[Imc-miami] Motorcycle Diaries: letter to director / protest info

Paul Lefrak ftlpaul at yahoo.com
Wed Sep 28 16:22:54 PDT 2005

Below is a copy of the letter I sent to Broward County
Library Director Robert Cannon.  I work for BCL as a
librarian at the Main Library in downtown Ft. L.  

There will be a protest in front of the Southwest
Regional Library, 16835 Sheridan Street Pembroke
Pines, beginning at 5:30pm on Monday, October 3rd
which is when the movie was originally scheduled for. 
I just learned that the Broward ACLU has endorsed. 
More details will follow.

Paul Lefrak

> > Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2005 09:34:10 -0400
> From: "Paul Lefrak" <plefrak at browardlibrary.org>
> To: "Robert Cannon" <Rcannon at browardlibrary.org>
> Subject: profound disappointment
> Dear Mr. Cannon,
> I'm writing to express my profound disappointment
> over your decision to reschedule "The Motorcycle
> Diaries" to a time other than during Hispanic
> Heritage Month.  In doing so, I believe you yielded
> to a vocal extremist minority that seeks to shut
> down ANY dialogue on Cuba and progressive Latino
> politics in South Florida.  This region has had a
> long history of acts of violence and threats by
> those in alliance with those same political forces
> that pressured you to reschedule the movie.  Of all
> institutions that should defend democracy and free
> speech, the public library should be on the front
> line.  Broward County Library failed that test and
> it will reflect badly on us nationwide.
> The Library has a policy of how to handle material
> that is being challenged.  That same sort of process
> should apply to library programming.  Critics of the
> movie--which in fact has nothing to do with
> contemporary Cuba or the Cuban Revolution!--would
> have been free to attend the discussion and
> participate in a democratic fashion.  This movie is
> being shown by dozens of institutions across the
> country as part of their Hispanic Heritage Month
> celebration.  It's a shame that Broward County
> Library chose to placate a noisy pro-censorship
> faction that is notorious around the world for their
> ability to shut down debate in this region of the
> country rather than defend free speech and healthy
> dialogue.  BCL had an opportunity to take a lead as
> a defender of democratic ideals but instead took the
> role as political censor.
> I'm sure that you believe that by postponing the
> movie, you are still defending free speech and
> satisfying both sides of this debate.  I can assure
> you that this maneuver will satisfy neither.  By
> taking the film off the HHM schedule and moving it
> to a less publicized time, it does not lessen the
> fact that the library acted as a censor of a
> potentially controversial topic.  And if the movie
> was "offensive" in October, why would it be less so
> in November?  This rescheduling maneuver will only
> serve to embolden the opponents of healthy debate on
> Cuba and other controversial political topics.  Che
> Guevara is an important figure in the heritage of
> Hispanic people throughout this hemisphere and his
> legacy should be debated during HHM.  To shut down
> debate on this question is undemocratic and calls
> into question the Library's commitment to defending
> free speech.  
> I hope that you will reconsider this most
> unfortunate decision.  Thank you.
> Sincerely,
> Paul Lefrak
> Paul Lefrak, Librarian II
> Audio-Visual/Popular Library Section
> Broward County Main Library
> 100 S. Andrews Ave.
> Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
> phone: 954-357-7560 / fax: 954-357-6118
> email: plefrak at browardlibrary.org
> "A service of the Broward County Board of County
> Commissioners" 

"They are subversive. You think they're just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They're like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn't mess with them..."
--Michael Moore on librarians

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