin snagged headlines two years ago as the Republican vice presidential nominee alongside John McCain- and the kind of female politician many women did not want backing them up. But among other things (Um, "I can see Russia from my backyard"?), she has been accused of being a potential book censor.

There was a supposed list of books that Palin had banned from Wasilla, AK libraries while she was mayor; among them were some books popular with censors, such as A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and various books from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. According to, the list is a fake. Instead, back in 1996 when Palin had first assumed mayorship of the city, she had begun some discussions with the librarian about whether or not she could ban some "objectionable" books from the library, should the need to arise. The Anchorage Daily News reported that the librarian confirmed Palin had asked her three times, beginning before being sworn in, if it were possible. The article also revealed that there was and is no documentation of any actual books being removed from the library- indicating that the librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, was definitely disapproving of the idea. also assumes this position.

According to my sources, Emmons was initially released from her position because Palin believed she did not have her "full support" as mayor; after public outcry, however, she was reinstated.

The mere fact that Palin wanted books banned is unsurprising to me, but still disturbing. It basically gives me the idea that she cares nothing for the exercise of free speech, and that she's just like the parents who fight to "protect their children's minds," ie. keep them ignorant until it's entirely inappropriate to do so. Either way, respect to Emmons for standing up to her and keeping her own integrity-and that of libraries in general-intact. The purpose of these institutions is to provide knowledge and information, as well as entertainment, to the people- and any watered-down version of that should be scorned.

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