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February 5, 2024 56 mins

Nearly 6,000 instances of book banning have been recorded since 2021, and the book censorship movement is growing, accelerated by new laws in some states. PEN America has joined Penguin Random House, authors, and students in a lawsuit against Escambia County school district, challenging unlawful censorship. PEN America program director, Kasey Meehan, joins us to talk about the numbers, what is being banned, who is driving the movement, and what actions, both legal and grassroots, are underway to push back against this fundamental challenge to freedom of expression and our democracy.  Kasey explains in layman's terms what topics are being censored, how book ban lists are copied from state to state, and how state laws are creating a chilling effect on teachers and librarians who err on the side of "caution," by removing books or not buying them.  We discuss the principles behind freedom of expression and open discourse, as well as specifics of the book ban movement, such as Moms for Liberty and their website, booklooks.org, which provides "slick sheets," excerpts used to support book bans. Don't miss this essential episode.

The PEN America Call to Action webpage:
https://pen.org/issue/free-the-books/

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