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September 09, 2008

"Book banning ways"

Katy thinks I was a little misleading in my previous post when I was talking about Palin's "book banning ways," and would like me to clarify. Normally I wouldn't respond to this, but while I am no Fox News and make no claims of being fair and balanced, I have been trying to make sure that I properly distinguish between fact and opinion. Katy is right in calling me out for blurring the line between the two. I also don't want John Scalzi to yell at me.

So, regarding Sarah Palin and book banning. My original source was this Time Magazine article:
[Former Wasilla mayor] 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.
I was forwarded this article by several of my blog readers, forwarded it to several others, and also read about it on other librarian blogs. Considering that any readers I don't know personally tend to be other librarians, I didn't feel the need to mention this article.

I did, however, link to the blog Librarians Against Palin, which despite its inflammatory title has not made any unsubstantiated accusations. The blog's author and commenters have been digging up documentation about the whole censorship issue - namely contemporary newspaper articles and the like, such as this article from the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman.
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.

“This is different than a normal book-selection procedure or a book-challenge policy,” Emmons stressed Saturday. “She was asking me how I would deal with her saying a book can't be in the library.”
In any case, no books were actually banned by Mayor Palin, and her defense has been, then and now, that her questions were purely rhetorical. Nevertheless, in my opinion, one doesn't "rhetorically" ask about banning books unless one is interested in doing so. Palin asked about this in the context of her, as mayor, having the ability to censor books, not in the general context of, say, what is the library's policy on challenging books.

Additionally, and even more objectionable, Palin requested the librarian's resignation shortly thereafter, and only relented after a pulic outcry. From the Anchorage Daily News:
A few months later, the librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, got a letter from Palin telling her she was going to be fired. The censorship issue was not mentioned as a reason for the firing. The letter just said the new mayor felt Emmons didn't fully support her and had to go.

Emmons had been city librarian for seven years and was well liked. After a wave of public support for her, Palin relented and let Emmons keep her job.

I hadn't gone into this in much detail in my post because while I find this says volumes about Palin's character and personal ethics which I find abhorrent, I'm not really concerned that if she should be elected as vice-president she would immediately go about banning books and firing librarians. I actually agree with librarian T.Scott on this issue:
There are lots of good reasons to be opposed to her election as Vice-President, and I would not want to be misinterpreted as trying to defend her. But I suffer from this quaint devotion to the facts and it's hard for me to see how claiming that Palin attempted to ban books and then tried to fire the librarian for failing to do so is any different than claiming the Michelle Obama hates America or that Barack is going to raise everybody's taxes or any of the other ridiculous claims that set democratic supporters frothing over the terrible misdeeds of Republicans.
So, in any case, I was perhaps a little frothy when I even linked to the site or mentioned Palin's book banning ways, but I was attempting to be a little humorous as well as a little cranky, which apparently did not go over well. In any case, I shall attempt to be more clear about fact and opinion on my site in the future. But again, these posts are quite time consuming and emotionally draining, so I will more likely lay off unless I get fired up about something else.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting! Lots of links to check out. I appreciate the effort.

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  2. Facts on Palin:

    Specifically, she was asked: Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?

    Palin’s response: The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.”

    Palin supports Annual Christian Heritage Week. I don't feel I need to comment much more on opposing a government sanctioned week of celebration over a single religion in a country of such diversity. Thats not the governments job. Let christian churches promote that.

    And when asked about teaching creationism in schools she said:

    “Teach both [evolution and creationism]. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both. And, you know, I say this, too, as the daughter of a science teacher. Growing up with being so privileged and blessed to be given a lot of information on, on both sides of the subject -- creationism and evolution. It's been a healthy foundation for me. But don't be afraid of information and let kids debate both sides."

    I am sorry but creationism has no place in a science class because it simply does not follow from the scientific method. IF, and by if I mean I don't, I advocated schools teaching about creationism it could be taught in a religious studies class and they can cover ALL the different creation stories of all the earth's religions, past and present, over the course of the year.

    My political two cents on Palin.

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