Pen Center USA West, the Association of American Publishers, the Authors Guild and more than 40 other organizations have issued sharp protests after the Oklahoma City police seized video copies of the film adaptation of Gunter Grass's 1959 novel The Tin Drum. A local court had ruled that the award-winning film was obscene under Oklahoma child pornography statutes.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a suit challenging the seizures and, in a strongly worded letter to the district attorney, PEN Center USA West president Eric Lax urged the county to refrain from further prosecutions until there has been a full judicial review. Lax emphasized that police actions were in violation of First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution and that the film, "like the novel on which it is based, has serious literary, artistic, educational and political value."
In 1979 the film adaptation won an Academy Award for best foreign film and tied for the Cannes Grand Prize. The controversy revolves around a scene in which a 16-year-old boy and girl engage in oral sex, which violates the state's anti-child pornography statute.
The controversial Oklahoma district court ruling came after a local anti-pornography group objected to film being available through the public library. Police subsequently seized copies of the film from six video stores; reportedly pressured store clerks to reveal names of people who rented the film; and confiscated copies from the homes of at least two people.