CPJ calls on NYPD to drop any charges against photojournalist Stephanie Keith

Washington, D.C., May 9, 2023—In response to news reports that freelance photojournalist Stephanie Keith was arrested while covering a protest in New York City on the evening of Monday, May 8, and authorities accused her of interfering with arrests, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:  “We strongly condemn the arrest of freelance photojournalist Stephanie Keith, who was doing her job and trying to document matters of public importance,” said Katherine Jacobsen, CPJ’s U.S. and Canada program coordinator. “New York authorities should drop any charges against Keith relating to yesterday’s arrest and show restraint in their crowd control tactics. Arresting reporters is a crude form of censorship and limits the public’s ability to access information about current events.”

Source: CPJ calls on NYPD to drop any charges against photojournalist Stephanie Keith – Committee to Protect Journalists

This action represents an abuse of press freedoms by law enforcement. Reporters should not have to put themselves in harm’s way from their own government to bring us the news. Keith’s arrest is the kind of thing I expect from Russia, China, and dictatorships like North Korea. I don’t expect it in the U.S.

One wonders where the police are getting their candidates for the police academy. I’m guessing it’s one drug cartel or another.





(WASHINGTON) — Today, PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel (pictured here) testified before the House Committee on Education & the Workforce’s hearing, “Diversity of Thought: Protecting Free Speech on College Campuses.”

Nossel testified that protecting free speech on college campuses is essential to preserving the academic freedom and institutional autonomy necessary for universities to continue to serve as incubators of democratic citizenship.

Suzanne Nossel“Students often lack awareness of the First Amendment or the precepts of academic freedom, sometimes believing that the best answer to noxious ideas is to drown them out, or to call on university authorities to shut them down,” Nossel said in her opening statement. “At PEN America we argue that the essential drive to render American campuses more diverse, equitable, and inclusive need not – and must not – come at the expense of robust, uncompromising protections for free speech and academic freedom.”

In response to Ranking Member Robert Scott’s (VA-03) question regarding enacted laws restricting what can be taught in schools, Nossel stated:

“A principle is not a principle if it is not applied to all equally. To cherry pick certain ideas, certain course materials, certain theories and say, ‘these are out of bounds,’ that’s the core of what the First Amendment protects against – viewpoint-based discrimination, the notion that the government would be listing out particular topics, subjects of discussion, aspects of curriculum, and saying they are out of bounds.

Read Nossel’s full remarks here and watch the full hearing video here.

My father and mother were both journalists and journalism teachers. This means I grew up respecting the first amendment and supporting it at all costs, most often against our own government, and–when schools are involved–parents who believe their own personal comfort levels should supersede a teacher’s lesson plans and assigned books.


Some of my best experiences were co-teaching journalism courses at Florida junior colleges with my father. I still learn from his textbooks even though technology has made the methods out of date.

New ‘Freedom to Learn’ op-ed series to appear in Washington Post’s ‘Made in History’ Section


Amid an unparalleled wave of attacks on academic freedom and public education nationwide – including the introduction of nearly 200 educational gag orders and the adoption of gag order policies in 19 states – PEN America, in partnership with the Washington Post’s Made by History section, is launching a new Freedom to Learn op-ed series.

Made by History is an independent editorial section of the Post featuring content from academic historians on current events. Edited and published by the Made by History editorial team and sponsored by PEN America, the Freedom to Learn series will provide historical context for the current assault on public education in the United States and elsewhere.

The Freedom to Learn series will consist of ten articles to be published in the summer and fall of 2022, beginning on August 15. The series will culminate with a public virtual event, sponsored by Lumina Foundation, featuring several contributors to the series.

“We’re excited to partner with the Washington Post’s Made by History to support high-quality, well-researched analysis by professional historians on the unprecedented threats to our education system,” said Jeremy C. Young, senior manager of free expression and education at PEN America. “Over the past five years, the Made By History team has developed a consistent track record of excellence in publishing insightful historical analysis of current trends. PEN America is thrilled to support their work and to help educate readers about the extraordinary challenges teachers are confronting today.”

“Made By History is dedicated to publishing rigorous historical analysis of U.S. current events and public debates to help the public understand the current events,” said Diana D’Amico Pawlewicz, a historian of education and an editor at Made By History. “Recent attacks on the classroom curriculum have historical roots, and we are excited to work with PEN America to bring rigorous scholarship by professional historians to shed light on the origins, implications, and consequences of the hyper-politicization of education.”

I support this action and hope it helps end attacks on learning my misguided citizens and groups. Perhaps the series should become a permanent part of the newspaper.


Malcolm R. Campbell’s contemporary fantasy e-book is free on Amazon between 8/4 and 8/8.


January 26, 2021 News Release from PEN America

(New York, NY) — Today PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection is releasing its Safety Guide for Artists, a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind guide available in English, French, and Spanish to help artists navigate, counter, and overcome threats and persecution from those seeking to silence their voices. In 2019, ARC—a project that connects imperiled artists worldwide with resources— had its highest number of caseload referrals since its founding in 2017 and has already broken that record in 2020, indicating the dire situation globally for artists and advocates.

The recommendations in the guide were informed by ARC’s experience connecting artists at risk to assistance as well as the vast knowledge of its global network of partners working to defend artistic freedom, whose research, campaigns, and collaborations provided instrumental information.

“This year, we’ve seen an explosion of protest movements worldwide, but also the desperate attempts by governments to unjustly and at times violently muzzle artistic freedom and dissent,” said Julie Trebault, director of ARC and one of the guide’s lead authors. “Artists have been leaders in the global movement for rights and justice, and are often targeted for arrest, detention, kidnapping and even murder. The potency of creative expression in kindling passions and changing minds is what makes regimes view artists as threatening. We hope that our guide will be a go-to resource for those facing danger and for the organizations worldwide doing their utmost to protect artistic freedom expression.”

“Facing risk can be an incredibly isolating and confusing experience,” says Mai Khoi, a dissident Vietnamese musician who had to flee her country after experiencing persecution related to her pro-democracy activism in 2018. “A resource like this guide, which can help artists understand their vulnerabilities, learn how to overcome them, and hear from artists who have been in similar situations, will surely help future artists at risk feel less alone and better-equipped to withstand pressures.”

In the past year, artists have helped lead protest movements in the U.S. following George Floyd’s murder, as well as in Chile, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Belarus, and elsewhere around the world. The rise in global activism has led to a simultaneous rise in the risks of speaking out. Freemuse’s State of Artistic Freedom report earlier this year counted over 700 incidents in which artists’ rights were violated in some 93 countries, including censorship, assault and harassment, arrest and imprisonment, kidnapping, torture, and even murder.

These realities have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as many governments have exploited the health crisis to crack down on dissent through national security and disinformation laws, while other governments fail to take proper steps to protect the health and livelihood of cultural workers. As part of the manual, ARC interviewed 13 leading artists to help inform the guide, surfacing the strategies they’ve used to counter repression, what resources exist, and what guidance or help others might need.

The guide offers robust recommendations to help protect artists and creative professionals who are being silenced for their work. Topics covered include:

  • Tactics governments and non-state agents use to attack artists
  • Methods of identifying and assessing risks
  • Digital security threats and best preventative practices
  • Strategies for developing a personal safety plan
  • Actions artists can take to gather evidence and ensure accountability
  • Overview of the field of support available to artists at risk, as well as a list of resources

“Over the past four years, we’ve seen that artists are at the forefront of the growing global movement to speak out: singing songs, penning slogans, painting murals, staging exhibitions and performances,” said PEN America’s Trebault. “The costs of such artistic freedom have risen dramatically. And while there are thousands of courageous artists who speak out despite the dangers, there are untold creative minds who live in fear, self-censored into silence.”

The guide breaks down how to manage threats from governments, but also from political groups, the police, and military, as well as the threats posed by extremist groups, fundamentalist communities, and even one’s neighbors or family. It comes as ARC itself has seen a skyrocketing caseload, with the vast majority of those accessing ARC’s network of supporters seeking help with relocation and emergency grants. 

The full guide is available here and a downloadable PDF is available here.