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Letter Signed By Prominent Figures Encouraging Open Debate And Free Speech Receives Backlash

Harry Potter author JK Rowling
Harry Potter author JK Rowling
(Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

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More than 150 prominent writers, artists and academics signed a letter released this week warning against stifling free speech and encouraging tolerance for open debate and ideas. The letter, which includes signatories like Gloria Steinem and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, has received mixed reviews and backlash.

According to the Washington Post, some criticised signatories included in the letter like author J.K. Rowling, who’s been condemned for seemingly anti-transgender comments. And some who signed the letter are now trying to retract their signature. Those in favor of the letter’s message argue censoring free speech and debate will only harm societal progress. Today on AirTalk, we discuss the letter, how people are responding and how to move forward. Do you have thoughts about the letter? Share them by calling 866-893-5722.

We’ve reached out to various critics of the letter, as well as signatories who’ve revoked their support. No one was available to join us by air time.


Nadine Strossen, former president of the American Civil Liberties Union and professor emriti at New York Law School, she’s the author of “HATE: Why We Should Resist It With Free Speech, Not Censorship” (Oxford University Press, 2018)