Suzanne Nossel: What’s the Case Against Free Speech?
In conversation with Andrew Keen on the Keen On
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On today’s episode, Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America and author of the new book Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All, discusses how to defend free speech for all.
From the episode:
Andrew Keen: What’s the case against free speech? Is there one?
Suzanne Nossel: There is. I mean, the most potent case, I would say, right now against free speech is that it is a smokescreen for hatred and that as part of our drive to bring about a more equal, inclusive, anti-racist society, we need to expunge hateful, noxious and bigoted speech so that everybody can feel at home, you know, in this society that people aren’t subject to damaging, demeaning speech. You know, we just had this debate between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Ted Yoho from Florida over denigrating speech and the impact that it can have on an individual, not just personally, but also societally add another whole category of people like women. So the argument that has emerged, particularly as such speech has been uncorked through our society and legitimized by the president of the United States, is that something needs to be done. And if that means people have to cede their free speech rights, that it’s worth it because we’re going to have a more just society. So I think that’s the most powerful argument. And it’s not one to dismiss or take lightly. I think we have to take seriously concerns over the impact of speech. I don’t think the answer is banning or punishing it, but that doesn’t mean speech can’t cause harm.
Watch the conversation:
Suzanne Nossel is the CEO of PEN America, the foremost organization working to protect and advance human rights, free expression and literature. She has also served as the Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch and as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA; and held senior State Department positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Nossel frequently writes op-eds for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other publications, as well as a regular column for Foreign Policy magazine. She lives in New York City.