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Speaker Series: Suzanne Nossel

July 30, 2020 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm


The Library Society welcomes CEO of PEN America, Suzanne Nossel to discuss her new book, Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech For All in a digital ZOOM format event. A vital, necessary playbook for navigating and defending free speech today, Dare To Speak provides a pathway for promoting free expression while also cultivating a more inclusive public culture.While this digital event is free and open to the public, an RSVP is required. All respondents will receive a link and password to the ZOOM lecture on the day of the event. Click on the RSVP Now button to reserve your space.

“A must read.”—Margaret Atwood

Online trolls and fascist chat groups. Controversies over campus lectures. Cancel culture versus censorship. The daily hazards and debates surrounding free speech dominate headlines and fuel social media storms. In an era where one tweet can launch—or end—your career, and where free speech is often invoked as a principle but rarely understood, learning to maneuver the fast-changing, treacherous landscape of public discourse has never been more urgent.

In Dare To Speak, Suzanne Nossel, a leading voice in support of free expression, delivers a vital, necessary guide to maintaining democratic debate that is open, free-wheeling but at the same time respectful of the rich diversity of backgrounds and opinions in a changing country. Centered on practical principles, Nossel’s primer equips readers with the tools needed to speak one’s mind in today’s diverse, digitized, and highly-divided society without resorting to curbs on free expression.

At a time when free speech is often pitted against other progressive axioms—namely diversity and equality—Dare To Speak presents a clear-eyed argument that the drive to create a more inclusive society need not, and must not, compromise robust protections for free speech. Nossel provides concrete guidance on how to reconcile these two sets of core values within universities, on social media, and in daily life. She advises readers how to:

  • Use language conscientiously without self-censoring ideas;
  • Defend the right to express unpopular views;
  • And protest without silencing speech.

Nossel warns against the increasingly fashionable embrace of expanded government and corporate controls over speech, warning that such strictures can reinforce the marginalization of lesser-heard voices. She argues that creating an open market of ideas demands aggressive steps to remedy exclusion and ensure equal participation.

Replete with insightful arguments, colorful examples, and salient advice, Dare To Speak brings much-needed clarity and guidance to this pressing—and often misunderstood—debate.

Suzanne Nossel​ is Chief Executive Officer at PEN America. ​Prior to joining PEN America, she served as the Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch and as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. She has served in the Obama Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, leading US engagement in the UN and multilateral institutions on human right issues, and in the Clinton Administration as Deputy to the US Ambassador for UN Management and Reform. 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. She is a featured columnist for ​Foreign Policy​ magazine and has published op-eds in ​The New York Times, Washington Post, ​and ​LA Times​, as well as scholarly articles in ​Foreign Affairs, Dissent, ​and ​Democracy​, among others. Nossel serves on the Board of Directors of the Tides Foundation. She is a former senior fellow at the Century Foundation, the Center for American Progress, and the Council on Foreign Relations. Nossel is a magna cum laude graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School.


July 30, 2020
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm