Free Speech Press Release

03.12.08

ACLU Warns Library on Censorship of Program

Cancellation of Program Threatens Free Thought and Expression

Read the letter to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library

Addenda: ACLU of Ohio regrets two errors of fact in our original press release. The Council on American Islamic Relations was not a co sponsor of the event. Rather, a representative of that group who was to act as moderator agreed to step aside in the futile hope of the program continuing. And, the library has announced it will cancel the second and third session. We deeply regret these errors.

CLEVELAND- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio warned the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library that recent censorship of public educational programs could stifle free speech. Recently, the library cancelled the first program in a series on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict amid complaints that the presentation would be biased.

ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Jeffrey Gamso said, “The cancellation of this event is blatant and shameful censorship of particular views. Libraries should be a place where members of the public congregate and exchange ideas with one another.”

“The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Library has in effect said that only opinions that are not controversial will be given a platform there,” added Gamso.

The event was sponsored by Cleveland Peace Action. The program was to feature a 30 minute documentary called “Searching for Peace in the Middle East” followed by a structured public discussion facilitated by members of the Arab, Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities.

The library has cancelled the final two events.