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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin's attempt to ban books

TIME magazine is running an article on Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, describing how she tried to fire librarian Mary Ellen Baker for not removing a list of "questionable books" from the shelves of the Wasilla library.

Apparently, Palin went to the library and made inquiries about the procedure for banning certain books, claiming that some voters thought they had "inappropriate language" in them.

"The librarian was aghast," claims the article. The librarian, 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.

A contributor to (scan the comments following the announcement of the TIME story) names the books Palin tried to ban from the library. The list includes:

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

GalleyCat@ slyly comments, "Maybe if she didn't want to ban Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective her daughter Bristol wouldn't be having a shotgun wedding." Yes, that book is one of those she wanted to ban.

Mary Ellen Baker resigned from her library director's job in 1999.


Anonymous said...


I follow the progress of each of your books and your blog with great interest.

Thank you for reminding us, via the listing of great literary works, how lucky we are in the "free" world to have access to such excellent, timeless literature.

And good luck to Ms Palin in her attempt to wrest this freedom from our hands!

Neva Sullaway, USA

P. Drāno said...

That's the maddest thing I ever heard.

Filipe Castro said...

C'mon! Do you want our children to to be exposed to the 'Little Red Riding Hood' from the dangerous Grimm brothers?

World of the Written Word said...

Since posting this item, it has come to light that the list is taken from an excellent site produced by Adler & Robin Books, It includes a constantly updated list of books banned (often temporarily, thank God) throughout the United States. Obviously, it is not connected with Sarah Palin. However, from later reports it seems that she definitely explored the idea of censoring the holdings of the local library during her tenure as mayor of Wasilla, and was foiled by the local populace.

World of the Written Word said...

And many thanks for your kind comments, Neva! As for being corrupted by Little Red Riding Hood ... As we have found out since, Ms. Palin had nothing to do with the long list of challenged books, but I can't imagine why anyone would want to ban Grimm. (Unless it has something to do with wolves.)