September 6, 2008

Just Say, "Shush!" to Censorship

As longtime readers know, Unexpectedly Bart! can be drawn into the political arena only with the greatest reluctance. Even so, when it came to our attention that an American vice-presidential candidate repeatedly showed interest in censoring books at her city's library, we had to look into it.

As reported by Rindi White of the Anchorage Daily News:
Back in 1996, when she first became mayor, Sarah Palin asked the city librarian [Mary Ellen Emmons] if she would be all right with censoring library books....

...the librarian said she would definitely not be all right with it. [All italics mine.] A few months later, [Emmons] got a letter from Palin telling her she was going to be fired….

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.

….[Emmons said] that Palin three times asked her — starting before she was sworn in [as mayor] — about possibly removing objectionable books from the library if the need arose…. When the matter came up for the second time…during a City Council meeting, Anne Kilkenny…was there.

"Sarah said to Mary Ellen, 'What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?" Kilkenny said.

"I was shocked. Mary Ellen sat up straight and said.. 'I would absolutely resist all efforts to ban books.'"
Shortly thereafter, Emmons received a letter asking for her resignation. After retracting the request, Sarah Palin told reporters the letter was just “a test of loyalty.” And the test would be given again.

Anne Kilkenny's now famous account of Sarah Palin's mayoral tenure has been vetted and posted at

As for me, I hope my defense of our nation’s libraries means that my local branch will waive the $1.25 in overdue charges I seem to have accrued. (Man, I just couldn’t finish Jonathan Livingston Seagull in two weeks!)
ADDENDUM (9/22/08): The New York Times recently reported that one of the library books Palin evinced an interest in was Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We had a macaw that was also a book censor. Actually it was our fault since we used old newspapers in the bottom of her cage. Now she feels she can do the same with all printed matter, books, magazines, etc.. And when you look at press censors, you cannot but surmise that they were beguiled into censoring by being toilet trained with newspapers. Think of Putin, of Russia: you know that child was forcefully trained and toilet sanitized with discarded Pravda's. And then comes incorrigible Adolf of Germany. Do you think that children of the Camp Kampf and low-paid curtain hangers just looked at old issues of Der Spiegel! The answer to most if not all cases of pernicious book censoring can be traced to censor's sanitation training and circumstances. Epidemiologist of re-known all agree that so many diseases like cholera, dictatorships, an censoring are unfortunately too close for comfort related to toilet training and improvised sanitation! And, dismissing the effect of vectors in disease, spread, physical and geographic proximity come next. And poor Mother Russia spreading from Germany to Siberia is too close to the USA, at the Alaskan Strait. Hence, the transmission of disease, specially, the contagion of press censorship plague is to real for those gelid frontiers. .