Unfortunately for civil-rights activists--not to mention movie buffs--an Oklahoma judge ain't a film connoisseur.
Earlier this week, District Judge Richard Freeman said, classic or not, Tin Drum is obscene. Based on his decision, Oklahoma City police have raided six video stores, one home and the local library and seized copies of the movie. The videos will reportedly be destroyed.
Those seizures have ticked off First Amendment fans, who are now calling for a federal investigation. "This kind of insensitive disregard of our fundamental rights of expression and free speech is outrageous," said Joann Bell, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.
Bell said the ACLU "received several complaints from citizens whose homes were violated without a search warrant last evening as the police went to private homes to confiscate copies of this video." According to Bell, video stores made their rental records available to police, who then tracked down those renting Tin Drum.
Police said they only took a copy of the film from one home, that of Michael Canfield, an ACLU official who was reviewing the movie. Besides, said the cops, we were just following the judge's order.
Freeman, who made his declaration Wednesday, claimed he was handcuffed by Oklahoma law, which defines obscenity as any depiction of a person under 18, or anyone portraying someone under 18, having sex. "Frankly, as long as the statute is the way it is, I couldn't do anything else," the judge said.
Tin Drum, or Die Blechtrommel, is Schlondorff's take on the Gunter Grass novel about Nazi Germany as seen through a young boy's eyes. The boy decides to arrest his development and just bang his tin drum to protest the follies of adults. It includes one scene where the boy--about age 7--has oral sex in a bathhouse with a teenage girl.
The ever-enlightened Oklahoma County D.A., Bob Macy, says he will press charges against anyone found with the video from now on. Police will also continue their crackdown--a move local ACLU head Bell likened to "book burnings organized by Hitler's Gestapo."
"We cannot sit back silently while this coalition of religious fanatics and pliant law enforcement officials repeal the Bill of Rights," she added.