Thursday, April 30, 2015

Charlie Hebdo and free speech.

Facts For Working People congratulates the writers below that have refused to support awarding Charlie Hebdo a free speech award.  The statement from the writers below eloquently describes why they do not support the decision of the US writers group, PEN to give the award. FFWP does not support the right of Nazis to free speech.  FFWP does not support the capitalist state denying the Nazis the right to free speech but the organized working class doing so.

Muslims in France are around 10% of the population a and by some accounts 40% of the prison population.  They are, as the statement says, victims of French colonialism. FFWP stands with the signatories below.  And thanks to Glenn Greenwald for his contributions to the struggle for democracy and freedom.  FFWP Admin

145 PEN Writers (Thus Far) Have Objected to the Charlie Hebdo Award – Not Just 6

Featured photo - 145 PEN Writers (Thus Far) Have Objected to the Charlie Hebdo Award – Not Just 6

Contrary to media accounts claiming that only 6 PEN members have objected to the group’s decision to bestow Charlie Hebdo with an award, the actual number is currently 145 PEN members (6 writers scheduled to be table heads at this year’s event have withdrawn, and the list includes writers who have served as table heads at prior events). Below is the letter drafted by several of the objecting writers, along with the current full list of signatories:
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April 26, 2015
In March it was announced that the PEN Literary Gala, to be held May 5th 2015, would honor the magazine Charlie Hebdo with the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award in response to the January 7 attacks that claimed the lives of many members of its editorial staff.

It is clear and inarguable that the murder of a dozen people in the Charlie Hebdo offices is sickening and tragic. What is neither clear nor inarguable is the decision to confer an award for courageous freedom of expression on Charlie Hebdo, or what criteria, exactly were used to make that decision.

We do not believe in censoring expression. An expression of views, however disagreeable, is certainly not to be answered by violence or murder. However, there is a critical difference between staunchly supporting expression that violates the acceptable, and enthusiastically rewarding
such expression.

In the aftermath of the attacks, Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons were characterized as satire and “equal opportunity offense,” and the magazine seems to be entirely sincere in its anarchic expressions of principled disdain toward organized religion. But in an unequal society, equal opportunity offence does not have an equal effect.

Power and prestige are elements that must be recognized in considering almost any form of discourse, including satire. The inequities between the person holding the pen and the subject fixed on paper by that pen cannot, and must not, be ignored.

To the section of the French population that is already marginalized, embattled, and victimized, a population that is shaped by the legacy of France’s various colonial enterprises, and that contains a large percentage of devout Muslims, Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the Prophet must be seen as being intended to cause further humiliation and suffering.

Our concern is that, by bestowing the Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award on Charlie Hebdo, PEN is not simply conveying support for freedom of expression, but also valorizing selectivelyoffensive material: material that intensifies the anti-Islamic, anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the Western world.

In our view, PEN America could have chosen to confer its PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award upon any of a number of journalists and whistleblowers who have risked, and sometimes lost, their freedom (and even their lives) in service of the greater good.

PEN is an essential organization in the global battle for freedom of expression. It is therefore particularly disheartening to see that PEN America has chosen to honor the work and mission of Charlie Hebdo above those who not only exemplify the principles of free expression, but whose
courage, even when provocative or discomfiting, has also been fastidiously exercised for the good of humanity.

We the undersigned, as writers, thinkers, and members of PEN, therefore respectfully wish to disassociate ourselves from PEN America’s decision to give the 2015 Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo.

Chris Abani
Leslie Absher
Elizabeth Adams
Gabeba Baderoon
Deborah Baker
Russell Banks
Susan Bell
Naomi Benaron
Helen Benedict
Cara Benson
Charles Ramírez Berg
Susan Bernofksy
Eric Bogosian
Donald Breckenridge
Ami Sands Brodoff
Karen Brown Brooks
Janet Burroway
Helene Cardona
Peter Carey
Bryn Chancellor
Carmela Ciuraru
Patricia Clark
Tony Cohan
Teju Cole
Michael Cunningham
Emily M. Danforth
Tod Davies
Siddhartha Deb
Junot Díaz
Erin Edmison
Brent Hayes Edwards
Brian T. Edwards
Deborah Eisenberg
Hedi El Kholti
Trey Ellis
Eve Ensler
Elizabeth Enslin
Barbara Epler
Jennifer Cody Epstein
Ali Eteraz
Percival Everett
Marlon L. Fick
Boris Fishman
Stona Fitch
Peter H. Fogtdal
Seánan Forbes
Ashley Ford
Linda Nemec Foster
Lauren Francis-Sharma
Ru Freeman
Nell Freudenberger
Molly Friedrich
Joshua Furst
Gretchen Gerzina
Keith Gessen
Francisco Goldman
Conner Habib
Jessica Hagedorn
Katheryn Harrison
Jonathan T. Hine Jr.
Edward Hoagland
Laura Hoffmann
Nancy Horan
Marya Hornbacher
Sandra Hunter
Megan Hustad
Randa Jarrar
T. Geronimo Johnson
John Keahey
Uzma Aslam Khan
Dave King
Gilbert King
Robert Spencer Knotts
Ruth Ellen Kocher
Nancy Kricorian
Amitava Kumar
Rachel Kushner
Amy Lawless
Zachary Lazar
Jonathan Lee
Katherine Leiner
Ted Lewin
Ed Lin
Michael Lindgren
Julie Livingston
Craig Lucas
Ann Malaspina
Charlotte Mandell
C. M. Mayo
Patrick McGrath
Clarissa McNair
Deena Metzger
Thais Miller
Kyle Minor
Rick Moody
Skye Moody
Lorrie Moore
Dolan Morgan
James McGrath Morris
Idra Novey
Stephen O’Connor
Joyce Carol Oates
Peter Orner
Michael Ondaatje
Raj Patel
Chris Pavone
Francine Prose
Marcus Rediker
Adam Rex
Clay Risen
Roxana Robinson
David Roediger
Paul Rome
Mark Rotella
Gina Ruiz
Steven Schroeder
Sarah Schulman
Taiye Selasi
Danzy Senna
Kamila Shamsie
Jeff Sharlet
Wallace Shawn
Matthew Shenoda
Nancy Shiffrin
Russell Shorto
Charles Simic
Tom Sleigh
Holly Goldberg Sloan
Alexis M. Smith
Jill Smolowe
Linda Spalding
Scott Spencer
Emily Gray Tedrowe
Roy A. Teel Jr.
Michael Thomas
Ted Thompson
Kathleen Tolan
Joanne Turnbull
Chase Twichell
Padma Venkatraman
Jasmine Dreame Wagner
Eliot Weinberger
Jon Wiener
G. K. Wuori
Dave Zirin

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