NEW YORK—In response to the New York Times—International edition’s decision to cease printing political cartoons, PEN America Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Nossel released the statement below: 

“We sincerely hope the New York Times will reconsider the decision to retire cartoons from its International edition. Free speech and open discourse demands an understanding that mistakes and offenses will occur, and a determination that these not be answered by shutting down expression to avert future lapses. In an age of fast-evolving social mores and heightened awareness of offense, political cartooning has become a risky business. But if outlets like the New York Times retreat from this uniquely potent form of political commentary, it may hasten the death of a form that has contributed immensely to our political conversation over time. The possibility of offense must not be reason to shut down valued channels of speech. As a leader in media the New York Times can get this right and help us to see how cartoons can continue to provide insight and inspiration amid our shared global commitment to eradicating bigotry.”

PEN America has been a staunch defender of cartoonists, including after the murders of 12 staff of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris in 2015, and sought to foster dialogue about how to keep open space for satire while acknowledging and addressing the serious harms bigotry can inflict.  


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: PEN America media consultant Suzanne Trimel, [email protected]