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Banning Books with Suzanne Nossel

interviews Aug 25, 2023


In this episode of Here’s Where It Gets Interesting, Sharon sits down with Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, to talk about some of the issues related to free expression and book banning. With more than 4,000 book bans at last count, this is an issue that has swept across the nation. Suzanne discusses what kind of book bans they see the most, and how veiled language about “protecting children” is used to remove books that contain narratives only a minority of people find uncomfortable. Books are more frequently labeled “pornographic” or “indecent" incorrectly, causing a chilling effect across classrooms, libraries, and resulting in some classic literature and health-related content to be removed from the shelves.

How do we as a society reconcile the framework and the value of the 1st Amendment in America, with restrictions on books and the censorship of diverse ideas? And what can the majority of parents do to fight for the freedom of information and expression in schools? 

Special thanks to our guest, Suzanne Nossel, for joining us today. 

Links to Full Episode:

About the Guest:

Suzanne Nossel currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of PEN America, the leading human rights and free expression organization, and is author of Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All. She also serves on the Meta Oversight Board. Her prior career spanned government service and leadership roles in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. She has served as the Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch and as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. During the first term of the Obama Administration, Nossel served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations. Nossel coined the term “Smart Power,” which was the title of a 2004 article she published in Foreign Affairs Magazine and later became the theme of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure in office. Nossel is a featured columnist for Foreign Policy magazine and has published op-eds in The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, and dozens of other outlets, as well as scholarly articles in Foreign Affairs, Dissent, Democracy, and other journals.


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