February 17, 2018

Libraries Shelve Fahrenheit 9/11 Screenings

By LJ Staff

Libraries in Ohio and New York have cancelled screenings of Michael Moore’s award-winning anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 after receiving numerous complaints, including a lawsuit. The Elyria Public Library, OH, shelved its screening of Fahrenheit 9/11 and a second documentary criticizing Moore’s film because it had not yet received showing rights, the AP reported. James Pengoy, a local citizen, however, had filed a suit trying to block the screening, saying he wanted "to stop the library from lending a platform specifically against President Bush." Pengoy’s motives are suspect: in August he tried to sell his vote on eBay, so the library contends his suit had no influence on its decision. The library will serve as a polling center November 2, and therefore is prohibited from engaging in any activity that could be construed as supporting a specific candidate. The library’s motive for screening the film was to save numerous patrons on a lengthy reserve list for the DVD release the long wait to see it.

On Long Island, the Peninsula Public Library in Lawrence also canceled a screening of the film after receiving several patron complaints. "The major objection was, it’s right before the election," library director Arleen Reo told the New York Times. Reo reportedly forwarded the concerns to the board, which decided it was inappropriate "to show that kind of controversial film without having adequate ability to present a balanced view at the same time," board president Joseph Fuller said, "We are a public institution and have to represent all parties or none." Reo insists the library has no political motivation, saying the film had been ordered six months earlier when it was a box office top draw. "It was popular in the movies. We thought the public would be interested. Clearly the timing was wrong," Reo said.