In response to the Republican Party labeling the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol “legitimate political discourse,” PEN America issued the following statement from CEO Suzanne Nossel:

“The characterization of the January 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol as “legitimate political discourse” is perverse, and constitutes an open invitation to an escalation of violence in American public life.  As free speech defenders well understand, speech and physical violence are not the same.  They should never be equated, because to do so is to legitimize responding to the peaceful expression of ideas with brute force.  As a free speech organization, we have often called out those who decry the expression of offensive viewpoints as a form of violence.  Here, deadly violence is being mischaracterized as speech.  For U.S. political officials to wilfully blur this line imperils free speech and democracy, and risks rendering our society more physically dangerous.