In response to the suspension of commentator Jemele Hill following her tweets regarding the protests of NFL players, PEN America released the following statement: 

“PEN America regrets ESPN’s decision to suspend commentator Jemele Hill over her tweets regarding responses to NFL players’ protests. ESPN may be within its rights as an employer to discipline Ms. Hill for speech that it said was counter to the company’s social media policy. Its decision, however, comes against the backdrop of direct personal attacks on Ms. Hill by the president of the United States, and by his press secretary, including a statement that her expression of personal views should be grounds for her to be fired. Given the administration’s statements, PEN America voices serious concern about the impact that such government pressure may have on private actors deciding how to respond to speech that draws negative attention from the United States government. In the context of government statements that aim to deter and elicit punishment for Ms. Hill’s exercise of her free speech rights, we urge ESPN to stand with her in defense of those rights.”


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.

Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator: [email protected], +1.646.981.0685