Chicago theater threatens to shut down D'Souza, '2016' screening

UPDATED: The Chicago venue has decided to honor their written agreement. The Dinesh D’Souza event in Chicago will go on as scheduled. Score one for Freedom of Speech.

CHICAGO, Illinois, September 18, 2012 – Conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza is set to appear at the Gene Siskel Center in Chicago Saturday for an audience Q&A and special screening of his hit film, “2016: Obama’s America.” 

But, three days before the event, the Chicago venue is now threatening to break its contract, putting the D’Souza appearance in jeopardy.

The problems began last Friday when Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed printed an item about the event, which is being hosted by, in her column:

The mean screen: Anti-Obama filmmaker whose documentary “2016: Obama’s America” has become one of the top-grossing documentaries of all time, hits town Sept. 22nd for a screening at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Radio firebrand William Kelly is hosting the event.

The blowback from the Siskel Center was immediate.

The Center’s executive director Jean de St. Aubin called me about the “intense political pressure” she was under and how embarrassed she was over a “few phone calls” she had received.

Sneed also told me via telephone that the Siskel Center was “angry with her for running the item.”

Why? Sneed was simply reporting that the event was taking place.

However, in Chicago, things are never that simple.

After all, Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy just wants to run a business. TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts just wants to express his political point-of-view.

I just want to have Dinesh D’Souza to Chicago to talk about his film, ‘2016.’

The Chicago Machine has always prided itself on the tyrannical control of information flow within the city limits and beyond. Free speech for the conservatives that live here has always been an aspiration, not a reality. Business, success, and life, in general, are circumscribed by the heavy-handed tactics of the Chicago way.

On September 19, I received a series of apologetic – but firm – emails explaining there was a “problem” with the use of the contracted theater space for the D’Souza event.

The email from the Siskel Center states,  “We have an unfortunate conflict on Saturday afternoon… A program that we host in conjunction with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago every Thursday evening booked a Saturday screening months ago.”

Coincidence? The event with Dinesh D’Souza takes place this Saturday.

I began discussing this event with the Siskel Center back in early September. After the date was checked and cleared, a contract was signed and countersigned on September 11.  In reliance on the contract, other contracts were set in motion. Legal obligations have been undertaken. Advance tickets have been sold.

Despite all this, the Siskel Center is not planning on allowing the D’Souza event to take place as contracted this Saturday.

The Siskel Center has few ideas – one of them is finding the event a new location:

“I am trying to accommodate you,” de St. Aubin states in a September 18 email. “I know that this is a difficult situation for all of us. I have provided numerous options for you, short of finding a new location, which I would be happy to make recommendations if you would like.”

Translation: Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office contacted the Siskel Center and told them to cancel this event. This is Rahm’s city now and that means “no D’Souza.”

This is not first time that Rahm and his cronies have attempted to silence the opposition and it won’t be the last.

George Washington once said, “If freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

But we aren’t dumb and we can’t be silent.

So I say to Rahm Emanuel: Let Dinesh D’Souza speak. Let him tell his side of the story.

Let the people decide for themselves.

We have a contract and we are not backing down.


William J. Kelly is the Chairman of He is an Emmy award-winning TV producer and conservative columnist  and native from Chicago’s Southside.

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William Kelly


Conservative commentator, satirist, and radio talk show host William J. Kelly pens the “Kelly Truth Squad” and “The Tea Party Report” for the Washington Times Communities and is a contributor to the American Spectator and Kelly is also a producer of Emmy award-winning TV and received an Emmy nomination himself for outstanding achievement on-camera. He was previously the Executive Director of the National Taxpayers United of Illinois, a taxpayer watchdog group. He is a native of Chicago’s South side. For more information, visit

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