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DARE To Be Informed

The most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression this week.


Greg Gianforte should not get a free pass
Gabe Rottman, PEN America Washington director, writes: “Our national commitment to free speech rests on a thin reed: that we can speak without fear of retaliation. The House would be remiss if it does not at least investigate Gianforte’s assault and his false statement. The First Amendment means nothing if lawmakers or law enforcement feel free to respond to questions or criticism with fisticuffs or handcuffs. The House needs to make that abundantly clear by disciplining Gianforte.”

Facebook hires thousands to launch crackdown on ‘hate speech’
The California-based company said it will be hiring an additional 3,000 people to its community operations team, with the aim of deleting nearly 66,000 posts deemed to be offensive each week. The company rejected the idea that it is trying to censor what their users post, and said failing to remove content that other users feel is offensive would not be “living up to the values in our Community Standards.”

Supreme Court Takes Up Travel Ban Case, and Allows Parts to Go Ahead
The Supreme Court cleared the way on Monday for President Trump to prohibit the entry of some people into the United States from countries he deems dangerous, but the justices imposed strict limits on Mr. Trump’s travel ban while they examine the scope of presidential power over the border. Mr. Trump quickly hailed the court’s decision to hear arguments on the travel ban in October, saying — in a formal White House statement, not a tweet — that the justices’ temporary lifting of some of the legal roadblocks to his ban was a “clear victory” for national security.

Supreme Court to Take Case on Baker Who Refused to Sell Wedding Cake to Gay Couple
Lower courts had ruled that Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, had violated Colorado’s public accommodations law, which prohibits refusing service to customers based on factors such as race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation. The Supreme Court said it will consider next term whether the Denver baker unlawfully discriminated against a gay couple by refusing to sell them a wedding cake.


China Releases Dissident Liu Xiaobo to Die in Freedom  *PEN Case List
China has rejected global criticism over its treatment of Nobel laureate and government critic Liu Xiaobo. Liu was released on medical parole on Monday, suffering from terminal cancer which his relatives say is too far advanced to cure. Human rights activists are now trying to get Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia out of the country so he can be treated.

Turkey’s Writers Face Yet More Trials *PEN Case List
When novelist Aslı Erdoğan was arraigned before a judge and told the charges she faced, she fainted. She was charged under Article 302 of the Turkish penal code: disrupting the unity and integrity of the state. Writing in Turkey—chronicling current events in particular—has always been a dangerous undertaking. But the crackdown carried out by the Turkish government since the failed coup is the largest one in decades. There are an estimated hundred and sixty-five journalists, writers, and other members of the media behind bars in Turkey today.

Messaging app Telegram registers with Russian regulator
The founder of encrypted messaging app Telegram has agreed to register the company in Russia following pressure from local authorities. Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor had warned that Telegram would be blocked if it did not comply with new data laws. Founder Pavel Durov insisted Telegram would not share confidential user data.

Hundreds Have Gone Missing in Eastern Ukraine’s Dirty War
Stanislav Aseev, a 27-year-old undercover journalist, has joined the hundreds of people — or possibly several thousand — who are missing or held as prisoners of war in eastern Ukraine. Although front-line hostilities have reached a simmering deadlock, a dirty war persists in the wider, lawless region. Brutal and vile treatment of prisoners, indefinite detention and the use of solitary confinement are common to both sides. But abuses occur on a greater scale in breakaway territory, where even the young are vulnerable.

In-Depth Analysis

Why the Case for Transparency Must Be Made Anew
The Trump administration’s penchant for secrecy is not a media issue; it is a democracy issue. And that makes it the weak spot in Trump’s otherwise successful jihad against American journalism. Journalists may regard the case for transparency in government as self-evident, but it should be made anew. The Trump era provides an opportunity to go back to first principles and remind the public why the freedom of the press is enshrined in the First Amendment.

DARE is a project of PEN America’s #LouderTogether campaign, bringing you a daily-curated roundup of the most important free expression-related news from the U.S. and abroad. Send your feedback and story suggestions to

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