There’s quite a famous story for Christians, and that’s the one about Abraham and Isaac (technically Jewish, but whatever, and incidentally, the Muslims dig this tale, too, only they substitute Ishmael for Isaac). Basically the way the story goes is God tests Abraham’s loyalty by commanding him to sacrifice his son. Abraham, being the dutiful lackey, goes about grabbing his son and a good, sharp knife without giving the command a second thought. However, just as dutiful Abe was about to deliver the death cut, God sends an angel to say, “psyche!” and he didn’t have to go through with it. You see, it was just a test, a loyalty test. God of course isn’t supposed to be the coy type, so he didn’t ask hypothetically, “what would your response be if I asked you to remove some kids from your family?” or even rhetorically, “you wouldn’t object to killing your son for me, would you?”. No, God in the story commanded and like a loyal, faithful servant, Abe unquestionably set out to carry out the command.
Recently there’s been quite a buzz and snowballing rumors concerning Sarah Palin’s alleged attempt to ban books from the library during her time as a mayor. As the facts start trickling in, we can start to maybe separate fact from fiction. Here’s a quick run down of what seems to have happened:
1) Palin threw questions at the librarian 2 or 3 times which included ‘What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?’
2) Palin then requested the librarian’s resignation as a “loyalty test”
3) Palin rehired her the next day
4) 3 months later, fired her again claiming she didn’t feel she had her support
5) “city residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter.”
As Factcheck.org points out:
Palin did not attempt to ban any library books. We don’t know if Emmons’ resistance to Palin’s questions about possible censorship had anything to do with Emmons’ firing. And we have no idea if the protests had any impact on Palin at all. There simply isn’t any evidence that we can find either way.
So you can interpret the story as
• She posed hypothetical questions to the librarian, somehow concluded she wasn’t loyal, fired her, rehired her, once again thought she was not loyal, fired her, and then learned she was mistaken and rehired her
• She posed questions to test whether the librarian would go along with her plans such as banning books, determined she wasn’t loyal and wouldn’t do it from the responses and fired her, rehired her the next day along with others (why? I dunno, perhaps as a show of power, or pure whim?), waited until January to fire her again without citing specific reasons why, then had to backpedal because the town opposed with torches and pitchforks (dramatic license there, sorry)
So perhaps Palin really isn’t interested in banning books, but rather is simply interested in loyalty, blind and unquestioning loyalty from people under her to carry out her bidding, regardless of what it might be. Asking a librarian if she’d agree to banning a book would be like asking, uh, a father to kill his son. It’s outrageous, but hey, what a loyalty test, huh? In the Genesis story, Abe is let off the hook and then kills a goat instead. Perhaps had the librarian answered correctly and passed Palin’s loyalty test, the librarian then could have killed a moose instead of Tom Sawyer.