« Go back a post || Return to G-A-Y homepage || Haul tail to next post »


Did pro-gay tome earn Palin's ire?

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 5-151While old claims are being shot down, new claims are emerging about the books Sarah Palin allegedly inquired about having banned while serving as mayor of Wasilla, AK. And amongst these new revelations is a claim from a former reporter for Wasilla's Frontiersman newspaper, Paul Stuart, who says that one of the books was a pro-queer title called Pastor, I am Gay. This from PolitiFact:

Stuart told PolitiFact that in a conversation with Emmons after his article ran, she listed three titles. He said he could recall only two, and initially said they were I Told My Parents I’m Gay and I Asked My Sister. We looked for these titles; they don’t appear to exist.

Then-library director Mary Ellen Emmons] told me that Palin asked her directly to remove these books from the shelves,” Stuart said. “She refused.”

Asked later if the first book could have been
Pastor, I am Gay, a controversial book written by a pastor who lives just outside Wasilla, Stuart said that was it.

But that's not all. PolitiFact also has quips from the author of the book, Howard Bess, who gives insight into the sort of climate he claims his book faced in Wasilla at the time:

Howard Bess, author of Pastor, I am Gay and former pastor of Church of the Covenant in nearby Palmer, recalls that his book challenging Christians to re-examine their ideas about and prejudices against gays and lesbians was not well received in Wasilla when it was published in 1995 — the year before Palin was elected mayor.

Virtually every book store in Wasilla refused to sell it.

Bess said he gave two copies to the Wasilla Library, but they quickly disappeared. So he donated more copies.

The controversy over the book was part of the context of that time period, he said. “Knowing Sarah’s religious connections and the people involved, I would be surprised if my book was not one of those at issue,” Bess said. “But I don’t know that for a fact.”

“I don’t think anyone has the facts except Mary Ellen, and she ain’t talking,” Bess said.

And there's still more, this time from ABCNews.com:

Palin's church at the time, the Assembly of God, had been pushing for the removal a book called "Pastor I Am Gay" from local bookstores, according to the book's author Pastor Howard Bess, of the Church of the Covenant in nearby Palmer, Alaska.

"And she was one of them," said Bess, "this whole thing of controlling information, censorship, that's part of the scene," said Bess.

Oh, and then there's this piece from this morning's "Good Morning America":

So that's what we know right now. Lots of intimation, little hard fact. And honestly, we're not even entirely sure which way we'd want this one to play out, since Palin's desire to ban a book challenging Christianity from a pro-gay standpoint might actually cause her to go up in the public's estimation! Sad but true.

Did Sarah Palin Try to Ban Library Books? [ABC News]
Story of banned books is murky [PolitiFact]
(H/t: Queerty)

**NOTE: We've seen some people, including the writers of FactCheck.org , declare with certainty that Palin could not have tried to have books banned because "some of the books on a widely circulated list were not even in print at the time." That is a patently unfair oversimplification. Because while the list was admittedly a false internet rumor (with some of the books on it not even in print at the time she was in office), the claims of all of these other people cannot be denied or tossed aside.

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!

**UPDATE, 9/12: In the new interview with Charlie Gibson, Palin officially denies ever trying or even asking to have books banned. We'll try to get video from that ASAP. But one thing we do want to go ahead and stress once again is that NOBODY believes the widely circulated list of supposedly Palin-banned books has even an ounce of truth. It's been a debunked Internet rumor for some time now.

We say this because in the Gibson interview, Palin uses the Net-disseminated list and the fact that Harry Potter, one of the books on it, wasn't even published yet in order to distance herself from any fishy booky situations. But the point remains that even if she didn't inquire about banning books, as those quoted in the above post have implied. it still won't be the fallibility of this list that serves as proof. The list is a silly distraction.

Again, we'll try to have video for you soon.

**UPDATE, 9/15: Here's the video. Book banning part beings at 7:10 mark:

**UPDATE, 9/15: Palin and pro-gay books: A new chapter unfolds [G-A-Y]

space gay-comment gay-G-A-Y-post gay-email gay-writer-jeremy-hooper

Your thoughts

"The claims of all these other people".

"But it absolutely shouldn't be said with certainty that she DID NOT!"

C'mon Jeremy. You have to admit that that sounds an awful lot like the sort of proof that The Peter uses.

So far we have Palin saying that no books were banned and the librarian saying that no books were banned and the original news story saying no books were banned.

And we still think that some books were banned???

Did Palin want some specific book removed? I don't know. But we do know that whatever it was, it wasn't removed - that, at least, is what everyone who was actually in position to know is saying. The rest is rather sad.

Oppose Sarah Palin for her politics. Oppose her public record. Surely that is good enough reason.

What I hate about politics is that folks who sincerly try to be honest and truthful get caught up in conjecture and rumor and speculation and inuendo. I hate it when the phobes do it and I hate it when gays do it.

Posted by: Timothy | Sep 10, 2008 8:30:13 PM

Your comparison is completely unfair, Timothy, and I take genuine offense to it. I am not getting "caught up in conjecture and rumor and speculation and innuendo" -- I am conveying INFORMATION THAT HAS COME FORTH (while even pointedly acknowledging that it is "Lots of intimation, little hard fact")!

I am not saying with any certainty that she had any books banned. In fact, it's pretty clear that is she tried to ban books, she was not successful in doing so. But several people -- including the librarian, who you try and make it sound as if she completely cleared Palin's name -- have indicated that Palin "inquired" about the possibility of censorship. And now we have claims from other locals, including a reporter who claims familiarity with the situation, who raise the possibility that one certain gay book was among those that might've earned her ire. And these new claims have merited attention from the likes of ABC News.

If you want to just ignore these claims and give Palin a pass, then feel free. I, however, think it's worth it to put all the information out there and let folks decide for themselves!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Sep 10, 2008 10:21:46 PM

What scares me on this is that she even inquired about banning books. This is not the kind of person I want a heartbeat away from being the president. I agree that not all stories about Palin are relevant, but this one is. Banning books scares me as a college student. There are other ways of limiting exposure to books that are not good for kids to read, banning them is not the right way in my opinion. I haven't yet seen a good argument for banning any book.

P.S. I read "Go ask Alice" when I was in 7th grade, it is a graphic book, but really gets the point of the dangers of drug use out there, it scared me silly at that age, not the reason I don't do drugs, but some of the story stays with me even today.

Posted by: Piper | Sep 11, 2008 12:02:54 AM

No, everyone...come on! The WORST about this is that she did indeed FIRE THE LIBRARIAN.
Then was forced by the town to hire her back, and then made her life so miserable that she had to quit after two years under Palin (read Stalin's) rule! Imagine how many LIbrary of Congress Librarians she will fire once she is in WASH.

Haven't you read FARENHEIT 451?? It's coming NOW. At least we have the Internet now and are not tied to the dead tree books that are consumed by fire at 451' F.

Posted by: LOrion | Sep 11, 2008 10:35:44 AM


I respect you and what you do. But I think you are straying from what can be supported by fact on this story.

"In fact, it's pretty clear that is she tried to ban books" seems to be contradictory to what both the librarian and the reporter have said. She may well have WANTED to ban books, but an inquiry is not the same as trying.

Please don't think I'm trying to defend Palin. I'm not. But I don't want us to stray too far up the path of assumption and speculation.

I think Piper's comment, "What scares me on this is that she even inquired about banning books", is a fair one.

Posted by: Timothy | Sep 11, 2008 3:01:59 PM

Timothy: You truncated the line. The line reads, in full: "In fact, it's pretty clear that is she tried to ban books, she was not successful in doing so." (The "is" is a typo, which is meant to be "IF")

So I'm actually agreeing with you that is she did try or inquired about banning books, she did not successfully do so. That is not contradictory to what the reporter or librarian has said -- it is EXACTLY what they have said.

And I also fail to see the difference between Piper's comment, which you call fair, and my post, which you compared to the work of Peter LaBarbera (something that still doesn't sit well with me!). We both are simply expressing fear over the possibility that our potential number two tried to ban books!!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Sep 11, 2008 3:12:35 PM

The correction to the typo changes my objection.

We all can agree that she MIGHT have wanted to ban some specific books. We can agree that she discussed with the librarian (either theoretically or specifically) about her response to a request to remove books. And we can agree that no attempts to actually ban books occured.

We agree that the list that was circulating was bogus.

We can agree that there is a possible additional list of three books based on a 12 year old recollection about a conversation between a reporter and the librarian regarding Palin's discussion with the librarian. We agree that the recollection was inaccurate if it was actually based on a real occurance.

As to whether Palin actually spoke to the librarian about removing Pastor, I am Gay from the library... I'll not assume that this story is true until further evidence is presented. It would be helpful if the librarian was more forthcoming.

Posted by: Timothy | Sep 11, 2008 4:24:28 PM

So are we at the point where politicians and people in the public eye have to disprove rumors when there is no evidence simply because lot's of people said it was true? Surely as the head of a website like this you would be more critical of the information being presented as fact to you.

Personally after reading the Factcheck.org article I'm convinced that she did not try to have books banned and the rumors are false. Inquiring what a librarian would do if someone tried to ban a book is incredibly different than trying to ban books herself.

Posted by: Tim | Sep 12, 2008 4:26:47 PM

Here is what the article said and this seems completely reasonable.

"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?' "

Posted by: Tim | Sep 12, 2008 4:30:56 PM

"Inquiring what a librarian would do if someone tried to ban a book is incredibly different than trying to ban books herself."

Tim (not the same person as Timothy): Which is exactly why our post says that she "allegedly inquired about having banned." For the one billion and sixteenth time, all we have done is present the information that has been put out there (with the caveat that is it "Lots of intimation, little hard fact.") The point of this post is to put out what has been said and let the reader decide for themselves. If you have decided she did nothing wrong, then that's perfectly fair. But it is completely unfair to say of us, "Surely as the head of a website like this you would be more critical of the information being presented as fact to you" when we have gone out of our way to say it's not proven fact!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Sep 12, 2008 4:50:06 PM

comments powered by Disqus

G-A-Y Comments Policy

Related Posts with Thumbnails