Open Up, Movie Police!
By Vin Suprynowicz
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
development director for the American Civil
Liberties Union in Oklahoma, had not even finished watching his rented
videotape of the Academy Award-winning 1979 German film, "The Tin
Drum," when Oklahoma City police came pounding on his front door June
25, demanding that he hand it over.
the strong impression that verbal resistance on my part was
futile and they were going to get that tape one way or another and
arrest me if they had to," Mr. Camfield told The Associated Press.
had used video store records to track Camfield down.
Judge Richard Freeman ruled June 25 that the movie was
obscene under Oklahoma law, which rules obscene any depiction of a
person under 18 -- or anyone portraying someone under 18 -- having
was responding to a complaint by Oklahomans for
Children and Families, a pro-censorship group protesting the
availability of the film at a public library.
"The Tin Drum,"
which won the 1979 Oscar for best foreign film, is
Volker Schlondorff's adaptation of Gunter Grass' respected novel of
the same name. The movie includes one scene in which a boy,
supposedly about 6 or 7, is depicted having oral sex in a bathhouse
with a teen-age girl.
anyone who really investigated the film or book
would know that the hero stops growing, physically, upon the ascension
of the Nazi Party, making it a matter of debate just how old a
character is being depicted in this not-particularly-arousing scene.)
because of the judge's ruling, police felt obliged to
move within hours to confiscate copies of the film from six video
stores and Mr. Camfield's home. Mr. Camfield said he rented the movie
so he would be familiar with the contents, and before learning of the
reports of "censorship" in America concern parents
questioning whether materials in the government schools are
age-appropriate, here we have the real thing -- a heavy-handed example
of overzealous police out running around protecting the public from
... what, exactly? Was anyone forced to view this rather rarefied
entertainment against his will?
in question is a surreal look at -- ironically enough --
the way the Nazi terror crept into Germany on little cat feet. The
point of view of a child is purposely chosen, in part to show the way
evil can at first appear natural enough ... a mere upswing in the
incidence of brass bands and new uniforms ... but also to develop the
metaphor of a society trapped in a childish desire for pageantry and
"purity," no matter who has to be burned at the stake to keep the
American judge and police who claim the enactment of
this troglodyte law "left them no choice" are dead wrong. Their oaths
of office -- and the precedent of Nuremberg -- require them, first and
foremost, to protect and defend the Constitution, and the plain
meaning of its First Amendment.
they enforce a new law, requiring them to round up and ship
off some unpopular minority group in box cars? Presumably they would,
arguing they "had no choice."
Bell, executive director of the Oklahoma ACLU, said Thursday
the seizures reminded her of "book burnings organized by Hitler's
# # #
from Washington sends word that the first forthright
documentary on the Waco massacre, "Waco: The Rules of Engagement" --
featuring the government's own Forward-Looking Infrared Footage
(acquired via the Freedom of Information Act) of automatic weapons
being fired into the church during the final tank assault, is
scheduled to air July 7 on "National Empowerment Television."
on satellite and various cable networks," Ms. Moore
advises, "7 p.m. pdt, GE1 channel 19."
recent review of the David Kopel-Paul Blackman book "No
More Wacos: What's Wrong With Federal Law Enforcement and How to Fix
It" (Prometheus Books, Amherst, N.Y., ISBN 1-57392-125-4), Dr. Paul
Gallant, a Wesley Hills, N.Y. optometrist and chairman of the
Committee for Law-Abiding Gun Owners, writes that current trends in
federal law enforcement are "now threatening to derail the course of
American history, irrevocably, into a dead-end police state ...
legal justification for the BATF investigation at Waco
was ownership of automatic firearms without proper registration and
taxation. No crimes were even alleged to have been committed by the
Branch Davidians with their firearms, Kopel and Blackman note: 'The
76-person BATF raid on Mt. Carmel was, ultimately, a tax collection
Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las
Vegas Review-Journal. Readers may contact him via e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at
The column is syndicated in the
United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box
4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127.