‘Rhetorical’ book banning

‘RHETORICAL’ BOOK BANNING…. Charlie Gibson asked Sarah Palin yesterday about reports that she sought to ban books from the Wasilla public library. Palin rejected this out of hand: “Never banned a book, never desired to ban a book…. It’s an old wives’ tale.”

There’s ample reason to believe this isn’t true at all. Indeed, while Palin was denying any interest in banning library books, her campaign aides conceded to the Associated Press that Palin approached Wasilla’s head librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, “on three occasions,” about how one might go about banning library books.

The recent defense has been that the question was “rhetorical.” The mayor asked a “rhetorical” question about book banning three times? Please.

The AP added some additional context to the story:

According to the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman newspaper, Emmons did not mince words when Palin asked her “how I would deal with her saying a book can’t be in the library” on Oct. 28, 1996, in a week when the mayor had asked department heads for letters of resignation.

“She asked me if I would object to censorship, and I replied ‘Yup’,” Emmons told a reporter. “And I told her it would not be just me. This was a constitutional question, and the American Civil Liberties Union would get involved, too.”

The Rev. Howard Bess, a liberal Christian preacher in the nearby town of Palmer, said the church Palin and her family attended until 2002, the Wasilla Assembly of God, was pushing to remove his book from local bookstores.

Emmons told him that year that several copies of “Pastor I Am Gay” had disappeared from the library shelves, Bess said. “Sarah brought pressure on the library about things she didn’t like,” Bess said. “To believe that my book was not targeted in this is a joke.”

So, what do we know at this point? Time reported last week that Palin asked Emmons about the process for banning library books. Emmons was reportedly “aghast” at the question. Soon after, Palin fired Emmons, and news reports from the time indicate that Palin thought Emmons hadn’t done enough to give her “full support” to the mayor. (Palin reversed course on Emmons’s dismissal after a local outcry.)

ABC News added a report this week, explaining that Palin took office thanks in large part to the strong backing of her church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, which, right around the time Palin took office, “began to focus on certain books” the church wanted to see removed from shelves.

And now we know Palin repeatedly broached the subject of banning books, and locals acknowledge that Palin, as mayor, “brought pressure on the library.”

The line from the McCain campaign has been that Palin never had any interest whatsoever in banning library books. Palin herself has described this as “an old wives’ tale.” That seems increasingly difficult to believe.

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