October 25, 2023
The Authors Guild vehemently denounces censorship and is alarmed by recent attempts to cancel events and suppress voices.
During these volatile times, it is imperative that we recognize the importance of free speech and the vital role writers play in enriching our perspectives. Literature bears witness to historical complexity. It plays a pivotal part in deepening our understanding of events. Limiting free expression sets a dangerous precedent. It serves to sow discord and division. History has shown that it is a slippery slope from censorship and cancellation to the erosion of other civil liberties. This is why at the Authors Guild, our core principles recognize that “a healthy democracy requires vigorous literary debate, a diversity of ideas, and a tolerance for discourse that some find offensive or challenging.”
Books, at their best, serve as messengers to build understanding, empathy, and connection. Some of the authors who have faced cancellations, including our own members such as Viet Thanh Nguyen and Min-Jin Lee, have written movingly and memorably about the ripple effects of war. We need their voices now more than ever. We also need upstanding literary citizens such as Bernard Schwartz who, in refusing to cancel events, demonstrate a commitment to free expression and the ideals at the heart of democracy. As Schwartz said of Nguyen and Lee, “Who else in a moment like this would you want to hear from?”
We send our deepest condolences to those affected by recent tragic events and to those who have lost loved ones during this devastating and horrific time. Our hope is that authors will not face censorship or cancellation for speaking their minds—for doing what they, as artists, do best.
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