Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sarah Palin Censorship and Abuse of Power

I ran across two news stories that shocked me regarding Sarah Palin, and wanted to get them out there. It doesn't seem as though they are in the mainstream yet, but I think they are important issues.

Sarah Palin shortly after winning election as the mayor of her small town in Alaska approached the Librarian Mary Ellen Emmons and asked how they could go about banning some books from because they were morally objectionable. Emmons was "aghast" at the idea and said she would resist all efforts at censorship. Ms. Palin then fired Emmons shortly after winning office.

Sarah Palin is also under investigation for abuse of power during her short time as governor. Apparently Palin's brother-in-law threatened Palin's father. Palin then told the state public safety director to fire her brother-in-law. When the director did not obey Palin, she fired the public safety director. She has now hired a private lawyer and will be supbeaoned to court sometime in the near future.


Hymnology Books said...

as a librarian I'm curious about where your information about Sarah firing that librarian? I'd like to look into that further. THanks!

Hymnology Books said...

Josh...just being a fact checker here...the name you have for her is Mary Ellen Emmons and in the PNLA quaterly she is named as Mary Ellen Baker and she resigned from her post on August 31, 1999. According to this link for their newsletter. I've always been interested in presidential election politics and appreciate the blogging world and their contribution!
Hope the windy city is treating you and Rach well! Austina

p.s. not sure why my last comment wanted to call me hymnology books. strange. must have been something I was looking for in google books for work.

Joshua said...

Austina, thanks for the note. I read a bit more on it just now and apparently after Sarah fired Ms. Emmons, the town reacted and Palin reinstated her. It's sort of confusing from the NY Times article. Shortly after Emmons was brought back as the Librarian, she resigned.

I'm not sure about the discrepancy between the last names.

Here's the text as it appears in the NY Times article:

"Ann 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."

And the article's URL:

If you find out anything further I'd be interested to know how she seems to have been both fired, and voluntarily resigned.

Rich Kirkpatrick said...

There are two or more sides to this I am sure. Let's not be so gullible either way with this stuff without better proof. What is the complete truth? Not seeing it here yet on this story from a paper that has printed stuff made completely up. At least the librarian is sharing her name, so her words carry some weight. The other sources seem thin from "former officials". NYT is grasping here at nothing. It seems to me that abuse of power is not a worthy conclusion here regardless. Nothing happened here of note!

Joshua said...

I agree that there are two sides to the story. But I don't think you can conclude that because there are two sides to the story, everything in the article is fabricated and we can just dismiss it.

Two sides yes, but a complete fabrication? Let's not be so hasty.

RyAn said...

"I ran across two news stories that shocked me regarding Sarah Palin, and wanted to get them out there. It doesn't seem as though they are in the mainstream yet, but I think they are important issues."

That is a scary sentence. If you get your soucres from the NYT, there is your first mistake.

Just so you know the truth. I'd hate for you to believe in the garbage our liberal media tries to sell.

"One accusation claims then-Mayor Palin threatened to fire Wasilla’s librarian for refusing to ban books from the town library. Some versions of the rumor come complete with a list of the books that Palin allegedly attempted to ban. Actually, Palin never asked that books be banned; no books were actually banned; and many of the books on the list that Palin supposedly wanted to censor weren't even in print at the time, proving that the list is a fabrication. The librarian was fired, but was told only that Palin felt she didn’t support her. She was re-hired the next day. The librarian never claimed that Palin threatened outright to fire her for refusing to ban books.

It’s true that Palin did raise the issue with Mary Ellen Emmons, Wasilla’s librarian, on at least two occasions, three in some versions. Emmons flatly stated her opposition each time. But, as the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman (Wasilla’s local paper) reported at the time, Palin asked general questions about what Emmons would say if Palin requested that a book be banned. According to Emmons, Palin "was asking me how I would deal with her saying a book can't be in the library." Emmons reported that Palin pressed the issue, asking whether Emmons' position would change if residents were picketing the library. Wasilla resident Anne Kilkenny, who was at the meeting, corroborates Emmons' story, telling the Chicago Tribune that "Sarah said to Mary Ellen, 'What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?' "

Palin characterized the exchange differently, initially volunteering the episode as an example of discussions with city employees about following her administration's agenda. Palin described her questions to Emmons as “rhetorical,” noting that her questions "were asked in the context of professionalism regarding the library policy that is in place in our city." Actually, true rhetorical questions have implied answers (e.g., “Who do you think you are?”), so Palin probably meant to describe her questions as hypothetical or theoretical. We can't read minds, so it is impossible for us to know whether or not Palin may actually have wanted to ban books from the library or whether she simply wanted to know how her new employees would respond to an instruction from their boss. It is worth noting that, in an update, the Frontiersman points out that no book was ever banned from the library’s shelves.

Palin initially requested Emmons’ resignation, along with those of Wasilla’s other department heads, in October 1996. Palin described the requests as a loyalty test and allowed all of them (except one, whose department she was eliminating) to retain their positions. But in January 1997, Palin fired Emmons, along with the police chief. According to the Chicago Tribune, Palin did not list censorship as a reason for Emmons’ firing, but said she didn’t feel she had Emmons’ support. The decision caused “a stir” in the small town, according to a newspaper account at the time. According to a widely circulated e-mail from Kilkenny, “city residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter.”

As we’ve noted, Palin did not attempt to ban any library books. We don’t know if Emmons’ resistance to Palin’s questions about possible censorship had anything to do with Emmons’ firing. And we have no idea if the protests had any impact on Palin at all. There simply isn’t any evidence that we can find either way. Palin did re-hire Emmons the following day, saying that she now felt she had the librarian’s backing. Emmons continued to serve as librarian until August 1999, when the Chicago Tribune reports that she resigned.

So what about that list of books targeted for banning, which according to one widely e-mailed version was taken “from the official minutes of the Wasilla Library Board”? If it was, the library board should take up fortune telling. The list includes the first four Harry Potter books, none of which had been published at the time of the Palin-Emmons conversations. The first wasn't published until 1998. In fact, the list is a simple cut-and-paste job, snatched (complete with typos and the occasional incorrect title) from the Florida Institute of Technology library Web page, which presents the list as “Books banned at one time or another in the United States.”

Also, the abuse of power claim you make is against a guy named Walt Monegan. He was fired because he used a Taser on his 10-year-old stepson and was caught drinking in his patrol car.

And like usual, you don't have to respond...