Grand Old Censorship

I just had to copy this over from Pages Turned because it’s so horrifying:

Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. “She asked the library how she could go about banning books,” he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. “The librarian was aghast.” That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving “full support” to the mayor.

—Nathan Thornburgh, Time

The librarian was lucky because in her very short time in public offices Palin has fired numerous officials for disagreeing with her extreme right-wing views. A few rigged voting machines and a heart attack and this woman could be the President of the United States. Think about it. And then get out and stop her.

Update: There’s a bit more on Palin’s attempt to ban books in the New York Times (via and the Anchorage Daily News (via Pages Turned).

Update II:Here is the original news story from the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman (via Pages Turned). I think this is my favourite part:

But on Monday, Oct. 28, Emmons said Palin asked her outright if she
could live with censorship of library books. This was during a weak (sic)
when Palin was requesting resignations from all  the city’s department
heads as a way of expressing loyalty.

What is this, the middle ages? Did Palin think she was running a feudal duchy? Someone needs to explain democracy to her. Soon.

13 comments on “Grand Old Censorship

  1. Stefanie says:

    I know, isn't this horrible? For some reason my mother is deluded into thinking that McCain and Palin will make great leaders. My sister and I are working hard to change her mind 🙂

  2. David_notacynic says:

    Not all books can be bought and stacked in the public libraries. Thus, there must be a criteria for resource distribution.
    Most public officials would realize that people don't read classics, philosophy, and history, and so those would be left out. Maybe Palin just gives people more credit.
    I shudder to think what books Obama would ban, if he actually cared.

  3. Sylvia says:

    Palin was not trying to cut costs (though she did cut library funding) but she was trying to control what people could and couldn't read. Democrats like Obama think people should be allowed to decide for themselves what to read and how to live. I believe that's called “freedom.”

  4. wil says:

    Hmm… depending on which books she wanted to ban, she may have just lost my vote. 😉

  5. Sylvia says:

    So, it would be OK if she banned The Da Vinci Code? 😉

  6. Susan says:

    Why do you think Obama would ban books, David? And why do you think banning books means Palin gives people more credit?

  7. Betty says:

    This is a false rumor that has spread around the net like wildfire. The info came from a blogger who said the findings DO NOT appear to be true especially as many of the books had not even been printed at the time. Please do your own research and don't rely on the internet w/ it's infinite political agendas to do it for you.

  8. Sylvia says:

    I think the rumour you're referring to is a fictitious list of books that Palin puportedly wanted to ban. That's not what I'm referring to here. It was reported in her local newspaper that she fired the head librarian and then recanted after the community protested. It was and is alleged that she fired her for refusing to agree to ban books if Palin asked her to in future. As far as I know Palin has not denied this. Given her extreme evangelical beliefs (e.g. denying evolution) it is an entirely plausible accusation since it has been done or attempted in many schools and libraries in the U.S. by other evangelicals like her.

  9. David_notacynic says:

    Yes, she did ask the librarian if some books could be withdrawn because of being offensive; no, they couldn’t; yes she did threaten to fire the librarian a month later; no, that wasn’t over the books thing but instead over administrative issues; no, the librarian wasn’t fired either; yes, the librarian was a big supporter of one of her political opponents; yes, the librarian was also the girlfriend of the Chief of police Palin fired while in office; no, this is not the first time in the history of civilization that someone has been threatened with being fired over a political dispute.
    I suppose we should still be filled with dread?

  10. Sylvia says:

    From what I've read, the librarian was actually fired, but the order was rescinded after public protest. Several other officials under Palin weren't so lucky. We already know what happens when loyalty and ideology are valued over competence and reality at the federal level…

  11. Sylvia says:

    And yes, we should dread anyone who wants to restrict what people can read.

  12. David_notacynic says:

    Your update is right-on. But why run-down her understanding of democracy? When an executive is installed in any administrative position within that branch (as opposed to judicial and legislative) he/she is able to reassign positions of executive/administrative power to other people. For instance, the president is able to reappoint any and all U.S. Attorneys and the Attorney General, at will. This is because we have a tripartite system of government with the executive needing the ability to execute.
    As mayor or governor it should not surprise anyone to find that she fired and re-assigned others to a certain executive/administrative task.
    And by your not having a book on your bookshelf, are you restricting what others may read? If Barnes and Nobles does not have a copy of Goethe's portable works, is that restricting me from reading it?

  13. Sylvia says:

    She was in charge of a village with 5000 people (at the time). Demanding “loyalty” from the department heads in that context is grandiose, to say the least. I live in a city of 100,000 and city hall is completely non-partisan. If partisan politics is not necessary at this level, it's certainly not necessary in a tiny Alaskan hamlet.
    David, I don't think you fully appreciate the concept of the public library. It is not the same as a book store. It is there to provide free access to information to all people without prejudice. Censorship at the whim of a single politician goes against everything public libraries stand for. Can you see the colossal irony of censorship in a country that claims to love freedom above all else?

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