As a librarian, any mention of book banning catches my attention, and that was one of the tidbits mentioned as the press explored John McCain's new running mate. Reporters flocked to Alaska in the last week to visit Palin's home town of Wasilla. Time Magazine has posted an article on their website entitled: Mayor Palin: A Rough Record.
The article starts by quoting John McCain as saying, "I found someone with an outstanding reputation for standing up to special interests and entrenched bureaucracies,"... Does "entrenched bureaucracies" include the local library?
The article goes on to interview, Joe Stein, the town's former mayor who, in all fairness, was defeated by Palin for the position. Here's what Stein had to say:
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." That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor.
People have tried to ban books for "inappropriate language" for years now. In some cases, like The Catcher in the Rye, it's because of the use of profanities, esp. the "F" word. And then there's the politically correct crowd that wanted to ban Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for using the "N" word. And sometimes the objections come from the author "taking the Lord's name in vain". No matter the reason, it's still censorship and a violation of the First Amendment, or so we librarians tend to think.
So what books did Palin want to ban? There are lists making their way around the internet and via email, which may or may not be accurate. Both lists I saw (one sent to me by email, the other at librarian.net) start with A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle. Say what? This is a children's science fiction classic. I've read the book twice, once as a pre-teen and again a few years ago. I know there's no "inappropriate language" in that book. All I can figure is the book's world view isn't sufficiently Christian for the social conservative mindset.
A list of the books Palin supposedly wanted to ban:
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
Confession, by Jean Jacques Rousseau
Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller
Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood, by the Grimm Brothers
Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
Lysistrata, by Aristophanes
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
To Kill a Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey
The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Pigman, by Paul Zindel
Anything by Stephen King, everything by J.K. Rowling, just about everything by Roald Dahl, both of Mark Twain's major works, most of Judy Blume, most of William
Shakespeare, and (this is truly mind-boggling) Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff.
Some of these come as no surprise, but others have me scratching my head. Little Red Riding Hood??? Webster's Ninth? Can this be for real? And if it is, do we really want this woman as vice-president? I just hope they don't let her anywhere near the Library of Congress.