Book Gate. Palin Wanted to Ban Books.

5 09 2008

That den of iniquity we know as The Wasilla Public Library. From my photo safari of Wasilla.

Book banning. This is just getting downright medieval. It’s out now that Sarah Palin, while mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, tried to fire City Librarian Dorothy Emmons for not agreeing to remove “objectionable books” from the Wasilla Public Library. Dorothy Emmons, to her credit, and the credit of librarians everywhere, refused. Something about….which amendment was that?….oh, that’s right….the FIRST ONE.

Here’s what happened after Palin asked the librarian if she’d be “alright” with removing books that Palin found unacceptable.

According to news coverage at the time, the librarian said she would definitely not be all right with it. 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.

The question everyone wants to know is, “What books was she trying to ban?” Unfortunately, no concrete information exists on this…yet. Emmons has not been reached for comment, but may be able to shed some light, especially since she now lives in another part of the state and is no longer in Wasilla, where perceived “Sarah bashing” can be risky.

But until then, I present for your literary amusement, a random selection of “the most harmful books of the 19th and 20th century” as compiled by Newt Gingrich’s conservative online cabal known as “Human Events”. Presumably, knowing what we do about Palin’s ideology, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to assume any or all of these would be on the hit list. (No link provided to Human Events because, trust me, …you don’t want to go there)

Das Kapital, The Feminine Mystique, The Communist Manifesto, The Course of Positive Philosophy, Beyond Good and Evil, Mein Kampf, On Liberty, Introduction to Psychoanalysis, Silent Spring, Coming of Age in Samoa and….wait for it…The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. And I’ll go ahead and do some wild speculation that the name Harry Potter may come up. It wouldn’t surprise me.

Ironically, the first time I remember Sarah Palin being portrayed in the national media was in a piece on the Daily Show where she was salaciously compared to a “naughty librarian.” I’d like to claim my very own Lloyd Bentsen moment right now and say to Sarah Palin, “I know librarians. Librarians are friends of mine. Governor, you’re no librarian.”