‘Sicko’ film will be shown at EPL

By Tom Phelan - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Fri., Jan. 28, 2011
Library Director Henry Dutcher (right) appeared before the Town Council recently to pitch the First Readers program. He was not present for the ‘Sicko’ flap, but has a plan to manage the situation. Photo by Tom Phelan.
Library Director Henry Dutcher (right) appeared before the Town Council recently to pitch the First Readers program. He was not present for the ‘Sicko’ flap, but has a plan to manage the situation. Photo by Tom Phelan.

ENFIELD - When Enfield resident Kevin Fealy recently asked the Enfield Town Council to do something about the scheduled showing of the controversial movie “Sicko” at the Enfield Public Library, it be became more than just another ‘to-do’ on the respective lists of the town manager and the library director.
First reported in the local media as being canceled, the movie has, in fact, actually been “postponed.” Library Director Henry Dutcher announced on Tuesday, Jan. 25, that director Michael Moore’s non-fiction film, “Sicko,” would be shown. The viewing date has yet to be determined.
“The library director and town manager have brought resolution to the situation the library has found itself caught up in over the last week,” Dutcher said in a notice issued over his signature by the library. That “resolution” has three key parts.  
“[F]irst, stepping back with the Hot Topics film series and revamping it to bring in more viewpoints,” the notice read. That move addresses the main concern raised at the council meeting – balancing the viewpoints presented. Dutcher said it was “an action I have no problem with, as the principal of providing balance and all viewpoints is something we [at the Enfield Public Library] believe in.”
As his second resolution point, Dutcher said, “‘Sicko’ will be shown.” His third point was that the “library will continue to be run just as it has for all of the time I’ve been here.”
“Where in America, today, do you see a situation resolved with rationality and reason?” Dutcher said in the notice. “And isn’t that a sensational story?”
At his office the day after the public notice was issued, Dutcher talked about the process through which he and Town Manager Matt Coppler resolved the matter. “[There are] so many issues. Why can’t you just sit down and work it out?” he said, referring generally to the current level and tenor of public discourse in the nation. “That’s what people are saying, and I think Matt and I are trying that approach,” said Dutcher. “It’s an approach that makes a whole lot of sense.”
Dutcher related his conundrum in terms of his experience as a member of the Rotary Club, citing the tenets they espouse: “Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will, and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” He said he thought about those precepts as “driving force” for him as he worked through the matter. “I think it is in the best interest of the library to move in that way through an issue,” he said.
Dutcher said there were some people who were frustrated by his tactic. “Everybody wants me to just speak up about what happened,” he said. “It’s an issue. It’s an issue that needs to be resolved, and there are many ways to resolve it.” He went on to say that he was sure the way that he and Coppler are pursuing will be in the best interest of the town and the library. “I sincerely hope it works,” Dutcher added.
The criteria the library uses to select the films they show – award winners or nominees and box office successes – automatically eliminated an entire viewpoint, because other films had not risen to such a level. The reference librarian has always been charged with setting up the programs and identifying the films or books that are included. As the library revisits the Hot Topics program, a group of several library staff members will come up with solutions to the viewpoint imbalance. Everything will be considered, according to Dutcher.
During the council meeting, as several added their thoughts on the issue, Councilwoman Cynthia Mangini, uncertain about the plans for the showing said, “I don’t know what the library is looking to do... but I have a problem with censorship.”
Dutcher confirmed that the library has copies of “Sicko” on its shelves. “It’s part of our collection, as are quite a number of other kinds of things that people may traditionally have problems with.” He pointed to other controversial works among the library’s collection, such as Adolf Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” and the films “Triumph of the Will” and “Birth of a Nation.” “One of the ironies of what people consider censorship is that the most censored book in the world – not in the United States, in the world – is the Bible,” Dutcher said. He pointed to the balance of works in the collection. “For every Michael Moore, we have an Ann Coulter. For every Bill O’Reilly, we have a Keith Olberman,” he said.
Dutcher said he really felt the rational response to the issue in Enfield was pretty unique. “If you watch all of those shows that are now on television, it’s certainly unique in that sense.”

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