PEN Canada and PEN International concerned by calls to remove website

By | January 16, 2018 at 5:08 pm | No comments | News | Tags: , ,

PEN Canada and PEN International concerned by calls to remove website

TORONTO, Jan. 16, 2018 – Today PEN Canada and PEN International expressed concern at calls for the removal of a website critical of the University of British Columbia’s suspension and firing of Steven Galloway as Chair of its Creative Writing Program. The site – ubcaccountable.com – hosts an open letter signed by dozens of well-known Canadian writers setting out their concerns at a lack of transparency and due process in UBC’s handling of the complaints against Mr. Galloway.

Although calls for transparency and accountability are not de facto intimidation, concerns about such a chill have prompted several signatories to withdraw their support, and others to call for the removal of the site.

Not all speech is accorded equal weight in the media and in other public arenas – speech by those without power and privilege has often been relegated to the margins. With this in mind, it is reasonable to assume that in cases such as this, perceived support of an accused by prominent Canadians can cause a chill and could deter victims of harassment and sexual violence from exercising their own right to freedom of expression.

At the same time, freedom of expression also includes the public’s right to access information on issues of general concern, and the freedom to debate these issues within the public sphere. The website has functioned as a living document for more than a year, providing space for each of the signatories to freely express their opinions about this issue, and to independently revise and evaluate their positions on an ongoing basis. In the interest of freedom of expression, PEN believes the site should remain intact as a permanently accessible digital record of some of the public interest concerns in this case.

Available for interview:

  • Richard Stursberg, PEN Canada president

 

PEN Canada is a nonpartisan organization of writers that celebrates literature, defends free expression, and aids persecuted writers. www.pencanada.ca

For further information:

Amy Smith, PEN Canada, asmith@pencanada.ca, 416-703-8448 ext. 2223.

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