tv PEN Literary Gala CSPAN June 17, 2018 4:03pm-5:34pm EDT
today and watching on c-span. for more information on young americans foundation go to our website, the speaker will be taking photos, we ask tyou exit that way and line up. there is food in the kitchen if you would like to help yourself and i know you have to get back for your next session. you all have a copy of the book. we will do a photo line. if you want an extra book, ask our staff, we have some. thank you for joining us, we can't wait to see you again. [inaudible conversations] >> next on booktv, pen america's literary gala, it was founded in 1922 it is focused
on promoting free speech and expression in writing. stephen king, margaret atwood, and others made remarks. [inaudible conversations] ♪ >> one voice can start a trend. it can build a movement. it can change the world. one voice. it is powerful. it is persuasive. it is dangerous. that is why tyrants, authoritarians, and sensors
wants to keep some voices from being heard. at pen america, we know the power of one voice. and the importance of protecting every voice. because when one voice is silent, all voices are threatened. we are an organization of writers just as a free society must protect free expression of its writers, so too must writers safeguard the expression of all voices, important voices in the news media, provocative voices on social media, new vois in publishing, creative voices. voices of those who are denied power. voices silenced in prison. at pen america, we believe the freedom to write is how all voices are heard. we champion free writing.
we celebrate emerging writers. we defend those who speak truth to power. we are many voices. to protect your voice and every voice we must speak as one. we are all louder together. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, pen america's president, jennifer egan. [applause] >> thank you. i am jennifer egan, president of pen america. i would like to welcome all of you to the 2018 pen america
gala. [applause] >> the first time i came to this party in 2005, itike l waking up in ours. a literary event i had always fantasized, happened all the time in new york but took me 18 years of living here before i managed to fumble my way into one. i would like to recognize the people whose hard work has brought us together this evening and hold our applause to the end. our gala chair, roxanne donovan, sean kelly, the gala committee members, the entire team at simon & schuster. and our special benefactors, peter and pamela barbie, tony and jason gooddale could you stand so we can give you the rousing ha you deserve? [applause] >> next, i want to celebrate
the wealth of writing talent in this room. would all writers please stand. literary hosts, guests, trustees, waiters. [applause] >> thank you for taking time away from your work to be with us. this gala has a purpose beyond celebration of course, that is to fuel pen america's work. thanks to everyone here we have surpassed all previous records by bringing in $2.2 million. [applause] >> and we are not done yet.
i am supremely grateful to tonight's honorees, the legendary stephen king, a man who requires no introduction except when a person is exalted as morgan freeman is here to give us. [applause] >> and carolyn kroll reidy, publisher of mr. king, my lucky self, and my brilliant predecessor and close friend, andrew solomon, prent of pen america for the past three years who had a child after graduation tonight and could not be here. we are sorry, doris kearns goodwin's husband, dick, the renowned speechwriter and playwright, passed away last weekend. he will be deeply missed. the veryst penca dier was held in april 1922 at the coffeehouse club.
40 guests likely included willa cather, eugene o'neill and robert frost, who were among pen's first members. a letter was read aloud by john ballsworthy who beseeched the group, we writers are trustees for human nature. if we are narrow and prejudiced, we harm the human race and the better we know each other, the greater the chance for human happiness in a world not as yet too happy. 96 years later the world still is not as yet too happy. you would dare to hope fellowship among writers in itself could solve that problem, the statement gets one of the basic ideas behind the founding of pen, that the redemptive power of literary values can reach into the wider
world and improve it. what are our literary values? one is curiosity. a desire to move outside the frame of an individual perspective. literature was invented to let us climb inside the minds and lives of other human beings and the result is empathy, a willingness to share the feelings of another person. that common experience provides a third value, kinship. james baldwin said you think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. reading reminds us of the humanity we share across continents and centuries and civilizations. as a fiction writer and journalist i am more accustomed to the role of sptator, ideally close to invisible as possible. it helped me eavesdrop. what led me to accept the honor of this position is the belief the literary values, curiosity, empathy, kinship, are under
siege in our culture. pen america's work from fostering literary translation to mentoring and rewarding incarcerated writers, to the beloved voices festival is here toward enabling shared literary experience between people who are structurally separated. it would be hard to create pen america today. the broad optimism of its vision to celebrate literary expression and defend the freedoms that make it possible can sound almost quaint. the range of opinions among writers might prove too disparate together enough of us under one umbrella, but here we are. with our strength in numbers comes the credibility to foster genuine dialogue in moments of crisis and impasse. is pen america's president i hope to redouble these efforts. i believe they are the best hope of freeing ourselves from
the segregated echo chambers that have di't our national discourse. some of pen america's most inspired recent work has involved bridging a polarized national debate on campus free-speech including topics like safe spaces, this invitations and political correctness. after releasing a landmark report, we convened public events and closed-door sessions at universities bloodied by conflict about speech and sensitivity, middlebury, berkeley, the university of maryland and charlottesville. these difficult talks included pres.s and provost, faculty and students and testimonials pen received afterwards about for the power of genuine conversation to do whates and protests sometimes cannot. professor brad wilcox wrote i appreciate pen america's
commitment to include conservatives like me in this conversation. uc berkeley's vice chancellor rd. we mounted in california hall a little box with a sign that reads in case of free-speech emergency, break glass and call pen america. [applause] >> at our general meeting last march we hosted a panel of diverse perspectives on the me too movement, men, women, twentysomethings, fiftysomethings. conversation was heated, even fiery but always respectful and illuminating. in washington dc we opened an office to work with republicans and democrats to defend credible reporting and fight the spread of fraudulent news because freedom of the press and fact-based reporting are not a partisan issue.
[applause] >> as an organization, pen america must also be curious and open to other points of view and in february we were thrilled to join forces with the former pen center usa in los angeles which had broken away years ago out of frustration with the domineering provincialism of new york. i cannot imagine what they were talking about. i am delighted that one of our new trustees from la, is with us today along with several other guests. [applause] >> if the glamour quotient in the room seems higher than normal, that mystery is solved. now with the coasts united and members in all 50 states, we are truly national
organization, mobilizing members behind the midwest and the south and texas. if we are serious about using the power of language to unite us, we can't do it all from new york but what we can do in new york tonight is heed the words of virginia wolf, one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. so please enjoy the program and over the course of the night, eat, drink and get to know your neighbors. thank you. >> presenting the pen literary service award to stephen king, please welcome morgan freeman. [applause] >> thank you very much. my friend stephen king is a dauntless champion of the
written word. stephen's body of work, over 60 novels, have riveted, terrified and inspired generations of readers, made long train rides, bedtimes and rainy afternoons into unforgettable new worlds and into the depths of our own fears. but compelling, impossible to put on writing and indelible stories are one of the reasons pen america has chosen to honor stephen tonight. stephen king is the embodiment of three threads at the core of pen america. the writer, humanitarian, the writer as conduit to bring unseen and unheard human experiences to life, the writer and activist using the power of
the pen to shape the world. stephen's humanitarianism, boundless generosity, and profound humility. i will mention but one area close to the heart of the literary community gathered in this room. nearly 20 years ago stephen was struck by a car during a daily walk and couldn't write for appear go of about ten months. shortly thereafter, a close friend of his side his career as an audio reader ended after a head injury. jarred by the plate of creative individuals stymied and silenced by injury, stephen founded the haven foundation to assist freelance artists who face personal misfortune. the haven foundation is a
long-standing supporter of the pen america writers emergency fund which assists authors who have fallen on hard times, those who need surgery or therapy or prosthetic limbs, help with a rent check, or an attorney's fee on an asylum application. all the assistance is strictly anonymous. this year thanks to stephen king's haven foundation, pen america got back to work right after the hurricanes in puerto rico. through his writing, stephen king is an emissary who brings often remote stories, identities and experiences into focus. when i first led the scripts of the shawshank redemption, inspired by stephen king's book, i would be willing to play any part.
i did. and i would have stephen brought compassion and humanity to the forgotten in prison, getting readers and audien all over the world invested in their future and their freedom. the work touches upon so much of what pen america stands for, encouraging the incarcerated to tell their own stories through pen america's prison writing program and the pen prison writing awards. the only awards anywhere that recognize the best writing from the inside. go ahead. [applause] >> defend to get access to folks in prison as pen america has been in new york state, new jersey and across the country through its right to read campaign, is a cause embodied
in the prison librarian shawshank, a place of refuge, wonder and spiritual escape. stephen's portrayal of the yearning for human freedom in shawshank was so potent that when a chinese dissident managed a daring prison break a few years back, one of the first things beijing authorities did was ban the very word shawshank on social media and internet searches. they knew that stephen king's words and story had the force to inspire, a power they were determined to crush. finally, hardly leased, the writer is activist. it was among pen america's darkest hours when he ran's supreme leader declared a fast
one on author salman rushdie, with writing firebombings by a dictator, bookstores were fearful for the safety of their employees and customers so they began pulling the satanic versus from their shelves. stephe king called up the head of a chain of stores and gave him an ultimatum. you don't sell the satanic versus you don't k cell stephe king. [applause] >> of course the store reversed course. you can't intimidate, you can't let intimidation stop books, king said. it is as basic as that.
a fierce opponent of censorship, he is spoken about the dangers of pulling books from the shelves of schools and libraries and in an age of new assaults on the press and truth, stephen has taking his public platform and transformed it into a vehicle of unfiltered dissent. stephen calls it like he sees it and has become a clarion voice of unvarnished, sometimes harsh truths. some people can't take it. would rather not hear the truth. when donald trump -- [laughter] -- backed to block stephen king on twitter, stephen didn't cow for a moment, came right back to the pres. declaring him
blocked from seeing stephen king's next film. stephen is a champion and personal exemplar of what pen america stands for. the freedom to write. thank you, stephen, for your boundless contributions to writers, to readers and to all of us who believe fear can hold you prisoner, but hope can set you free. [applause] >> i am honored, honored to stand here tonight to present the pen america literary service award to my friend,
stephen king. [applause] [applause] >> that is the best introduction i ever had and probably the best one i will ever get. before i go on, i have to tell you one little story. my wife and i live happily in florida. we turned 65 and it is the law. my wife does the big shopping. she is here tonight, she is my inspiration, tabitha king. [applause]
>> she does the big shopping. she doesn't trust me to do that but if we are out of toilet paper or something she will send me to the store. i was in publix one day, came around the corner of the aisle and there was a woman coming the other way, you could tell she was a florida resident because she had the dark skin and golf hat and she was wearing one of those writer things and she looked at me and she said i know who you are. i said i know who i am too. she said you write those scary books, like the pet cemetery book. some people like those books. some people think you can do what you want but i like uplifting things like that shawshank redemption. and i said i wrote that. she said no you didn't.
anyway, it is a wonderful award and i went to thank morgan freema and all the honorees tonight for their bravery in defense of honest journalism. [applause] >> carolyn kroll reidy from my publishing company for her support and nancy graham who entered all my books, she told me not to mention them but i am surrounded by good women at simon & schuster who helped me. [applause] >> who helped me to mind my business. carolyn kroll reidy is one, and graham is another, susan waldo is here, roz lapel, they have
all helped to make me a better person. [applause] >> that goes double for my wife. i especially want to thank young people from marjorie stoneman douglas high school. [applause] >> for their fierce advocacy of hard work in the wake of yet another horrific school shooting. not even the most recent now. they have stood up admirably to the fight uber ration of this country of gun extremists who seem to feel the occasional blood sacrifice is acceptable in defense of the second amendment that was written at a time when weapons such as the ar 15 and the bushmaster xm 15 did not exist. so i feel i am an excellent company here tonight. [applause]
>> i'm just a guy who has loved books since childhood. when the big green bookmobile appeared in my little main town once or twice a month, bringing adventure, mystery, horror, amusement and news of the outside world, i met my wife in a library. take it from me, there is no better basis than books when it comes to a long marriage. we have been together almost 50 years. [applause] >> i have been extremely well rewarded along the way and extremely lucky. somewhere in the neighborhood of 800,000 books are published in america each year just in america and very few men and women can earn a living from their work as writers was the percentage of readers is relatively small compared to
the population as a whole. just think for a mine of all the people you see on the streets every day staring at their phones as they walk down the street or with earbuds in their ear and how few of them are staring at a printed page instead. yet reading is powerful. from my earliest days of working as a high school teacher i have been telling kids that those who read can learn to write and those who can do both will eventually succeed in the world. readers learn to be fair and writers learn to think. they are the crucial counterweight to those that are closed minded and mean-spirited. too many of those are currently in positions of power. eir verty is best expressed in the dead zone known as twitter where clear thinking and kindness is replaced by schoolyard taunts, not to mention bad spelling and bad grammar.
[laughter] [applause] >> my wife and i believe, because we are hopeful people, that acting locally, eventually, creates change globally. we give mostly in our own state to small-town libraries. we support free expression because without it the purveyors of fake news, those angry and fearful false prophets will be believed too much by too many. we raised three children, two of whom are here tonight, four grandchildren, one of whom is here tonight, we urged them all to read banned books because i have said this over and over and over again, when the people in charge don't want you to know, that is what you have to find out. [applause]
>> i don't like to talk much about what we do in the way of philanthropy. i don't even like the word which sounds to me like it has to do with collecting stamps. i was raised methodist and two of the biblical commands i grew up with were prey in the closet, not industry, let not your right hand know what your left hand is doing. even being there feels not wrong exactly because this is the second time i had a chance to wear this monkey suit, you know? and i feel like a dude. anyway, being here doesn't feel wrong exactly but lacking humility, and giving should be humble. at the same time it is important to serve as an example, to be able to say i am doing this because it is right and it is important. if you feel the same way, and because you're here tonight i'm
>> on december 12th, they were working and received a call, to meet -- >> we waited outside for this. up to a few hours they haven't come out so he looked for them and they were not there anymore. >> it was just one line, had been arrested. >> [speaking in native tongue] >> i have been near the border with bangladesh. there has been an exodus of minority groups, nearly 700,000
have been forced out, then started reporting on one very specific case, the masker of ten men and how they have been rounded up by the military and essentially summarily executed. [crying] >> we chose them because of their courage in digging out the truth about the story the me on our government wants to suppress. these are facts they don't want known. and support the story from all of its angles. >> it sends a bad signal that doing legitimate journalism is a crime. at reuters we have trust principles that hold us to independence, integrity and
freedom from bias. >> [speaking in native tongue] >> any time -- [speaking in native tongue] [speaking in native tongue] >> it is very moving to me to think about what it must be like for them to be in prison, separated from their families, not able to do their work. it is crushing to imagine that. >> entirely committed, we believe they should be freed
from prison, they have done nothing wrong and time for them to be out there reporting again. >> 38 of 42 writers and journalists honored by this award have been freed an average of 18 months and it part it is part of the publicity that amounts because of the award. [speaking in native tongue] [speaking in native tongue]
>> please welcome margaret atwood. [applause] >> when democracy is in retreat, the first thing authoritarians do is silence those who are telling stories they dislike. journalists wallone and jazzoh are in a country with a long record of suppressing independent voices, history that appears to be hard to leave behind. we may comfort ourselves by leaving this concert that is this only happens in distant countries like myanmar but the playbook long documented in places like russia, china and
iran is now going viral. the number of journalists jailed worldwide has recently hit an all-time high. many journalists are not even jailed, they are simply murdered. and putting reporters in prison, the tactics of the current administration are dangerous, attacking and discrediting reporters by name, threatening to punish unfavorable coverage, trying to convince the public that reputable and accountable news outlets cannot be trusted and branding certain news organizations as the enemies of the american people. the us administration is leading by example. fake news is now in
international knee-jerk response by strongmen and dictators seeking to discredit accurate reporting and valid criticism and destroy democracy in the process. the pen organizations in america, the uk and canada have traditionally championed persecuted writers in faraway places like miramar, the home of these 2 reporters. that work has become ever more important as democracies have come under attack around the world. and right here in the united stat, pen america redoubled its energies at home, the systematic effort to drive a rift to access to knowledge and
citizens of a country has a familiar ring to this dystopian novelist. [applause] >> the result that news organizations have displayed is admirable, they are reporting with gusto and their audiences have grown but according to them, nearly half the country no longer trust much of what they say or write. these people do not believe the other source of news, th don't know what to believe. authoritarians love the state of affairs, where there is no believe there is likely to believe no opposition. when i wrote the handmaid's tale i made sure nothing went
into it that had not come from somewhere in history. journalists, historians and other nonfiction writers as my source. when you publish such a novel, you hope your works will remind people that it can't happen here has simply never been true. [applause] >> as aldus huxley said in his 1965 introduction to the radio version of brave new world, eternal vigilance, eternal vigilance is not only the price of liberty, eternal vigilance is the price of human decency. please join pen america in demanding the freedom of the
two journalists imprisoned in myanmar and defending the sanctity of truth and the role of the press right herin the united states. [applause] >> and now a few words from the two journalists themselves that i have been given to read on their behalf. we are now in insane prison just because we covered the news. we don't have a desk to write on, the truth about what happened is important for our country. without the truth we can never solve our country's problems. that goes for every country. we would like to ask the
government where is the truth, where is democracy and freedom, and why those found guilty of murder get 10 years while we journalists who exposed the murder face 14 years in prison, do you think that is fair? we only did our work as reporters. we went people to understand we never betrayed the country. the government can arrest us like this, waste our time in the court for many days, and stop us from being able to write news, we want to tell them right here that they can never hide the truth. we, journalists, will find the truth even though they are sending us to prison. we are deeply humbled to receive this award.
unfortunately, we will not be able to attend the event because we are here at court facing a very long protest was we have already been here for nearly half a year and we face up to 14 years in prison. we never did anything wrong. we were simply doing our jobs. we never violated any journalistic ethics, we will not lose hope and face the proceedings as best we can. we do believe that the truth will bring justice to us. the news needs to be written and expressed openly in our country and right now we can't report it. we are grateful for the support of pen america, reuters and all the others working on our behalf to help us regain our freedom. the award is an encouragement we have the backing of people from around the world who love the freedom of the press and democratic values.
spotlight on negative who was serving the first year of an 18 year prison sentence neco be a. his crime was being a journalist critical of the government. in february of this year we jubilantly celebrated the release and immediately sought a visa so he could reunite with his friend and son in the united states. but weeks later, he was rearrested, a private journalists and bloggers come he was thrown into a 5 x 8 m cell with 200 other prisoners. and mobilized our networks to demand his release and tonight he is free and better yet, he is with us in this room.
is the cause of freedom throughout the world. at this point, i would like to express solidarity with the chinese people who despite thousands of years of history have yet to taste freedom. i say to the chinese people you too shall be free one day and you too shall enjoy the freedom to write. [applause] >> reporter: it is only a question of time. one of the things i distinctly remember from my reading in prison is what i focus on. i shall not allow athens, proclaimed aristotle, to commit a crime for the second time.
and yet the athenians had committed a crime against philosophy by executing socrates and repeated by killing aristotle. it was against freedom of expression. 2000 years later, one would have thought the world would have learned from the mistake of t athenians and moved on but alas, this is not been the case. we live in the age of paradox. on the one hand we have countries, the first amendment, freedom of expression is taken for granted. and ethiopia, my country, freedom to express oneself without restraint, without reprisal is still an elusive idea still distant as the
stars. i ask whether those who are free have an obligation toward those of us who are not free. i say they do. this obligation is not legal but voluntary. an coulde phraus. the who e free should help those who areto free themselves. freedom is a universal urge. all humans irrespective of their differences, whether those differences should be religious or anything else. the prizes i have received from pen america, i see the solidarity of the free to those of us who are not free. i see the strength of our common humanity over our differences, our common destiny which is freedom for all humanity. thank you, pen america. your support has helped me to
sustain during difficult times and the thought of your continued support keeps me going. we are waging the good sites. this fight must be thought to the very end until all humanity is free from tyranny. thank you. [applause] ♪ >> ladies and gentlemen, jonathan karp, president of simon & schuster adult publishing on behalf of of doris kearns goodwin. >> thank you. [applause] >> doris kearns goodwin couldn't be here but she was kind and generous enough to write this introduction which i now would like to read to you. what a special honor for me to
introduce carolyn kroll reidy, my longtime publisher at simon & schuster, my good friend at this year's pen america honoree. the story of carolyn's love affair witbos gins with the image of a little girl holding a flashlight under the covers so she could read her favorite books long past the time she was supposed to be asleep, into the early hours of the morning. her love affair deepened in college and graduate school where she studied english literature on her way to obtaining a phd and becoming an english professor. little could she have realized or imagined the focus of her dissertation, the complex relationship between the writer and the reader and the high victorian novel would come to fruition from the height of the publishing industry where in a profoundly personal way she would help thousands of writers across all genres to bridge the magical space between the act
of writing and the act of reading. when her husband stephen came to columbia business school, carolyn left the phd program although she did eventually finish her dissertation and on the strength of her spectacular ability to type xc words a minute, secured entry-level job in publishing where through a meandering series of physicians who covered all aspects of the business, she found her calling. carolyn said it was through study of victorian classics that she came to understand the qualities that underpin successful books of all kinds. her goal, she repeatedly said, is to make each book her company publishes great on its own terms and then to find the largest possible audience for that book. evidence indicates she has done
just that thousands of times over the course of her career, whether for enduring prize-winning titles or popular books of the moment. relentless curiosity is at the heart of her success. on her vacations, a dozen bound manuscripts, invariably calling or sending a note to the author and i can testify after quite a few of those calls that she is a reader of great insight and perception. i can still remember the conversation we had about franklin and eleanor roosevelt when she read no ordinary times, she talked about their complicated marriages if she too had known them over the years, the greatest tribute a reader can give to a writer. her phone call after reading my memoir about growing up in love with the brododgokn s touched a more personal court. she zeroed in on the role books had played in my relationship with my mother who had only an eighth-grade education but who read books in every spare
moment she could find. she was essentially housebound and died when i turned 15, books and storytelling had already become the anchor of my life. when carolyn finished reading team of rivals books were at the center of our conversation. we talked about the deep hunger for reading that led abraham lincoln to scour the countryside to borrow books and when he found a copy of shakespeare, esop's fables or the king james he was so excited that he couldn't keep the sweep. the same sense of excitement carolyn radiates when she helps with the birth of a new young writer or savers the continuing success of one of her veteran authors. the publishing industry has experienced profound changes in the decades carolyn kroll reidy has served as president and ceo of simon & schuster. she led the company through the
worst recession since the great depression, navigated the digital revolution, the birth of social media and the ever increasing competition for readers attention that makes have the 800 page books like mine and even greater challenge. through it all, my editor told me, carolyn kroll reidy has remained optimistic about the future of publishing, ever ready to experiment and maintaining a steady hand. thank god carolyn kroll reidy is here is a common refrain among the entire simon & schuster family. as it is for all of us associated with the polishing industry which she has served many years.edication for so can the curiosity of a little girl holding a flashlight, illuminating the books under the blankets, last a lifetime? carolyn kroll reidy is proof that it can and along the way for contagious curiosity and
>> thank you for sitting with us to support this important work of pen america and i want to thank the staff and everyone at simon & schuster who has work so hart to make this evening success and thanks to stephen king. it has been a singular honor for rivener and simon & schuster to be business-er. he has kept us working to keep up with his vast creativity and energy. for the lifetime work and generosity to other artists and authors, stephen is richly deserving of tonight's honor. [applause] and to moggan froman for --
morgan froman for being part of the gets stills. i'm honored to receive his honor which has fought so valiantly and effectively for human rights and the right of free speech and expression and promoting lit tour and he right to publish in so many places around the world. for those of us dedicated to introducing the work of writers to the world, it is repugnant when someone, anyone, whether it is the general public, media pundits, local school boards, or the government, tries to stop us from publishing, to dictate who were what we can publish, or to limit who can purchase or read our books, even worse, of course, our punitive actions against a writer or journalist. and while it is true that the public square has always been a noisy and unruly place, the fact
is we are living in a time when the issue of free speech is incredibly fraught, and more complicate than ever, as we grapple not only with the political currents of our time but also with the explosive growth and ubiquity of powerful social media platforms and their effect on human interaction and communications. in today's world, when arguments or debates are taking place at lightning speed or forums where nuance is iossible or, worse, not south -- south, we are witness to the crush of high-minded crowd that seek only to affirm their rightness. in too many instances, we have ceded any effort toward a rational, higher level disscours, that, elucidate ratherhante pas our
dances. we have ceased to evaluate idea or exchange ideas and have watched as discussion is hijacked into what is essentially phony debate over free speech, the political sideshow that diverts us from the original topics. opinions differ and opinions matter, and they have the ability to spark genuine debate about issues and ideas of real substance, discussions that can help in the words of pen, to quote bridge divisions that's hinder our mutual understanding on consensus issues and i would t.h.a.a.d. the writers, journalists and publishes that consult to much of pen america and its membership are ulikely positioned to provide the outlets where those discussions can happen and to add critical insight and perspective of a highest level. it is thus all the more
important to reassert our core beliefs that free speech, the actual discussion and debate of ideas, ideas that can be good or bad, progressive ore regressive, new on antiquated, revolutionary or status quo, mild or offensive, have-backed or fully cooked and yes, liberal or conservative, is and needs to remain the right of every citizen in our society, along with our obligation to protect that speech. [applause] when. comes to the right of unfettered discourse we cannot and should not accept dissense quashing tierney from any side of the political equation, yes, under 0
country, too many voices are marginalized or powerless, and through our choices of what to publish we have the ability and the obligation to help change that. it would be very easy to publish only those voices and perspectives with which we identify or feel comrtle i have always felt that it is our responsibility as publishers to step outside our comfort zone and engage with different opinions of view and to publish for the many different audiences that comprise our nation's readership. [applause] in the words of the plate brilliant --er, peter mayer, quote, trouble is the heart -- wait until you hear what he said -- trouble is the heart of what we do in the sense that
worthwhile books trouble or complacency, sharpening our mines and sensees, some are even dangerous and they, too must be published, end quote. [applause] but for all the noise, the demonization of the media, the bellicose threats to press freedom, the outrage over politically incorrect speech and the backlash against the politically correct, tend of the day, we are fortunate to live in a nation where the fir amendment has so long protected our right to expression. and our presence here tonight signifies we do not take and cannot take this right for granted. as we watch with alarm the rise of author tearans, autocrats and strong men in so many nations around the world, where a free media and a genuine opposition party are often the first
casualties, our long-standing arguments about the limits of free speech as fierce and aggravating as the sometimes may be, provide a sobering reminder of the plight of many of our colleagues, i writers, journalist is, publishers and free thinks, in so many other nations. we are in a unique position in that we have the freedom and place from which we can advocate as pen america unceasingly does, on behalf of others who are not so fortunate. tonight wed hear the plight of reuters reporters arrested for exposing a massacre in a village and still incarcerated. they have sacrificed more than most of us can even imagine to speak truth to power. i applaud and thank pen america for the constant efforts to set them and so many others free, and to shine a light in those dark corners of the world where
truth, honesty and free expression are so brutally suppressed. [applause] and in a few moments, we'll honor student activist, cameron cass city, samantha fuentes, and zion kelly. their courage, bravery and determination to speak out in the january -- aftermath of the horrific event inside their school, place they should be safe harbors and sank wears for learning, is a bght, shining example and instation to us -- inspiration to us all. thank you again for'ing here tonight.
>> ladies and gentlemen, the chief officer. >> jenny was saying earlier, pen america's preferred discourse leverages literature to unleash empathy and binding to hearts, minds, communities, and societies. that is what we strive for and what wee o but literary life and life in general done always live up to the ideals and the pen charter. dialogue, reason, and compassion can come up short. as a student of marjorie stoneman douglas high school in parkland reminded us, with their rallying cry, there can come a time to call b.s. [applause] now, it's not something you do lightly, especially not in an
august venue like this and with my mother here for the first time, somewhere out there, but when the government was caught lying, the students of parkland felt compelled to call it out. these students are not alone. when an organization's life blood is truth and facts, we cannot mince words when it comes to falsehood. so, when our president professes to respect press freedom, but denigrates the media, cries fake news and thens to withdraw prescreen den shalls for coverage he dislikes we call b.s. [applause] and it's not just the government. wrap an avowed white nationalist dons the mantle of free speech to intimidate others and to silence, we call b.s.
when a broadcast congress groom lat claims to be objective and then force-feedded its anchors a script that discredited credible ws sources, we call b.s. now, someeople say a writer's organization shouldn't be political. that is a long-standing debate at pen. exactly 80 years ago, pen met in prague as the nazis swallowed the land. pen sent president french novelist address sed skeptics, and association off writers does not wish to engage in politics, he said, but we cannot stand idly by when the most basic individual rights are being threatened. brecht sent a telegram with a single sentence: fight and
those who dither will fight with you. thomas mondes came to madison square garden and proclaimed it was too late for government to save the peace. they have lost too many opportunities, now it is the people's turn. in the days after their classmates were shot dead, when washington, dc offered only thoughts and prayers, the students of parkland, florida, echoed thomas mond, the lawmakers have lost too many opportunities, now it is the people's turn. they sent shock waves through the self-righteous, embarrassed the ewith taters and made politicians pay for their unsavory patronage. they decided to fight and, as breck for told, those who diggerred joined the fight with them.
they took to tv studios, streets, school areas, state houses, the massachusetts in washington and are leading the charge to voting booth in november. their movement is not about one student, one family, one school or one state. the people of parkland join with teens of all races, ethnicities and ideologies, in trenton, chicago, detroit, and washington, dc, one day, they sat in calculus class and drama club i. met sam fuentes and she said she waitressed her way through ago. they were dodsle and day dreaming like any other high school student but weeked laid they're scored passage of a historic new florida gun control law and led the largest student protest in american history. [applause]
if that driving potency lay within each of them, we must ask what potential lies within each of us. [applause] at a time when democracy around the world is in retreat, and our trusted policy stages are warning of an asend accident authoritarianum, it shouldn't take a gunshot to shatter our sense of come my send si. -- complacency. free expression is not just an absence of government constraint. it's a clamor opinions, visions, insights and demands, row bust marketplace for ideas depends on those willing to raise a ruckus. for free expression, amid controversy,isn't actually cost-free. these young activists have been called paid actors, endure
secure his accusations, visit theolic insults and death threats. trolling and scare tactics can feel especially menacing when they come from the gun lobby. free expression courage in our era can mean risking your privacy, your reputation, and even your life, for what you believe. now, please joine in watching a short profile of courage and free expression. >> active shooter situation in south florida. coming in, a lot of information. >> praying and crying and i don't know how we -- >> the fact we're here right now shows this is nothing like anything we have ever seen before. this about change [inaudible] [cheering] >> enough is enough!
>> enough is enough. [chanting] [cheering] >> i'm here to represent the hundreds of thousands of students who live in everyday -- who live every day in constant paranoia and inner fear of their way to and from school. >> simple and ambitions are unbeatable. let's then keep guns out of the he hands of the wrong people and keep them in the hand offered the safe and reasonable. >> kid need to organize because this is the moment. this is exactly what rate of speed in the civil rights movementment they were 18, 19, 20 years old, young people, who said, we have had enough. >> senator rube, you're can you tell me right now you will not accept a single donation from the nra? [cheering]
that i should not be standing here. i should not have had to call my friends after the shooting, samantha should not have had to pull shrapnel out of our body and cy ronys brother should not have been taken from us. we should not by accepting the award and should not be standing in front of you but alas we're here and it us an honor to accept this ward from tony and james, the freedom of expression of courage award on behalf of many, many others, only a few of whom are standing here this evening. courage implies a certain course of action is being taken voluntarily up i've been told it takes courage to speak up, particularly as what used to be thought of as the powerless youth and maybe to a certain extent that's true and i guess that is the reason that pen has decided to honor the students with this award. however the parkland, florida, march for our live students who i'm here to represent are reacting to one horrific track
incident which happened in our otherwise safe and cozy suburban environment. there's a good chance if this type of violence visit outfields in our so-called safe community daily i would stay inside. i'd like to mention there was a tragedy in santa fe, texas, and that we send our love and regards to the families and are ready to be there for them as they may need us, but until then, are allowing them to mourn as they need to encouraging the media to cover the tragedy but to allow them the space they need to heal. we originally said, never again, and knowing damn well there would be more schoolotings before we got the politicians to do anything about it. brave houston police chief called out the cam place sent nra funded politician its by name. that's courage. . [applause] >> further, their communicates across our country in which deadly shootings occur not just
once in a while and not only daily but literally through the day, every day, yet kids in those communities voluntarily walk out the door to do the things the rest of us take for grandded, like going to school, to the park or just being with friends. they and their parents have little guarantee they will ever seen one another alive again. every single day. those examples, ladies and gentlemen, are real courage. and i accept this award not only on behalf of miss and my friends but especially on behalf of the kids and adults who are standing up to the nra whose actions and voices inspire me every single day. please support -- [applause] please support our movement, however you can, and expect many announcement inside he near future as to what is next for us. we will grow weary, have good days and bad, but it is in standing alongside those who battled the violence every dave that with give us the drive and courage and energy to finish
this battling and we will succeed and before i step away nored to be standing alongside these incredibly courageous people. if i had their courage i would be -- i don't know what to say. being alongside sam and zion is one of the greatest honors anyone can receive. thank you. [applause] >> good evening. it is beautiful day in new york city. the pen america -- i'm so honored to be part of this. i i have been alive for 18 years new and being a student in public school has -- i've learned a whole lot of insting things but none of these lessons could have prepared me for the moment like this. education is the very foundation
no all sees ask i'm an avid believer that anything can be chris if motivation and education. unfortunately we live in the world where most people look both of these essential elements. nowdays people are chasing dreams that fill their wallets instead of their hearts. people are so focused on being better than each other instead of bettering each oomph now days people are killing each other, in the numbers are staggering every day but instead of proposing a solution, we propose profits. it seems that doing the right thing is knock but a light suggestion. i suppose i won this award because i'm doing the right thing and prioritizing people's lives over guns is a simple and straightforward cause. but in a world that is grown so chaotic and convoluted -- >> we love you! [applause]
[applause] >> it takes courage to speak out and share your story the world after experiencing so much trauma. it takes courage for the stoneman douglas students to share and uplift -- so they're they platform and uplift many voices. immigrant takes courage to become a leader. courage is something that all of us on stage have displayed.
i think that -- [applause] thank you. one thing that is very important to me is just telling my truth. i don't feel safe traveling to and from school in my city, washington, dc, because of the legal guns. i it's important to tell this part of the story also. if you want change to happen we have to be willing to be courageous. i understand this and i turn my agony into action. i knew that it had to take a stance because just like five of the students, like me, we all live in fear. my brother was shot and killed on september 20, 2017. he was walking home from a mentoring program we are involved in. this loss is devastating and i acknowledge my brother was a great burn and a student leader
with big dreams. he did not deserve to die this way. and no one does. so to honor my brother, and fight for change in his remembrance. we all fight for change by expressing ourselves freely and using the power of our voices to speak up, be brave, and be courageous, thank you for hearing us. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome margaret attwood back to the stage.
>> mom, i ain't raised no bitch. i suppose i won this award because i'm doing the right thing. i'm prioritizing people's lives over guns is a simple and straightforward cause but 0 ward that groans so chaotic and convoluted aappear to be the bad guy. >> never! >> this is for the good guys. thank you to much for believing in me but not just me, thank you for believing that together we can correct the moral and fundamental problems in this country. thank you for all those students who walked out of school, those who are arrested for lobbying for change, thank you for those who marched longside with me, thank you for those lawmakers who finally opening their eyes and wanting to address problems that citizen are actually concern with and thank you, pen, for giving me this award.
[applause] >> even though everywhere i go i'm like a walking splash zone, and, like, -- welcome to seaworld, i guess. more than anything i want to thank my mom, being a mother is no easy task. [applause] and being the best mom is almost unachievable but my mom takes the cake. my mother is my inspiration in being a fierce latino woman who doesn't take no for an answer 'without all of these element us would not be standing where i'm standing right now, without all these element its would not be standing at all. last but not certainly --
certainly not least, unfortunately so, santa fe high school, you are in my hearts. i know what it feels like to lose the one yo love right in front of your i'd. the rage, the sadness, the anguish, and the fear. my arms are open for you to r you.e you, but also to fight stay beautiful and good night. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome margaret atwood back to the stage. ...
[cheers and applause] >> my own mother used to say get back on the horse, she was a horseback rider. you get back on, you go on. let that be an example to all of you writers who just had a bad review. [applause] >> thank you all for joining pen america this evening. before we go to desert i went to ask you to take a special action. hold out the card at the
lectern. family members will bring our messages of support back to myanmar. leave the cards at your tables to write to this journalist. tell them that they are not alone. take a picture of -- let's see. tell them we salute their determination to bring the truth to light, that we will continue to fight until they are out of prison, at home and back to work. it is going to be hard for some of you. take a selfy. a thing you do with the phone. you don't know how to do that? ask somebody younger. take a selfy holding your card and post it, going to have to
explain this. social media. to let everyone know that you are part of pen america's efforts to get these journalists the freedom to write. when you're done, when you leave the room, pen america will collect your cards and see that they get to myanmar. >> ladies and gentlemen, that concludes this evening's program. please take a selfy. we invite you to return to the roosevelt rotunda for dessert and coffee. ♪
>> booktv covers many book award ceremonies throughout the year, the national book awards, national critics circle awards, the guggenheim lehrman prize in military history and others. you can watch all of them online. simply type book award in the search bar on the top of the page. >> you are watching booktv on c-span2, television for serious readers. we are here in new york city and one of the things we like to do is preview some of the books coming out this fall. want to