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Town Hall Seattle: Civics Series

Town Hall’s Civics series highlights everything from local policies to world politics. These events offer perspectives on a range of topics as diverse as Seattle itself—a bustling forum for activism, discovery, and thought-provoking discussion.

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Sep 1, 2020

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 our highly digitized society, free speech is often invoked as a concept but rarely understood. Suzanne Nossel, a leading voice in support of free expression, joins us to deliver a user’s guide for free speech.

In a livestreamed conversation with writer Dinaw Mengestu, Nossel drew on arguments, examples, and advice from her book Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All to introduce tools for speaking one’s mind without curbing free expression. She argued that the drive to create a more inclusive society need not compromise robust protections for free speech. Centered on practical principles, she provides guidance on enacting these values within universities, on social media, and in daily life. Join Nossel as she introduces an urgent primer on speaking your mind in a fast-changing landscape.

Suzanne Nossel is the CEO of PEN America, the leading human rights and free expression organization. She is a leading voice on free expression issues in the United States and globally. She held senior State Department positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations, and her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, and more.

Dinaw Mengestu is an Ethiopian-American author of three novels. His journalism and fiction have appeared in numerous publications, including Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and more. He is a recipient of a 2012 MacArthur Foundation genius grant.

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