More on Sarah Palin and Book-Banning

by matttbastard

The Nation has just published a very informative investigative piece by Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, further exploring the connections between Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin and the Christian right.  The entire article is worth reading, but I wanted to highlight the following passage, which sheds more light on a now-infamous alleged incident from 1997 involving Palin and the Wasilla Public Library:

Much has been made of Palin’s gestures toward book-banning as mayor. To understand what happened, it’s useful to realize that the Mat-Su Valley was in the middle of a roiling controversy over a book by [Howard Bess, a local retired liberal Baptist minister], titled Pastor, I Am Gay. Bess, 80, is deeply respected by the Valley’s small progressive community. Educated at Northwestern’s Garrett Biblical Institute — now called the Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary — he comes from a Baptist tradition committed to church-state separation. In 1980 he left his church in Santa Barbara, California, to become pastor of Anchorage First American Baptist. Over the years Bess developed an intense concern about gay rights, and he went out of his way to welcome gay people into his Anchorage church. After he had served seven years at First Baptist, the board of the church asked him to lower his profile on the issue. Unwilling to do so, he resigned, took early retirement and ended up moving to Palmer to pastor a tiny liberal congregation, the Church of the Covenant, which he did without pay.
Bess published Pastor, I Am Gay in 1995. It recounts his experiences ministering to gay men and lesbians, calls for the church to take a stand against discrimination and even draws parallels between the experience of gay people and that of Jesus. “They are despised and rejected,” he wrote. “They suffer and are acquainted with infirmity. They are rejected by a perversion of justice. Is it possible that the will of the Lord will prosper through them?”

Local conservatives, including at Wasilla Assembly of God, mobilized against the book. Christian bookstores as well as secular retailers refused to sell it. Bess donated two copies to the Wasilla Public Library, but they vanished from the shelves, so he donated more. The atmosphere toward Bess was toxic; a 1997 cartoon in the Frontiersman showed a slobbering, doll-clutching pedophile approaching his church, whose sign said, Wasilla Church of the Covenant. Howard Bess, Pastor. All Sinners Welcome! Bible Interpretations to Suit Your “Lifestyle.”
Most reports have said that, when asking about banning books, Palin never mentioned any specific titles, but the presence of Pastor, I Am Gay in the library was, at the time, a matter of fierce contention. “I’m as sure that that book was at issue with Sarah Palin as I am that I’m talking to you right now,” said Bess.

Providential coincidence, or small-town cheap homophobic conspiracy?  Stay tuned, true believers.

Related: Fareed Zakaria dons his Captain Obvious pajamas, declaring Palin to be “utterly unqualified to be vice president”; has the bar on Palin been set so low that it’s entirely possible for her to ‘win’ Thursday’s VP debate?

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John King Needs A Time Out

by matttbastard 

Hmm, methinks Greenwald struck a delicate, precious nerve with CNN tongue bather  Chief Political Correspondent John King  after GG took King to the woodshed the other day over a recent Situation Room rim job King gave to perpetual media darling John McCain (as is apparently King’s wont):

From: King, John C

To: GGreenwald@salon.com

Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 5:40 PM

Subject: excuse me?

I don’t read biased uninformed drivel so I’m a little late to the game.

But a friend who understands how my business works and knows a little something about my 20 plus years in it sent me the link to your ramblings.

Since the site suggests you have law training, maybe you forgot that good lawyers to a little research before they spit out words.

Did you think to ask me or anyone who works with me whether that was the entire interview? No. (It was not; just a portion used by one of the many CNN programs.)

Did you reach out to ask the purpose of that specific interview? No.

Or how it might have fit in with other questions being asked of other candidates that day? No.

Or anything that might have put facts or context or fairness into your critique. No.

McCain, for better or worse, is a very accessible candidate. If you did a little research (there he goes with that word again) you would find I have had my share of contentious moments with him over the years.

But because of that accessibility, you don’t have to go into every interview asking him about the time he cheated on his sixth grade math test.

The interview was mainly to get a couple of questions to him on his thoughts on the role of government when the economy is teetering on the edge of recession, in conjunction with similar questions being put to several of the other candidates.

The portion you cited was aired by one of our programs — so by all means it is fair game for whatever “analysis” you care to apply to it using your right of free speech and your lack of any journalistic standards or fact checking or just plain basic curiosity.

You clearly know very little about journalism. But credibility matters. It is what allows you to cover six presidential campaigns and be viewed as fair and respectful, while perhaps a little cranky, but Democrats and Republicans alike. When I am writing something that calls someone’s credibility into question, I pick up the phone and give them a chance to give their side, or perspective.

That way, even on days that I don’t consider my best, or anywhere close, I can look myself in the mirror and know I tried to be fair and didn’t call into question someone’s credibility just for sport, or because I like seeing my name on a website or my face on TV.

Greenwald’s post wasn’t evidence of unprofessional “bias”; he was merely utilizing one of the senses evolution gave us hairless apes–in this case, a keen nose that caught a whiff of what King was so eagerly shoveling.

As Greenwald tartly observes:

Ponder how much better things would be if establishment journalists — in response to being endlessly lied to and manipulated by political officials and upon witnessing extreme lawbreaking and corruption at the highest levels of our government — were able to muster just a tiny fraction of the high dudgeon, petulant offense, and melodramatic outrage that comes pouring forth whenever their “reporting” is criticized.

Hey, here’s another novel idea, John–how about directing some of your self-important umbrage towards your CNN producers–y’know, the ones who (apparently) bowdlerized your hard-hitting muckracking until it was nothing but anodyne pablum.  Either that, or cut the crap and become The Maverick’s new communications director. But for the love of god, don’t get your dander up in an entitlement-infused huff just because a member of the great online unwashed dared to call bullshit.  

More from Blue Texan and Big Tent Democrat.

Via Memeorandum

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