Programming and Censorship
Angela Hanshaw | January 25, 2011
This will be a short blog post, but one that I’m hoping will spark a lot of discussion in the comments. Some of you may have read about the controversy with Library and Archives Canada and their scheduled, then canceled, then rescheduled screening of Iranium, a film that “exposes Iran’s efforts to build nuclear weapons and promote terrorism.” In a nutshell, the Iranian embassy protested the screening, and the library received suspicious mail as well as phoned threats of violence. The library decided to remove the film from the programming schedule.
This didn’t sit well with heritage minister James Moore, however, who responded, “This is one of those moments where we need to stand up and be very clear that we believe in free speech.” He also added, “We’re not going to tolerate people who threaten violence and those who want to censure other people for showing a movie…” As a result, the library will be re-adding the film to its schedule, likely sometime in February, and taking whatever security precautions are required for the screening.
In an ideal world, a library would never let censorship affect its programming, but what about situations where going forward with an event could result in harm to staff, patrons, or property? How does your library deal with community members who oppose the library’s choices? What is your personal opinion on the topic? Please share you thoughts.
Angela Hanshaw is Program Officer/Web Editor for the ALA Public Programs Office.