For the most part, this blog isn’t intended as a political forum—its primary purpose has been, and will remain, the critical discussion of books, music, and movies. That said: it’s an election year, and I’m married to a public policy grad student, and I just plain feel compelled to comment on one particular tidbit of news that came to my attention this morning via Bookninja, Tame the Web, and Librarian.net. All have spotted something distressing about Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin buried in a recent Time magazine article about her. From the article (as highlighted at Librarian.net):
[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.
That’s right: Palin wanted to remove books from the shelves of the local library, and apparently because she didn’t like the fact that some books sometimes use bad words.
Any attempt to ban books or in any way limit people’s freedom to read what they choose runs directly counter to my values as a reader, writer, and librarian. And the idea of a book banner in power the White House sends a shiver down my spine. Supporters of book banning fail to understand some of the fundamental ideas underlying American democracy: they are opponents of free expression, and as such cannot be trusted with power. Also, in the article, Stein alleges that Palin wanted to see the librarian fired for refusing to ban books, which suggests that she might be intolerant of any kind of dissent when wielding executive power. And we all know how well the Bush administration’s secretiveness, resistance to outside ideas, and stubborn insistence on loyalty and consistency in the face of all evidence to the contrary has worked for the country the past seven years.
It’s also come to my attention that Palin is a supporter of “intelligent design” theory, and would like to see it taught in public schools. This is another deeply discouraging sign—it suggests to me that under a McCain/Palin administration, we couldn’t expect to see a reversal of Bush’s manipulation, suppression, abuse, and misuse of scientific information.