McCain’s VP Wanted Books Banned

Here’s one reason why the prospect of having this person elected as Vice President of the world’s remaining superpower is a disquieting one for a bibliophile like me. A Time Magazine feature on Sarah Palin’s “rough record” as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, in 1996 reveals:

[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.” The librarian, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire her for not giving “full support” to the mayor.

A New York Times story adds:

Anne Kilkenny, a Democrat who said she attended every City Council meeting in Ms. Palin’s first year in office, said Ms. Palin brought up the idea of banning some books at one meeting. “They were somehow morally or socially objectionable to her,” Ms. Kilkenny said.

The librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, pledged to “resist all efforts at censorship,” Ms. Kilkenny recalled. Ms. Palin fired Ms. Emmons shortly after taking office but changed course after residents made a strong show of support. Ms. Emmons, who left her job and Wasilla a couple of years later, declined to comment for this article. ■


1 Comment

  1. Over here, “the real story about the books” is reasoned out as follows:

    Palin asked the librarian what she would do if she were asked to remove books from the library. Palin didn’t actually ask her to remove any books. It was a “loyalty test” because Palin had defeated a long-time mayor who had hired most of the city staff. Basically, Palin didn’t want to retain staff who would undermine her decisions and support the defeated ex-mayor.

    It’s beyond me why Palin should ask a librarian a hypothetical question on what she would do if asked to ban books as a sort of “loyalty test.” Loyal or not, it’s not surprising that the librarian reacted the way she did knowing her responsibilities to uphold the Library Bill of Rights as adopted by the American Library Association.

    After all, the document did stress that one, “materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.” Two, “libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” And that three, “libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”

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