PEN America Speaks: How We Defended and Celebrated Free Expression The Week of Jan. 8
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.
- A federal judge in Florida allowed PEN America’s first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit against book bans in Escambia County to proceed. Our lawsuit, filed with Penguin Random House, banned authors, and parents and students in the district, claims these bans violate the First Amendment and engage in unlawful viewpoint discrimination. We also published a list of more than 1,600 of Escambia County’s banned books, including the dictionary.
- PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel wrote for CNN that DEI and free speech can go hand in hand.
- Freedom to Learn Program Director Jeremy C. Young and Jeffrey Adam Sachs wrote about an emerging legislative agenda from supporters of educational censorship: going after the institutions and practices that make academic freedom possible.
- Florida Director Katie Blankenship and Young wrote about dangerous reform of higher education in Florida, where a new Florida regulation could prevent professors or students at the state’s universities from discussing women’s health, race and racism, environmentally sustainable practices, or even politics.
- Young wrote for the Hill that higher education needs to reform itself. It also needs to defend itself.
- Young also wrote with Jacqueline Allain in Governing, arguing that cuts to the arts and humanities are a free expression issue.
- Research Program Manager Ryan Howzell wrote about extremism as a topline concern for journalists ahead of the 2024 elections.
- Free Expression and Education Manager Kristen Shahverdian was interviewed about the free speech debate after the resignation of Harvard’s Claudine Gay.
- PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) shared their vision for developing a culture of safety.
- PEN America called for the reinstatement of an Indiana University professor who was suspended after he reportedly failed to accurately fill out a form for a lecture involving an Israeli-American writer and activist, which the University subsequently denied.
- PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) urgently called on the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University (IU) to reinstate the planned inaugural U.S. retrospective exhibition of Palestinian artist Samia Halaby, calling its cancellation “an alarming affront to free expression.”
- ARC called for charges to be dropped against Iranian musician Mehdi Yarrahi, who has been sentenced to two years imprisonment and seventy-four lashes for his song “Roosarito” (Your Head Scarf).
- In this week’s PEN Ten, 2017 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award winner Hisham Matar talks about his third and latest novel about life in exile, My Friends, the figure of the writer, and the “emotional country” that friendship becomes when you cannot return home.