Saturday, September 06, 2008

Does Sarah Palin Believe in the First Amendment?

Does Sarah Palin believe in the First Amendment?

From The New York Times:

"Shortly after becoming mayor, former city officials and Wasilla residents said, Ms. Palin approached the town librarian about the possibility of banning some books, though she never followed through and it was unclear which books or passages were in question.

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.

In 1996, Ms. Palin suggested to the local paper, The Frontiersman, that the conversations about banning books were 'rhetorical.'"

(Full article at

And from The Boston Herald:

"Palin told the Daily News back then the letters were just a test of loyalty as she took on the mayor’s job, which she’d won from three-term mayor John Stein in a hard-fought election."


The reports surfacing online and in print media about Governor Sarah Palin’s actions while acting as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, 12 years ago led me to consider other, possibly pertinent revelations about the new Republican Party vice presidential candidate. For instance, she is a strong supporter of abstinence-only education and is opposed to comprehensive sex education in schools, despite numerous studies proving the ineffectiveness of the former compared with the latter. As Vice President of the U.S., would Ms. Palin work not only to continue to block funding for comprehensive sex education programs, as our current administration does, but also attempt to remove sex education literature from public schools and libraries?

We don’t know which books Ms. Palin had in mind when she asked Ms. Emmons to consider removing some from Wasilla’s library. We do know, however, that Ms. Palin doesn’t believe global warming is the result of human activity. Would she try to have books on global warming purged from our nation’s libraries?

In her speech on September 3rd at the Republican National Convention, Ms. Palin belittled Senator Obama’s work as a community organizer in South Chicago. Would she then, if she becomes our nation’s V.P., attempt to remove from all libraries any tomes that describe the historic movements that have changed our world—for the better, I think she’d agree—movements that owe their roots, their momentum, and much of their ultimate success to community organizing efforts? I’m talking about the labor movement, the gay rights movement, the environmental movement, the civil rights movement, and the one that allows Ms. Palin to be where she is today, the women’s movement, with suffrage at the top of its agenda.

Ms. Palin said she attempted to fire Ms. Emmons to test the librarian’s loyalty—to Ms. Palin, I presume. If Ms. Palin becomes our next presidential Vice President, I hope that in the realm of public libraries and their collections, she remembers where her own loyalties should lie: with our Constitution’s First Amendment, and with the policies and guidelines of the American Library Association.

—Deborah Davis