Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Another Practitioner of the Dark Arts Revealed!
To follow up on an earlier BH post or two, via MBR, Unbossed has great rundown on Sarah Palin and her attempt to ban books in the town library when she was mayor. She even threatened to fire the librarian, and then did, although luckily the librarian was reinstated due to public outcry.
Let's be clear – anyone who tries to ban books is either a dolt, a scoundrel, or both. Such a move reveals a person lacking both character and wisdom. If the same person threatens to fire a librarian, and then actually tries to do it, well, that's a special level of mendacity. Now granted, since I have librarians and archivists in my own immediate family, I'm biased toward Biblio-Americans, and literate Americans, but hear me out.
Many libraries have a selection committee. Besides any librarians, such committees normally consist of citizens who just love to read, and also may read reviews of books the library doesn't own yet. Being willing to show up for the meetings is often the only requirement. The librarians may have the final say, but typically they welcome polite input. Meanwhile, due to the culture wars, many libraries have a "challenge" system if someone feels a book is inappropriate for the library to have. However, in at least some counties, libraries also have a two-card system, one card for adults, one card for kids. Kids can't check out certain materials without parental approval. Many kids will be hitting the library with an adult anyway, but the card system is an additional safeguard for anxious parents.
In Palin's case, she wasn't even targeting the school library, she was targeting the town library. As in one and only, unless the news accounts have omitted something. Palin wasn't just trying to hide dangerous literature from the kids. She was denying it to adults. That is simply not her call, it's the work of a busybody, and it's deeply immoral. If you've lived in a town or city of 10,000 or fewer (I have), you know there's generally only one library. These days, libraries provide key internet access to folks who don't have it. They also provide, as always, access to books for those who can't afford them, and access to many more books than even a well-to-do bibliophile could purchase or store. A good library is a wonderful place and often a community center. Public libraries and parks are two of the best communal goods a government can offer. Saying so is hardly controversial.
Meanwhile, librarians on the whole are a pretty smart, helpful, patient bunch. Sure, every once in a while you'll run into a crank, or one will pull a switchblade on ya for not understanding the Dewey Decimal System, but generally speaking, they're a cool bunch. When a librarian opposes a book-banner, you're on safe ground assuming the librarian is in the right. (I'll add the librarians tend to know their civil liberties, and many opposed all those National Security Letters the FBI was issuing abusively.)
I'd still like to see a list of the books Palin was targeting. She apparently remained vague in public statements, but I'd be surprised if she didn't drop some names at some point to somebody. Yet given this incident, "troopergate" and her multiple public lies, we know this woman may make a pleasant neighbor, but she's an authoritarian with some extreme views who abuses power and then lies about it.
September 27–October 4 is Banned Book Week this year (posts for past years are here). This year, please celebrate by reading or re-reading a banned book, or sharing one with someone you know. And please also consider opposing Sarah Palin. Personally, someone without the judgment and temperament to sit on a library selection committee is not someone I want in any public office, let alone the vice presidency.
In any case, I've figured out who this hockey mom with the authoritarian heart and deceptive tongue really is. To borrow from a book challenged occasionally, one that kids and teenagers are excited to read, Sarah Palin is none other than... Dolores Umbridge. Continuing on my campaign poster kick, I've mocked some up in her honor (click the pictures for a larger view):
Since these are conservatives, going from right to left, we have Bill Kristol, John McCain, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis, Sarah Palin, Tucker Carlson, Jonah Goldberg, and a terrified, captive Stephanie Miller.
Meanwhile, here's the woman herself! Aaaah!!! So practice those counter-hexes against the dark arts, kids, read a banned book and Fight the Smears!
(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)