PEN AMERICA: Harassment is a major issue Everywhere

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Free Speech Concerns Persist As New California Law Bans Harassment At Vaccination Sites

It’s now illegal in California to harass people on their way into a vaccination clinic, under a law signed Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom. But First Amendment experts continue to raise legal questions about the law’s constitutionality, including its definition of harassment. Even though the measure, SB 742, was amended to remove a phrase that free speech experts said made it unconstitutional, they maintain that the new version still violates the First Amendment. “It sweeps up broad activities that are protected by the First Amendment and defines them as harassing,” said David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, which advocates for free speech and government transparency. “That problem hasn’t changed at all.”U.S. Free Expression Stories
 Netflix employees stage walkout over Dave Chappelle special
Hundreds of Netflix employees walked out of work in protest of the streaming platform’s controversial Dave Chappelle special. The workers, who are organized by “Team Trans,” believe the special is transphobic and are calling for Netflix to remove it and commit to releasing more “intersectional” content. The protest comes after extreme unrest at the streaming giant, with several employees and actors speaking out against Netflix and other employees claiming they were suspended for criticizing Chappelle’s special on social media. 

Student journalists say online harassment is a major issue 
During the pandemic, a cadre of college newspapers kept busy and broke news. Often working remotely with limited resources, student reporters kept their communities up to date on a broad range of subjects, including school reopening plans and the 2020 election. They also received a deluge of insulting comments, especially on social media. Sign PEN America’s petition calling on Facebook and Twitter to do more and do better on issues of online abuse. 

Oklahoma’s anti-critical race theory law violates free speech rights, ACLU suit says
A coalition of civil rights groups sued the state of Oklahoma on Tuesday over a law limiting instruction about race and gender in public schools. It is the first federal lawsuit to challenge a state statute implemented to prevent the teaching of critical race theory. The suit, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, argues that HB 1775, which took effect in May, violates students’ and teachers’ free speech rights and denies people of color, LGBTQ students and girls the chance to learn their history. See PEN America’s joint statement on the increase in such legislative efforts.
NBC NEWSThe Latest from PEN AmericaTell Facebook and Twitter: Take Action to #FightOnlineAbuseNow

Online abuse shouldn’t be a given. Yet every day, users of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter face death and rape threats, racial slurs, sexual harassment, doxing, and countless other kinds of abuse intended to intimidate, discredit, and silence them. The social media giants keep making excuses rather than taking meaningful steps to shield users from rampant hate and harassment. We’re sick of this S#!T. Join PEN America and the Coalition Against Online Violence and sign our petition telling the platforms it’s time to step up and #FightOnlineAbuseNow.Fall Bootcamp: LGBTQ+ Digital Safety & Online Abuse Defense
Wednesday 10/27  – Thursday 11/18 

Join PEN America, GLAAD, The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, and the Trans Journalists Association for a free webinar series offering a crash course on digital safety and online abuse defense for LGBTQ+ creative and media professionals. From hateful slurs and sexual harassment to impersonation and doxing, abusive tactics are intended to intimidate, discredit, and silence. But there are steps we can take to protect ourselves and one another. Hear from folks on the front line, and exchange strategies for how to stay safer and fight back. Learn more and register here.The PEN Pod: On Protesting Book Bans with the Students of York, PA

Today on The PEN Pod, check out a conversation among students Edha Gupta, Christina Ellis, and Rebecca Delgado, and teacher Patricia Jackson, of Pennsylvania’s Central York School District. In August, the Central York School District attempted to enact a ban on the use of hundreds of diverse materials for classroom instruction, all of which were created by people of color. Edha, Christina, and Rebecca attend Central York High School and are officers of their school’s Panther Anti-Racist Union, and they initiated protests in the district, which helped lead to an overturning of the ban. We spoke with these students and their teacher about how they learned about the ban, why they felt compelled to protest it, and why diverse materials are of critical importance in the classroom. Check out the discussion here.PEN America Welcomes PEN Belarus Report Detailing Persecution of Cultural Workers

PEN America welcomes the launch of PEN Belarus’s report, “Monitoring of Violations of Cultural and Human Rights Against Cultural Workers,” which documents the persecution of writers, artists, poets, and other cultural figures between January and September 2021. “Our sister organization PEN Belarus has recorded 1,032 violations of the rights of cultural workers since January of this year, including arbitrary detention, forbidding prisoner access to books, and the baseless liquidation of cultural organizations, including PEN Belarus itself, now exiled,” said Polina Sadovskaya, PEN America’s Eurasia program director.The report’s launch comes as the Lukashenka regime escalates its crackdown on independent voices in Belarus. See our full statement here and learn more about the report’s findingsSign PEN America’s petition in solidarity with PEN Belarus, which was shut down by the Belarusian government in August.Writer and Translator Arash Ganji Summoned to Serve Prison Sentence in Latest Assault on Free Expression in Iran

The summoning of Iranian writer and translator Arash Ganji to serve his 11-year prison sentence—handed down in connection with his translation of a book about a Kurdish-led uprising in northern Syria, and upheld on appeal in February 2021—is the latest in the ongoing assault of free expression and human rights in Iran. “Arash Ganji’s summons is based on an unjust sentencing and is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression and the exchange of ideas and information,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, director of Free Expression at Risk Programs at PEN America.Ganji is one of a number of IWA board members jailed for championing free expression, fostering solidarity among writers, and opposing censorship, including celebrated writers and 2021 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award honorees Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bajan, and Reza Khandan Mahabadi. See the full statement here, and sign the petition on behalf of our honorees.
Global Free Expression StoriesHas Interpol become the long arm of oppressive regimes?
International legal experts say there has been an alarming phenomenon of countries using the global police agency Interpol for political gain or revenge—targeting nationals abroad such as political rivals, critics, activists and refugees. Seeking to manipulate Interpol is a feature of transnational repression, in which countries extend their reach overseas to silence or target adversaries. The methods may differ, but they are intended to send a similarly menacing message in an era of global movement: You may leave your country, but you can still be punished. See PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel’s prior Foreign Policy piece on the sinister trend of governments going after dissidents far beyond their borders.

Myanmar frees political prisoners after ASEAN pressure, then re-arrests some
Myanmar’s military rulers have freed hundreds of political prisoners in recent days, including Aung San Suu Kyi’s party spokesman, although several were swiftly re-arrested, local media and a rights group said. The junta has released prisoners several times since the coup, which triggered a wave of protests that were quelled by the security forces. Burmese comedian Zarganar, a well-known critic of Myanmar’s past military governments, was also released late Monday, according to local media reports and a social media post by a close friend. Learn more about PEN America’s advocacy on behalf of Zarganar.

Top European court says Turkey should change law on insulting president
Europe’s top human rights court called on Turkey on Tuesday to change a law regarding insulting the president under which tens of thousands have been prosecuted, after ruling that a man’s detention under the law violated his freedom of expression.Thousands have been charged and sentenced over the crime of insulting Erdogan in the seven years since he moved from being prime minister to president.
REUTERSSpotlight: Pham Doan TrangPham Doan Trang is a Vietnamese blogger, author, and democracy activist who published A Handbook for Freedom Fighters. Trang resigned from the Liberal Publishing House in July 2020, citing security threats as its founder. She was detained on October 6, 2020 and charged with making anti-state propaganda, and is set to be tried on November 4th. 

In 2017, while under house arrest in Hanoi, she wrote Politics for the Common People, with the aim of spreading basic political knowledge to everyday people, especially young people involved in social and human rights activism. Below is a quote from Trang about her impetus for writing the book, as well as her experiences under house arrest. I wrote [Politics for the Common People] while under tight police supervision in Hanoi; I couldn’t do anything or go anywhere. I felt like I couldn’t breathe—literally…. Meanwhile, in some other location, their boss, sitting in an air-conditioned room, directed them to closely follow the ‘suspect’, research the suspect’s habits, her daily routine, her path to and from home, and how items are arranged in her house….

If I didn’t have my guitar by my side, I probably would’ve gone insane…. But, to me, all of that isn’t important; what’s important is that people read the book. The more people that read it, the better.

Learn more about Pham Doan Trang’s story and case here.Get More News, Events, and Updates from PEN America ›
Google walkout: global protests after sexual misconduct allegations |  Google | The Guardian
Majority say online harassment is a major problem; 41% have personally  experienced this, with more than half of this group experiencing more  severe behaviors | Pew Research Center
Who Is Pham Doan Trang? – The Vietnamese

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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