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May 25, 1997

Nancy Friday Banned in Canada?

Last Thursday, May 15 and the following day, the RCMP visited 3 public libraries in British Columbia, with the intent to seize copies of Nancy Friday's book Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Sexual Fantasies (1991: Simon and Schuster). Two of the libraries stated that the book was not in circulation. When the RCMP visited Merritt Public Library, which did have the book, the library requested to see the warrant ordering the book's seizure. Apparently, the police did not have any warrant, so the library refused to turn over the book.

A lawyer for the B.C. libraries apparently tracked down the source of the unwarranted attempt to ban a library book, to a Winnipeg Crown attorney's office.

Last February, Winnipeg police had received a complaint about Friday's book being available through the Winnipeg public library. This happened while two officers were guests on a radio call-in show. The Crown attorney's office then investigated the book, and found it to be obscene, i.e. in contravention of the Criminal Code section 163(8).

A memo was then issued to Winnipeg police to take action against the book. The local library was then warned to either remove the book from circulation or possibly face criminal charges. Winnipeg police also intend to contact booksellers.

At this point, it remains questionable as to whether police will lay any charges at all, in light of their lack of any court order to have the book seized. It is more likely that they are relying upon false threats of criminal charges, in order to bully compliance from librarians and booksellers. A common police tactic, which has been used against video retail and rental outlets as well.