Either speech is free or it is not. PEN exists to support the right of writers to say things others may seek to punish them for. Surely anyone intelligent enough to work the alphabet understands that this means it exists to defend speech others find offensive. To choose PCism over freedom of speech indicates a split with PEN’s fundamental principles so severe that the writers in question should just resign.
NEW YORK – Salman Rushdie on Monday defended the PEN American Center’s plans to honour the magazine Charlie Hebdo, saying the decision of six writers to skip the PEN gala in protest will encourage intimidation.
Rushdie said in an email to The Associated Press that PEN is “quite right” to honour the Charlie Hebdo artists killed during a January shooting at the magazine’s Paris offices. Rushdie is a former president of the PEN American Center, a literary and human rights organization. He was forced into hiding for years over death threats related to his novel, The Satanic Verses, which Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini condemned as anti-Muslim.
“The Charlie Hebdo artists were executed in cold blood for drawing satirical cartoons, which is an entirely legitimate activity. It is quite right that PEN should honour their sacrifice and condemn their murder,” Rushdie wrote.
Canadian Michael Ondaatje, Peter Carey and four…
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