PEN America works tirelessly to defend free expression, support persecuted writers, and promote literary culture. Here are some of the latest ways PEN America is speaking out.

  • PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel wrote that the cancelation of a JCC book talk is dangerous self-censorship by the Jewish community. Last month, a Florida JCC canceled a book talk by author Rachel Beanland because her novel The House is On Fire, is set amid slavery and deals with themes of racial justice. 
  • PEN America, along with a group of free expression and anti-censorship groups, sent a letter to schools across Florida alerting them to legal filings by the state’s attorney general that the “Don’t Say Gay” law doesn’t apply to school libraries. The Florida Freedom to Read Project, PEN America, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), and We Need Diverse Books called on the Florida Department of Education to issue new guidance explaining that distinction to schools, and asked schools to put books back on shelves. Send a letter.
  • Moira Marquis from PEN America’s Prison and Justice Writing Program wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times to reinforce the importance of reading and writing programs – that are highly censored and policed in the U.S. As a response to “Finding Clarity and Inspiration in Writing, While Incarcerated,” she said: “Prisons and jails actively prevent people from reading and writing much more than they encourage it. Thousands of books are banned in individual states; New York alone has banned 5,356 separate titles.”
  • Nossel spoke to Margaret Sullivan about the hypocrisy of Elon Musk’s free speech ideas. “Musk has declared open season for hate on his platforms,” she said. 
  • PEN America stood against Elon Musk’s threat to sue the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for defamation, claiming their advocacy calling out antisemitism on his platform, X (formerly known as Twitter), has caused significant financial losses.  Kate Ruane, Sy Syms director of the U.S. Free Expression programs said: “Self-appointed ‘free speech-defender’ Elon Musk is seeking to silence one of his strongest and most effective critics because their advocacy was successful. At a minimum, Musk owes ADL an apology and should be grateful to them for trying to make his platform usable for everyone.”
  • Justin Shilad, PEN America’s research and advocacy lead for the Middle East and North Africa region, strongly condemned the imprisonment of Egyptian poet Galal El-Behairy,who started a hunger strike to mark five years since he was detained. “El-Behairy’s continued imprisonment, despite the completion of his sentence and the exhaustion of his pretrial detention limit, show the abuses heaped upon untold numbers of Egyptians for their peaceful expression.”
  • Jeremy Young, Freedom to Learn program director, spoke to The Washington Post about Texas A&M’s plan to replace a lesson on “respect and inclusion,” due to educational censorship laws. “What happens in a state like Texas impacts schools all around the country, even if indirectly. It creates a climate of fear, even in states that aren’t interested in passing laws like this.” 

See previous PEN America updates