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Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All

Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All

by Suzanne Nossel


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"A must read."—Margaret Atwood

A vital, necessary playbook for navigating and defending free speech today by the CEO of PEN America, Dare To Speak provides a pathway for promoting free expression while also cultivating a more inclusive public culture.

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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062966049
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/06/2021
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 386,174
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Suzanne Nossel is the CEO of PEN America, the foremost organization working to protect and advance human rights, free expression and literature. She has also served as the Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch and as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA; and held senior State Department positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Nossel frequently writes op-eds for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other publications, as well as a regular column for Foreign Policy magazine. She lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

Introduction 1

Part I Principles for Speaking

1 Be Conscientious with Language 13

2 Fulfill a Duty of Care When Speaking 27

3 Find Ways to Express Difficult Ideas 41

4 Defend the Right to Voice Unpopular Speech 49

5 Apologize When You've Said Something Wrong 63

Part II Principles for Listening

6 Consider Intent and Context When Reacting to Speech 73

7 Call Out with Caution 85

8 Fight Hateful Speech and Hate Crimes 97

9 Protesting Without Silencing 113

10 Consider When to Forgive Speech-Related Transgressions 123

Part III Principles to Follow When Debating Free Speech Questions

11 Understand the Harms of Speech 133

12 Don't Equate Speech with Violence 141

13 Don't Politicize Free Speech 148

14 Don't Caricature the Arguments For and Against Free Speech 157

15 Prevent Free Speech from Reinforcing Inequality 169

Part IV Principles to Follow in Considering Speech-Related Policies

16 Know the Legal Limits of Free Speech 183

17 Beware Expanded Government Controls on Speech 197

18 Beware Expanded Corporate Controls on Speech 213

19 Hold Tech Platforms Accountable for Their Influence on Public Discourse 233

20 Know the Case for Free Speech 249

Acknowledgments 261

Notes 265

Index 293

Reading Group Guide 305

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