San Diego Library Won't Show Farenheit 911 Before Election


San Diego (CA) Library Director Anna Tatar has decided at the last moment to postpone a scheduled screening of Michael Moore's Farenheit 911 due to (some) patrons dissatisfaction. She's decided that the political atmostphere is just too intense right now (before the election), and has confirmed that her decision to postpone was due to "bad timing."

Both Farenheit 911 and FarenHYPE 911 will be shown the weekend following the election. Story from Sign On San Diego .


This strikes me as a "we'd rather be safe than sorry" decision...I'd be interested in others opinions.

I disagree. This is both a "smart" and "fair" decision. A screening is much different than simply having Moore's flick available for circulation.

We are talking about a different dynamic here, with the action being taken for the patron by the library. I think many would also agree that a screening carries an implicit endorsement. Normally this would be fine however the choice of F911 pre-election, without a "conservative" rebuttal clearly shifts the role of SDPL from repository to advocate. I'd be saying the same thing if we were talking about the FahrenHYPE movie.

Here's the biggie. Public libraries, MUST remain apolitical for their collective survival. Historically they remained as such although ALA has begun to push many into taxpayer purgatory.

But according to the original story, there WAS a conservative rebuttal - Fahrenheit and FahrenHYPE were going to be shown back to back... so I'm with birdie. This library's just caving to a few patrons to avoid trouble.

I think Tomeboy's argument is perceptive, especially with mention of the difference between screening a film and making it available for loan.

However, given that they were intending to show FarenHYPE as well, it seems to me that they were providing adequate rebuttal.

I'd also argue that apolitical doesn't have to imply non-political - libraries should be striving to provide access to material that covers a wide range of views, but they shouldn't be avoiding political topics completely, out of fear of offending people.

The San Diego Public Library canceled a free public showing of the film "Fahrenheit 9/11" two days before the election after numerous complaints about fairness.

The controversial Michael Moore documentary was scheduled to be shown at the downtown library yesterday afternoon, but library director Anna Tatar postponed the event for what she called bad timing.

April, my understanding was F911 was scheduled for screening without the FahrenHYPE rebuttal. Only subsequent to complaints did the director reschedule F911 with FahrenHYPE after the election.

As I mentioned with April, I don't think FahrenHYPE was originally scheduled for screening with F911.

I do agree with you re libraries and access to divergent political material. That's our role as repositories. It's only when libraries become proactive in presenting material, specifically of a political nature, does the question of partisanship become relevant.

Kind of. From what I read, originally Fahrenheit only was scheduled before the election. Within a few days due to complaint, BOTH were scheduled for back to back viewings before the election. After continued controversy, both were pushed back. So they were briefly planning to show Fahrenheit only before the election, but quickly changed that stance, planning to show both beforehand.

Honestly, I feel sorry for this librarian. I don't think anyone was actually trying to push a certain point of view. The decision to show Fahrenheit was originally made not because the library wanted to embrace its point of view, but because so many patrons were clamoring to check out a copy before election day that a public showing was the only way the library could accomodate them all. I feel for the library; they tried their best to help all their patrons, and one guy has absolutely barbecued them in the press, accusing them of being biased when they were only trying to give their patrons what they had requested.

Both movies should be shown now. I am a library director in an area with more Republicans than Democrats. We showed both Fahrenheit and Fahrenhype films at the same time in adjoining meeting rooms. We have had 6 showings on two different days (demand was high). We had NO complaints because we were being fair and balanced. The President came to town and I and a staff member went down and handed out flyers for the two films. One gentleman was so impressed that when I went into the local restuarant he followed me in. He then announced to the diners that I was the library director and how great it was that we were showing both movies (as he waved his flyer in the air). The patrons cheered and applauded. This past year we have run a series of programs on election issues including candidate forums and debates. Our community has loved it as well as our community leaders. As long as you are fair and balanced you have nothing to fear.
Show the movies now!

Susan Dillinger
Library Director
New Port Richey Public Library
New Port Richey, FL

As long as you are fair and balanced you have nothing to fear

Kudos Susan!

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