Free Speech Press Release

07.31.13

Greene County Fair Wrong to Censor Award-Winning Photograph, Says ACLU

XENIA, OH – The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio criticized a decision by the Greene County Agricultural Society to revoke a first place award for a photograph submitted to the Greene County Fair. The photograph depicted a September 1924 Ku Klux Klan rally in Dayton. In addition to rescinding the photograph’s first place award, it was removed from the Green County Fair’s premises and is no longer on display. County Fair officials have stated that the photograph was removed after they received a complaint that it was offensive.

“Removing the photograph and stripping it of its award was clearly an overreaction on the part of county fair officials,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James Hardiman. “At its best, artwork should stimulate critical thinking and dialogue. Instead of shielding the photograph from public view, fair officials should have seized this opportunity to spark discussion around the often painful history of racial discrimination in our nation.”

“When confronted with ideas or opinions that challenge us, censorship is never the answer,” added Hardiman. “While it may be painful for many Americans to see images that remind us of past discrimination and injustices, ignoring that those events occurred will only strengthen those who wish them reincarnated. By acknowledging the past and understanding how prejudice is fostered, we can ensure future generations reject hatred and discrimination.”