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09/15/2008

Palin and pro-gay books: A new chapter unfolds

by Jeremy Hooper

Last week, we presented some of the claims and allegations regarding Sarah Palin and her supposed "inquiries" about banning certain library books while mayor of Wasilla, AK. And in doing so, we caught some crap from folks who thought that by simply putting the information -- which, it should be noted, had merited a full exploration from ABC News -- out there, we were working too much from a place of rumor and conjecture rather than fact. This despite the fact that we explicitly acknowledged that the claims were unverified -- there were some who simply thought we were unfairly fueling speculation.

Well, critics and skeptics, get ready. Because when claims like the following merit the attention of a scrappy little outfit like The New York Times, we, as fans of both gays and literary freedom, have no choice but to present them to our peeps:

NY Times, 9/14/08
The new mayor also tended carefully to her evangelical base. She appointed a pastor to the town planning board. And she began to eye the library. For years, social conservatives had pressed the library director to remove books they considered immoral.

“People would bring books back censored,” recalled former Mayor John Stein, Ms. Palin’s predecessor. “Pages would get marked up or torn out.”

Witnesses and contemporary news accounts say Ms. Palin asked the librarian about removing books from the shelves. The McCain-Palin presidential campaign says Ms. Palin never advocated censorship.

WillhotiBut in 1995, Ms. Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues that she had noticed the book “Daddy’s Roommate” on the shelves and that it did not belong there, according to [Laura Chase, the campaign manager during Ms. Palin’s first run for mayor in 1996] and Mr. Stein. Ms. Chase read the book, which helps children understand homosexuality, and said it was inoffensive; she suggested that Ms. Palin read it.
“Sarah said she didn’t need to read that stuff,” Ms. Chase said. “It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn’t even read it.”

“I’m still proud of Sarah,” she added, “but she scares the bejeebers out of me.”


***

So there ya have it -- yet another claim involving yet another gay-themed book. You don't have to believe the chatter if you don't want. But please direct your focus towards shooting down the allegations rather than shooting down the messenger.

Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes [NY Times]
*SEE ALSO: Author Of Book Palin Targeted Lashes Back: She's My Mortal Enemy [HuffPo]

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Your thoughts

HERE this from an ALASKAN blogger just yesterday.

PS Note part about UK people terrified Palin could become VEEP.


Sometimes, the most important stories are told around a dining room table... (+)
by: CelticDiva
Mon Sep 15, 2008 at 07:18:07 AM CDT

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( - promoted by Julien Sharp)

I just spent the evening having dinner with Alaska's most influential bloggers: What Do I Know?, Progressive Alaska, Alaska Real, Mudflats and Immoral Minority, a former Anchorage radio talk show host, friends and a video team from the U.K.
Most importantly, I met a man I've revered for 14 years, retired Valley Baptist Pastor Howard Bess. Howard is the man who wrote the book, "Pastor, I Am Gay"...the book Sarah Palin specifically targeted to be removed from the Wasilla library.

(I respected him long before that. He supported those of us in 1993 fighting for an Anchorage Ordinance to add "sexual orientation" to the protected classes in Municipal employment. It's what made him and his book a target in the first place.)

I happened to meet the U.K. film crew at the women's rally and they took an interest in me as a blogger. When I was invited to this dinner, I askedk our host if they could come as well. He said yes.

I watched and participated tonight while this U.K. film crew got Howard's story on video. Since the journalist from Salon.com couldn't come and the reporter from "The Nation" had to leave (the folks who were the reason for the gathering) it would have been a missed opportunity to really get this story out had it not been my "chance" encounter with this quirky film crew.

There are no coincidences.

There was something really powerful about watching Howard speak in simple terms about the threats, intimidation and his eventual forced retirement and his church's excommunication from the American Baptists over his stances on LGBT issues and that book.

It's easy to forget how frightening truth in the form of the written word can be to the enemies of truth. It's also easy to forget that while our countrymen and women fought and died for over 200 years to protect our access to that truth, our friends in the U.K. did the same centuries before us.

Listening to the film crew, they are quite literally terrified by the thought of someone like Sarah Palin being in the White House only a heartbeat away from being the "Leader of the Free World." Sadly, the U.K. seems more terrified than most in the U.S.

I was glad that David Talbot of Salon.com (the other reporter who was supposed to come to the dinner) got his interview with Howard Bess and he did a great job. However, I think that the story will be much more powerful on film. This ordinary-looking plain-speaking man and his wonderful wife are heroes because they believe that God loves everyone equally and worshipping Him in ANY church is a right as children of God.

They show every Christian and any other religious person the true meaning of the words "Love Won Out."

Posted by: LOrion | Sep 15, 2008 11:08:08 AM

(A) Rumors and gossip often start somewhere. If this situation had been made up from whole cloth, there would be an issue. But getting to the bottom of an issue, to find the true details, to verify whatever happened, or to discover that it's entirely fabricated is important.

For how much people roasted Obama as an "unknown" they seem to be quite eager to be blissfully ignorant of Palin. She was governor and mayor, but the context of those positions matter.

(B)Friend of mine has a great blog about censorship, with a letter from an actual librarian in response to a "concerned" mother. http://misslettinggogetting.wordpress.com/2008/08/03/librarians-censorship-superheroes-battling-one-closed-minded-person-at-a-time/

Two good quotes from the letter:
" I think a lot of adults imagine that what defines a children’s book is the subject. But that’s not the case. Children’s books deal with anything and everything. There are children’s books about death (even suicide), adult alcoholism, family violence, and more. Even the most common fairy tales have their grim side: the father and stepmother of Hansel and Gretel, facing hunger and poverty, take the children into the woods, and abandon them to die! Little Red Riding Hood (in the original version, anyhow) was eaten by the wolf along with granny. "

"So what defines a children’s book is the treatment, not the topic."

Some people have it in their heads that homosexuality is an inappropriate topic at any age below 21, but that's not the case with any other topic I can think of. But these are the same people that think if you don't tell someone about homosexuality, they won't grow up to be gay, and if you don't tell kids about condoms they won't have sex.

Posted by: Jason D | Sep 15, 2008 11:16:25 AM

I'm sorry if you took offense at my comment but this was the line I found troubling. Again it is your blog and you can post what you like but somehow I think this bar is set a little to low regarding information received from outside sources. "We don't think it should be said, at this point, with 100% certainly that she DID try to have books banned. But on that same token -- it absolutely shouldn't be said with certainty that she DID NOT! "

Now if I exchanged words I could easily say, "We don't think it should be said, at this point, with 100% certainly that you DID try to have sex with children. But on that same token -- it absolutely shouldn't be said with certainty that you DID NOT HAVE SEX WITH CHILDREN!

When a defendant is asked to disprove a rumor the rumor should not be presumed true until the teller of the rumor has presented it. It's the foundation of our criminal justice system. That's why I found your statement saddening. I respect what you do, and I love reading your site and honestly I could never bear to dig through all the trash that many write about gays. So thank you for your service and I'm sorry if you were offended.

Posted by: Tim | Sep 15, 2008 1:32:54 PM

Tim: Your comparison is beyond insulting, as well as an unfair argument. Insulting, because the earlier post involved ACTUAL CLAIMS FROM PEOPLE FROM WASILLA, not outlandish character attacks about something like pedophilia! And the point I was making is that just as it would be unfair to say that the claims presented were 100% true, it would be unfair to deny these people of their recollections. So I find it insulting to the very heart of reason to say you find that "troubling."

And I say it's unfair, because if the exact same situation were playing out involving a potential veep who HAD been accused by various locals of having "inquired" about sex with children, then YES, those claims might also need to be looked into! There's a difference between fueling outlandish and unfair gossip without a shred of verifiable truth, and investigating potentially troubling bits of a potential leader's history!!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Sep 15, 2008 2:10:04 PM

Again it's your blog and I only commented because I thought there was a flaw in your logic. Like I said I really like your blog, however I think the burden of proof should be the same be it charges of pedophilism or censorship. Unless you can prove that everyone that read one version of the rumor reads the refutation than you haven't (in my mind) balanced the damage from what is essentially gossip.

As for the charge of banning on "Daddy's Roommate" The wikipedia article actually paints a different picture than previous rumors however the stories are still incongruous. The Librarian has stated that no books were banned, yet the NYT article says that books were marked up. Now would a mayor go in and mark up books or would that be someone that had checked out the book and than defaced it? They are implying that the Mayor(Palin) made the alterations but logically and from the statements made by the librarian that doesn't follow the facts of the story.
Again these are rumors, I've seen rumors destroy peoples lives and jobs, and I don't think they are necessary in this political campaign. There is no reason to demonize political opponents, there is no need to do anything besides judge their positions and their previous ability to accomplish goals. Sadly only Biden and McCain even have a history and both of their histories are fairly gay poor. Biden demonized HIV infected gays and gay families trying to get citizenship. McCain turned on gay marriage advocates, it's all messy.
But to me the bigger issues are gov't spending, and the looming issues of Medicare and social security. My gay concerns pale in the thought that if congress doesn't find a way to limit expenditures everything is going to come to a grinding stop. Than social issues get pushed to the side as people struggle just to get by.

Posted by: Tim | Sep 15, 2008 2:44:16 PM

BOOKS are far from the important lesson in this episode. The important point to me was that whatever she wanted the librarian to do, which the librarian was not ethically correct, PALIN then FIRED her for saying 'no.'... The librarian was only reinstated after a large town protest and then could only stand working under PALIN's...STALIN like governance for two years and was forced to leave a job she loved.

That is the PALIN to fear the STALIN-PALIN... I have not heard any American that espoused ideas closer to his in my entire life.

Posted by: LOrion | Sep 15, 2008 3:52:39 PM

I'll not criticize you for running this one. It doesn't hint at more than was there.

Unlike the previous rumor (which it now seems may have been inaccurate), this does appear to at least be specific. It is likely that Palin did have at least one gay-related book in mind when she asked her "hypothetical" question about removing books from the collection.

It would seem that had the librarian been supportive of the idea, at least one gay-supportive book would likely have been among those removed.

Posted by: Timothy | Sep 15, 2008 4:47:39 PM

"It doesn't hint at more than was there."

And neither did the previous post, Timothy.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Sep 15, 2008 5:10:21 PM

Oh Jeremy, don't you know that it's sexist to criticize Sarah Palin! She's a woman!

Posted by: Jason D | Sep 15, 2008 10:42:16 PM

I really do not understand the anger and annoyance that has been generated from this seemingly routine post by Jeremy on Governor Palin. It seems to me that if there is a New York Times article on this issue, as opposed to a less credible source such as the National Enquirer, it should be investigated. Governor Palin is the potential Vice President of the US and it would be greatly concerning to myself if she did indeed engage in some form of censorship in the past. Also, the fact that the NYT article apparently mentions a book with an LGBT theme does in my mind directly pertain to the concern and theme of this website. It is my conclusion that this information is indeed relevant and the owner of this site was correct in posting it. Furthermore, I find Tim's post on pedophilia to be offensive myself. The difference between the Palin issue and Tim's "sex with children" rumour is that the former is based on an article written by a credible news source while the later is a wild and base accusation. Also, court hearings are not initiated under evidence of mere hearsay or rumours-actual evidence or credible witnesses need to be present for a trial to even be considered. The first issue has witnesses in the people of Wasilla, while the other is an unfounded accusation (and really quite ridiculous). Therefore the two cannot be compared to each other because they are fundamentally incompatable.

I look forward to any further information about the Palin/censorship issue from this site. Please keep up the good work! :)

Posted by: Jacquelynn | Sep 16, 2008 3:57:38 AM

Given that no one else seems willing to, I will say that I absolutely agree, LOrion. Whatever the other details of this story, the fact remains that Palin fired the librarian unfairly, seemingly because of her disapproval of censorship.

Whether or not Palin HAD the books banned, TRIED to have the books banned or merely INQUIRED about having the books banned comes secondary to the fact that she, from all appearances, is in favour of censorship and actually drove out a librarian (TWICE!) because she didn't agree.

Posted by: WillB | Sep 17, 2008 12:30:07 AM

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