PEN America Speaks: How We Defended and Celebrated Free Expression The Week of Jan. 1
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.
- In response to news that Orange County, Florida, banned nearly 700 books including two by Ann Patchett, the author warned in a video for PEN America, “be careful. Don’t read these books.”
- Omaid Sharifi, senior manager of Protection Programs for the Artists at Risk Connection, wrote for The Hill that Afghan artists have been categorically persecuted as the Taliban’s brutal oppression has relentlessly sought to eradicate creative expression.
- Jonathan Friedman, director of Free Expression Programs, spoke to SRF television about the resignations of Harvard President Claudine Gay and University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill after their appearance before congress.
- PEN America expressed profound concern about Le Huu Minh Tuan, an editor, and member of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN), whose health has sharply declined since his arrest in January 2021, and calls on the Vietnamese government to immediately release, drop all charges, and provide critical medical attention to Le Huu Minh Tuan.
- PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) condemned the new conviction of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi for “propaganda against the system.” He was initially arrested in October 2022 for rap lyrics in support of Iran’s “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests.
- Kristen Shahverdian, senior manager of free expression and education, said that a tenure review of former chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus Joe Gow— fired last month from his chancellorship and placed on leave for pornographic videos he made with his wife— calls into question the university’s commitment to academic freedom.
- BNN Breaking News cited Ryan Howzell, program manager for research, about the need for California to recognize that its policies may require modifications as they’re adapted outside the state, based on our report, The Florida and California Effects. Howzell wrote for the Sacramento Bee that some of California’s new laws are too open to interpretation from bad actors.
- See previous PEN America updates