Sunday, May 3, 2015

204 denigrators and disassociaters; 0 discussers and debaters

The number of PEN members who’ve signed on to a letter publicly disassociating themselves from the organization’s decision to award Charlie Hebdo for courage in defending free expression now stands at 204. I’ve been checking the page for Tuesday’s PEN forum “Charlie Hebdo and Challenges to Free Expression,” and have seen no updates about additions to the panel. Of course, it could be that the site just hasn’t been updated, but I assume this would be a significant enough development that it would be announced. I’m also sure that of the 204 signers, at least a few must be in New York, a short subway ride from the event.

I do continue to hope that a couple of the anti-Charlie crowd agree to join the panel, for a few reasons. First, I think that the best way to address their concerns is to give them a public airing in such a forum. Second, it seems to me that if you’re going to sign a statement declaring others undeserving of an award for courage, you should at least be willing to try to make your case in their presence. Third, I’ll be at the forum, which isn’t just a short subway ride for me, and I selfishly expect it will make the event far more lively and productive.