The library in Enfield, CT, seems to have a similar ideal. This is their mission statement on their website:
It is the mission of The Enfield Public Library to provide multiple resources to meet the educational, cultural, recreational, and technological needs of the community. Through excellent customer service, we offer equitable access to all and create a friendly and safe atmosphere of learning. We are proud to serve the greater Enfield community and look forward to an exciting future fulfilling the diverse needs of our Town.Nice, eh?
But it seems the library has run into a problem fulfilling that mission at the moment. You see, the library decided to show a film series--for adults, in the middle of the afternoons on Friday-- on "controversial" topics. The next movie scheduled was supposed to be Michael Moore's Sicko. Yes, supposed to be, as it is no longer in the line up. Why? Well, because someone complained about their tax dollars paying for "a Fidel Castro loving" filmmaker's movie being shown at the library and the mayor said "pull it or we pull your funding". Sadly, those really are only slight paraphrases:
ENFIELD — The Enfield Public Library on Wednesday canceled Friday’s screening of filmmaker Michael Moore’s controversial documentary “Sicko” under pressure from most Town Council members and the mayor, who threatened to cut the library’s funding if the film was shown.Yes. Yes that did say what you thought it just said.
In less than 24 hours, what started as a resident’s complaint during Tuesday’s council meeting about the library’s upcoming showing of the film has drawn the attention of state civil liberties and library groups that could lead to legal action against the town.
The screening of “Sicko,” Moore’s 2007 Academy Award-nominated documentary that critiqued the American health care system, was to have been part of the library’s new nonfiction film series.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, resident Kevin Fealy brought the upcoming screening to the council’s attention, urging it to pressure the library to cancel the movie, saying he didn’t want the town “to promote material such as this on my tax dollars.”
After several council members objected to the screening, Mayor Scott R. Kaupin, a Republican, asked Town Manager Matthew W. Coppler to talk to the library’s director, Henry Dutcher, about canceling the film.
“The sentiment by the majority is that it’s a poor choice and that they should definitely reconsider,” Kaupin said. “And if they don’t reconsider, then they’re going to have the repercussions of the council.
“I mean, in the end, when budget time comes and Mr. Dutcher is asking for funding” for the films, Kaupin said, “he’s going to have to answer for it.”
Dutcher said the Moore film was the second in an occasional series of nonfiction films chosen by his staff featuring subject matter ranging from health care to education and the environment. The first film, A PBS “Frontline” documentary about health care called “Sick Around the World,” was screened on Jan. 7.I...I don't even know what to say to this. Seriously?!
Upcoming films in the series include “An Inconvenient Truth,” former Vice President Al Gore’s film about climate change, and “Trouble the Waters,” a documentary about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Kaupin said the library should steer clear of controversial material like “Sicko.”
“I don’t even know why people make these decisions to go down those paths. It’s stupid. It’s like, it just blows my mind that people try to push the envelope with the public dime,” Kaupin said. “Do nice stuff. Do uncontroversial, or if you want to step in the mode of being controversial, make sure it’s fair on both sides and it becomes a discussion.”
“And it’s not a ‘fun flick,’” he said, referring to the name of the library’s film series. “A fun flick to me would be ‘Finding Nemo.’”
Alaimo [Dominic], who is also chairman of the Thompsonville Board of Fire Commissioners, said at Tuesday’s meeting that canceling the screening is not censorship because the film is “available anywhere you want.”See, when the council, the mayor, the city manager lean on the library director and the mayor says things like: "“And if they don’t reconsider, then they’re going to have the repercussions of the council. I mean, in the end, when budget time comes and Mr. Dutcher is asking for funding, he’s going to have to answer for it.”....that is censorship. It doesn't GET much clearer than that. Censorship isn't something that only happens in "Red China", it's something that happens in Enfield and you're supporting it, Mr. Alaimo.
“Censorship does not start from the bottom and work up. Censorship starts in like Red China, Russia,” Alaimo said. “Everywhere you go, they stop something right from coming into the country.
“This is not a place for kids to watch this kind of stuff when you have somebody who thinks Fidel Castro is a great guy, he thinks all these other people who are suppressive in other countries — this is what this guy is all about,” Alaimo said of Moore.