Friday, April 11, 2008

History of the funding of ideas: "If it is not against the law, you get to say it"

From Sarah Polley via the Globe and Mail, a pretty good summation of what is wrong with C-10, the federal government's bid to dictate content to films that may be funded by Telefilm Canada.

Governments, taxpayers, don't have to support the arts, culture, intellectual life. But if they do, they have to support them, not control them. The way to support culture is to support it, and to let it work out its own expression... subject only to the law, as Polley explained so succinctly to the senators yesterday.

To my knowledge, no universities, scholars, or historians have bothered to engage with the government's effort to prevent controversial filmmaking. Maybe they should. The principle is the same. If governments direct the content of films they subsidize, why would they not direct what is done and said by universities and their employees? Should professors be funded to say controversial things when filmmakers are not?

But it has always been hard to get academics to see their common interest with other intellectuals and artists.

Late update: I'm now informed that CAUT, the Canadian Association of University Teachers, (and I believe the Canadian Library Association too) submitted briefs supporting the film-makers and artists in opposition to Bill C-10. Bravo.
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