More than 100 authors from around the world, including Nobel Prize winner John Maxwell Coetzee (Disgrace); writer and comedian Stephen Fry (More Fool Me); Man Booker Prize winners Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Yann Martel (Life of Pi); and thought leaders Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow), Rebecca Solnit (Men Explain Things to Me) and Naomi Klein (The Shock Doctrine) signed a pledge with Greenpeace to support free speech and stand up for forests.
This pledge follows two multi-million dollar lawsuits filed by Resolute Forest Products, a Canadian company, to silence Greenpeace’s criticism of its controversial logging in the boreal forest. The lawsuits could set a dangerous precedent for free speech if they succeed in silencing public comment on corporate behavior.
“The endings of The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984 and Brave New World are written. Ours is not. This is a chance to stand up for freedom of speech, the freedom to advocate for change, and the freedom to question authority, and to strengthen their protection under law. As a society, we need a positive outcome to this story,” said Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, which recently became Hulu’s record breaking television series and depicts a dystopian future where all but the most powerful women are forbidden to write and are denied access to books.
Authors signing the pledge committed to defend “freedom of speech as a pillar of democratic and peaceful societies, the right of individuals to organize and protest without intimidation, [and] those who peacefully protect the world’s forests.”
“Speaking as a serial blasphemer, I take freedom of speech very seriously,” said author and actor Stephen Fry, “It’s not just about the satisfaction you get from speaking your mind, it’s also about telling uncomfortable truths that need to be heard, and Greenpeace has been incredibly successful at exposing what the powers that be want to keep secret. But this case goes beyond Greenpeace to threaten every whistle-blower and watchdog with information that the rich and powerful want suppressed. I’m worried, and I think you should be too.”
On May 16th, Greenpeace published a report that showed major international publishers are purchasing paper from Resolute. Greenpeace is inviting these global publishers to join this call to protect freedom of speech and work with Resolute to become more sustainable.
Other notable authors who signed the pledge include Man Booker Prize winners Julian Barnes (The Sense of an Ending) and Ian McEwan (Atonement), Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Doerr (All The Light We Cannot See), MacArthur Award winner Deborah Eisenberg (Twilight of the Superheroes), Lev Grossman (The Magicians), Lauren Groff (Fates and Furies), William Shatner (Up Till Now), Alec Baldwin (Nevertheless), Jane Fonda (My Life So Far) and many more.
“Publishers and authors are natural allies in our fight to protect free speech. Our campaign celebrates the power of words and the incredible work that authors and publishers do every day to ensure critical thinking and the spread of ideas in our society. Now, we’re asking publishers to disavow this heavy-handed attempt by a paper company to silence dissent,” said Greenpeace USA Senior Forest Campaigner Amy Moas.
Greenpeace will be at Book Expo this week in New York, connecting with publishers and readers, and displaying an art installation called Treewhispers by artist Pamela Paulsrud, an ongoing international collaboration awakening our heartfelt connection to trees.