Censorship Watch

Article excerpt

Muffling The Tin Drum. An ongoing battle between the Metropolitan Library System in Oklahoma City and Oklahomans for Children and Families over MLS's age-neutral access policies (AL, June/July, p. 21) has widened to include six video-rental stores and their patrons.

On June 19 MLS Executive Director Lee Brawner refused to allow OCAF Executive Director Bob Anderson to air offensive excerpts of the Academy Award-winning film The Tin Drum at a library commission meeting. Six days later, Oklahoma County District Judge Richard Freeman deemed the film obscene for containing child pornography; by June 26 police had removed copies of the movie from store shelves and the homes of area residents who had rented it - including that of local ACLU staffer Michael Camfield.

Library spokesperson Julia Fresonke told American Libraries that the ACLU filed suit against the Oklahoma City Police Department July 3 for confiscating tapes without a search warrant or a written court ruling.

Named best foreign film of 1979, the film adaptation of the Gunter Grass novel tells the story of a German boy who stops growing physically at age three, when Hitler's reign begins, but who continues to mature intellectually.

MLS officials, who "respectfully disagree" with Freeman's decision, have announced they will comply, but, ironically, have been unable to sequester the library's only copy of the film. "OCAF checked out the video, copied excerpts they consider offensive, then later took the video and the copied excerpts to the police," Brawner said in a prepared statement July 3.

This latest incident erupted two months after MLS officials unveiled a computerized blocking option parents could use to bar their children from borrowing selected tides or entire genres. The feature was developed as a compromise to OCAF's demands that the library withdraw or relocate certain materials.

According to the June 27 Oklahoma City Times, Anderson has called for the dismissal of Brawner and the entire library commission. …