Monday, September 15, 2008

Wasilla Public Library

As a librarian's husband, a libertarian-leaning conservative, and opinionated about many things, I could be expected to weigh in on the Sarah Palin controversy. I browsed around and read up on the subject, including reading the blogs of (mostly) outraged librarians, the ACLU and ALA sites, and two law & religion sites. Then I thought about it all today. Late in the day, I followed an Insty link to The Volokh Conspiracy, a multiple lawprof blog from a libertarian perspective. I should have started there first and saved all the browsing and thinking. There are three posts today that tell you much more than I ever could:
1. What has the Supreme Court said about when government libraries may remove books?
2. "Bookbanning"
3. Did Palin try to ban books from the local library?

In brief, despite the assertions of the ALA and the ACLU to the contrary, removing books is not automatically unconstitutional. If you read carefully, you will see that the ACLU site does not explicit claim it is. They throw the words "constitutional rights" around pretty freely in places where it is debatable, however, and strive to give the impression that it is too unconstitutional.

Please understand that these organizations are not wrong in what they tell you, but they only give you one side. They are advocates, and their interest is in converting you to their POV, not offering a balanced discussion of the issues. The same may be said for Safe Libraries, an organization which advocates the opposite position.

For those who think they have finally read up on all the facts on this case, Cecil Turner over at American Thinker has new data in his essay Media Cooking The Books on Palin. Quick summary. There were several incidents about the library and the town government in that era, some involving Palin and some not, and everyone involved seems to have mixed them together, all in slightly different ways. Those who read the contemporaneous Anchorage newspaper story of the time should know that that source came closest, but still didn't get it all.

I do have some perspective to add which I have not seen elsewhere, but will save it for an upcoming post. Thought provoker - I considered how a town library is similar and different from other town entities - playgrounds, the dump, police, schools.


Anonymous said...

I find the whole kerfuffle somewhat ironic since it is always the Left that is trying to ban books. For example, how many public school systems have banned Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn? And I won't even start on banning things like the 10 Commandments.

OBloodyHell said...

> I find the whole kerfuffle somewhat ironic since it is always the Left that is trying to ban books.

Hey, both sides do it and both sides need to be shouted down for the practice, in general (I find reasonable the idea that some things might not be placed so as to be in easy reach of youth, however -- as long as they are available to the general public, preferably with extra attention called to them to encourage the public to know what it is which is being "reserved" and held in a generally more-difficult-to-view situation. This encourages citizen oversignt of the process.

I think libraries should have Lady Chatterly's Lover. I can also see how it might not be placed where children can easily gain access to it (esp. the Illustrated Edition... LOL). But the area in which such is kept should be highly visible, easily accessible to non-children, and, in fact, the public should consider it their duty to be aware of what is in it.