windmills, an essay from ARGUMENTS WITH THE THOUGHT POLICE
by john bart gerald
drawings by julie maas




    A number of these letters were written to the Freedom to Write Committee of American PEN (the international writers' organization), which often looked after writers in prison or in extreme duress. Most of these writers were in other countries, and because the fortunes of many did not seem so much more terrible than the lot of some writers in the States I began attempting to encourage the Committee to care for our own as well. This is a small sampling of letters to PEN and several other organizations. My concern throughout is freedom of expression.

May 19, 1984
Dear Freedom to Write Committee:
   Having recently received from Dial Press, Marek Nowakowski's The Canary, and promotional material on the book and author, it seems that Nowakowski was arrested on March 8th in Poland. The editor's letter does not state the specific charge in the arrest, and whether it is specifically for writings, or whether the charges are spurious, as is done here. In any event another dissident writer is in jail and the editor requests help on the author's behalf, and are we able to help him in any way ? I suggest we try.
    It certainly is helpful of the authorities in Poland to arrest one of their authors just as his book is about to appear in the US. Such Soviet-American cooperation at a level of capitalist business and publicity! The poor author.
    In any FTWC attempts to help the author, we might at least see that he is being paid, particularly if his book does well with Doubleday, as a result of his imprisonment. The possible difficulty of paying dissident writers in iron curtain countries, though it has made them popular with American publishers and propaganda, should finally be confronted directly by FTWC, because some form of payment is certainly in the interest of the writer. Does Doubleday, for instance, contribute its proceeds from the book to the Polish State ? This, for example, might ease the system's persecution of the dissident writer. Does the American publisher set up a trust fund for the author's widow or family, in the event his use by our propaganda systems, proves fatal?
    Is there any way which FTWC can help iron curtain country dissident writers, without directly and purposefully serving US propaganda interests in the area ? Would the case be handled more appropriately, by a PEN organization of a more neutral country ? Since FTWC itself has, against my own vote, decided to publish yet another dissident writer along a propaganda perspective useful to the US, our moral weight and effectiveness as a Committee, is diminished.
    Therefore I urge reconsideration of the Committee's nearsighted decision, as good as that poet may be....
    May I also urge FTWC to take more care in how it is used. My own repeated efforts to bring attention to the instances of direct oppression of our own writers, have come to nothing, and are usually brushed off as the murmurings of a madman, or pre-empted by more abstract considerations of our conditions. The fact is that the freedoms of American writers are super if one plays ball, and in very bad shape if one does not play ball. And FTWC which ought to provide recourse to writers who for example offend some government policy, does not, and seems to be more useful as a tool of government propaganda, than as an organization seeking justice for writers and freedom of expression, in America as well. As offensive as it is to consider the takeover of Polish PEN by the government, how does that differ from the use of PEN American Center, by our own intelligence systems ?
    It is then, in a spirit of brotherhood, that I return to the plight of Marek Nowakowski, in a Polish prison for in one way or another kicking against the pricks. My own inclination is to support any letter by the Committee, to assert our own kinship as writers, with this among other unfortunate Poles. And we might praise at least our own system for publishing them because to the best of my knowledge the Soviets lack the imagination to publish our own dissidents.


February 24, 1985
Dear Freedom to Write Committee:
    In response to FTWC's request for Christmas cards to writers in prison, J.B.Gerald & J.Maas sent out a number of cards. Recently I received the following information:
    Maina wa Kinyatti, Kamiti Prison, Kenya, imprisoned in 1982 for 6 years. Due to the political nature of the imprisonment, no likelihood of remission, amnesty, parole. Claims love for justice and democracy and humanity. Is going blind. Cyst in left eye which continues to eat out his iris. Disease has spread to his right eye and threatens him with total blindness.
    Needs help. Also has developed stomach ulcers and serious heartburn due to dietary irregularities.

    Prisoners are only allowed to write letters to relatives.
    I think the request for medical help is authentic and requires immediate attention. Is there any way FTWC or PEN can ask the government of Kenya for immediate medical treatment to save the prisoner's sight, and provide treatment for ulcers ? Due to difficulties of any communications from prisoners, please find an appropriate way to cover your information source.



April 4, 1985
Dear Freedom to Write Committee:
    Concerning the FTWC Bulletin handling of information about Kinyatti: my letter of February 24th makes no mention of a letter from the prisoner, warns of restrictions on letters from that prison, and specifically requests the information source be covered. Where confidence of source is advised, the Bulletin might want to say, "According to our sources...." Please be more careful of such things, and you might want to mention this to the Committee.



September 10, 1986
Dear Freedom to Write Committee:
    It's not so easy to get down to New York City, find a place to stay, and attend FTWC meetings. From this safe distance, may I suggest some improvements.
    There is a tradition in the States that persecutes, forces out, ruins, preys on, or ignores, those writers who don't play ball easily with government networks and publishing/literary fashions. I'm against that tradition. For some years I hoped FTWC would be able to do the unexpected and help out unpopular American writers. Our popular writers, whose names fill the lists of American PEN's Board, are so well loved and needed by the people, even here in the boondocks, that they have less need for Committee support.
    Several years ago at an FTWC meeting, a non-white Committee member appeared to be in terrible trouble. When she was evicted in the City, and without funds, or by her account payments due from publishers, and with a child just out of the hospital, it seems no one would take her in. Though I had met her that once, they came here. Her fare out of town was contributed by another FTWC. member, I and my family took in the writer and her child, but we really did not have any choice about it. They were without money, even to return to New York. ...... When I called FTWC Staff for assistance, the Staff said it was not an FTWC problem, My wife and I were without work and without enough money to get through the winter. I and we certainly did not owe the writer and her child anything but normal human compassion. For two weeks we did nothing but care for them and paid their way back to the City, considerably healthier than when they came. FTWC did not share the expense or repay me and my family, in kindness or concern.
    The visit did suggest that I was correct in my attempts to make provision at FTWC for American writers to find protection and means of recourse, when persecuted as a result of their writings. As far as I know, FTWC remains reluctant to deal with American realities.
    I admire and support the Committee's efforts on behalf of writers suffering in other countries.I trust that its sensitivity to non-government information has improved. When I sent FTWC information concerning an African writer in prison, I requested that the information source be kept confidential because the letter was smuggled out of prison there, and might endanger the prisoner or his means of communication, FTWC did not cover the information source, and printed my name as well.
    If FTWC and American Center do not take better care of their members and those who turn to them for help, the only survivors will be hacks, hypocrites and racists.



December 13, 1988
President Gustav Husak
President of the CSSR
11908 Praha--Hrad

    No doubt you have received many other letters urging the release from Valdice Prison of Jiri Wolf. As a writer who can barely survive in my own country, I humbly add my plea to theirs, and not because it is fashionable to express outrage at the treatment of writers in Communist countries, but because many of us feel a sense of brotherhood or sisterhood with those working in the same fields of endeavour in other countries.
    Simply there is enough suffering and humbling in the lives of truly creative people, and much of it brought on by ourselves; that is only increased when we become the target of anger from officials. Yet each of us knows that the reason for our work, even when it appears to be subversive to the interests of one state or another, is love for our people. Otherwise there would be no desire to communicate. Or to take the risks of freedom which in many political systems lead to unjust punishment.
    I respect Jiri Wolf for caring for his people and country, and urge you to persuade those in charge of your policies toward writers and artists, to relent, to recognize the true intention of all freedom of expression, whatever its political effect.



Selections from...
June 24, 1991
Freedom to Write Committee
Dear FTWC:

    Re. Mumia Abu-Jamal: I'm enclosing a copy of my letter (5/25/90) to Governor Casey. The Philadelphia Police Department has made mistakes before in dealing with dissident journalism (ie. See Rips, Un-American Activities, p. 108). There is documentation that black dissidents were targeted by COINTELPRO in Philadelphia and that arrests were used as a tactical weapon rather than in response to crimes (See War at Home, by Brian Glick, p. 78). Nationally, framing of civil rights workers was an established tactic (for example, Ben Chavis: see War at Home, p. 24). I think most dissident writers would agree that if Jamal were found anywhere near the scene of a crime, he'd be charged with it.
    My own experience is that illegal police and undercover retaliation was/remains a real threat to freedom of expression (See Dissident Accounts, by me, pp 54-60. This account of police retaliation and false arrest, as a result of reporting NY police brutality, was partly substantiated with the release under the Handschu decision of my NYPD secret police file from one day of peace activities during Vietnam: 27 pages in an attempt to implicate me in actions I was covering as a journalist).
    In The Nation article of April 23,1990, a number of points raise reasonable doubt about Jamal's arrest, trial, conviction, and sentence, and I urge a very strong letter from FTWC to Governor Casey asking for clemency, in line with [staff's] "Recommendation for Action."
    Black American journalists show exceptional faith in law enforcement, by going on record with dissident view, when America's most articulate Blacks have been murdered, imprisoned, forced from the country, etc.. Any journalism shares information with the police as well as the rest of the community. The fatal shooting of an officer was apparently both unintended and unpremeditated. Would these points give the Governor additional grounds for clemency ? Could the Legal Defence Fund present a case to the Human Rights Commission of the UN, or try to apply the Genocide Convention within our own court system?
    When less than famous American writers are severely damaged, FTWC has provided no firm and aggressive back-up. It should. Jamal's case should have been an active concern of the Committee since 1981. The Committee has not had the resources for back-up and support, inquiry and follow up, for hundreds of possible cases. And FTWC is not going to be informed or be a recourse for most American writers, if it doesn't expand its resources. I've suggested this for over ten years.
    Since I often criticize our society's treatment of its writers, I thought to include some positive examples of freedom of expression here in the US, and so enclose samples of Editions Gerald & Maas press posters/leaflets from Maine during the Gulf crisis as well as letters to the Writers Union newsletter and local newspaper (serving Kennebunkport as well). On the other hand my most recently published short story appears in Paris.



le 15 fevrier, 1992
PEN Club francais, Paris, France
Chers Amis
    Considerons: dans Informations je ne trouve pas, meme sous "Rapport du Comite des ecrivains en Prison," un nom, un mot, des ecrivains de la France, l'Angleterre, l'Irlande, les États-Unis ou Canada, en detresse a cause de leurs ecrits et passion pour liberte. Est-ce-que Îa veut dire que tels ecrivains n'existent plus ? Ou est-ce que notres gouvernements sont tout a coup, justes et les vraies democraties ? Les peuples d'Iraq, est-ce qu'ils les trouvent justes? Est-ce que leures femmes et leurs enfants continuent . suivre les soldats prisonniers . une silence impos' d'abord par 141,921 tonnes des bombes nordicistes et par les niveleuses ? Est-ce qu'il n'y a personne parmi les 'crivains bienconnus, qui peut protester le crime de Génocide quand tant de gouvernements l'ont effectue? Sur deux cotes de l'Atlantique, l'epee, a-t-il coupe la plume ?
    Comme membre de PEN American Center et membre associe du P.E.N. Club francais, je paye tous les deux, et c'est trop, surtout si on ne trouve pas des differences. A l'avenir, pourriez-vous regler ma cotisation ?

April 11, 1992
An Open Letter to the *** College Association (distributed to the Faculty)(2)
    My own experience at other colleges is that faculty members interested in tenure are not entirely free to speak with conscience without encouraging their own replacement by someone more oppressed and so less vocal. In this way the academic community teaches silence. So the freedom of being a recent temporary part-time faculty member, carries some responsibility to note the obvious.
    I was able to attend a portion of our meeting April 8th. The racial composition of attenders was by appearance, fifty white faculty members and only one faculty member from a minority group (black, brown, Asian, American Indian). If this reflects the racial balance of the *** Faculty as a whole, I am ashamed, because it isn't fair. I question any organization devoted to education, that invites us to accede to such an obvious imbalance of races and cultural perspectives. The representation in numbers of woman faculty members is much better than the norm, so one can say that at ***, there is apparently equal opportunity for women if they are white.
    It might be to my self-interest, as a white anglo-saxon protestant male, to say nothing. I stake no exclusive claim on morality. I am not challenging the intellectual integrity of individual faculty. But I am questioning the common decency of the group, and in this instance an urban college faculty which is apparently almost entirely white. Because it suggests that in practice, the faculty seems to have defined itself racially, as almost exclusively white, and so is partaking in racial and cultural warfare at odds with the purposes of education.
    No matter how diverse the views of white faculty members are, the views become a privilege, and a privilege acquired by the exclusion of in this instance, darker peoples. When diverse views become the privilege of a racially defined group, they are no longer an inherent right of the people. With an all white faculty, even when gentled by tokenism, education gradually becomes white cultural programming. The most serious challenges to the dominant culture become muted or are never made. Without serious intellectual challenges, the quality of education deteriorates to become training and propaganda, which conditions trainees to accept the unacceptable, whether it is the slaughter on the road to Basra, or another criminal war against third world peoples, the hypocrisy of doctors who charge exorbitant fees to attend to suffering, the endless list of injustices in American society.
    Hiring by racially defined quotas does not really solve the problem, since other academic criteria can be applied to hiring which demand accession to white supremacist education. And by demanding that each person define self racially, even the census asks us to see ourselves not by what binds us together but by what differentiates us racially and to political advantage. Racial balance speaks for the justice inherent in each faculty, and remains a measure of each college's commitment to humanity. How much shame will *** teachers accept ? Possibly minority group part-time faculty members will be hired, guarding the power among tenured white faculty members. As temporary as my moment here is, I urge the *** Faculty Association to consider the following as *** reshapes its future:
1. Strengthen *** as an international American college, with course offerings, programs, departments, that will have an international appeal, particularly to third world countries.
2. Encourage the presence of visiting faculty from any nation that might be bombed into the stone age by the US or the new world order.
3.Individually, insist on the hiring of Black, Asian and Hispanic Americans, as part-time and tenure line faculty.
4. Since these might be initially represented among part-time faculty, allow part-time faculty equal voting powers in hiring procedures.
5. Encourage the employment of diverse writers, artists, and political leaders who most directly challenge the white cultural norms.
6. Provide programs in and certification for midwives, physicians' assistants, and other job classifications needed in "underdeveloped" countries and areas of poverty within our own, if these are not already available in your nursing programs.
7. Take the *** Faculty Association into the strongest union that will accept it.
8. Insist on full representation of minority groups in the college administration.
9. Increase the number of faculty who teach from successful experience in their fields. This will open the college to perspectives not offered within the closed circuit of white university education and employment.
10. Offer and integrate into existing curriculums, courses which specifically address the Holocaust, genocide, white supremacy, racial purity, nordicism, nazism, fascism, the arrogance of power, and crimes against humanity, drugs as a means of political control, etc..
11. Provide inexpensive continuing group medical insurance to all faculty members, even when they are no longer employed by ***, in order to draw the best part-time faculty ....



July 23, 1993
Letter to the Maine Public Utilities Commission:
    I think both the Public Utilities Commission and Central Maine Power Company understand that safe electricity means lower rates in the long run.
    With increasing scientific focus on possible effects of Electric Magnetic Fields, as studies expand, more evidence is suggesting a possible cancer causative risk of prolonged low level EMF. If and when the evidence becomes conclusive, it may place a terrible economic burden on the power companies, in correcting present facilities, and in health-related claims. The expenses would probably be passed along to the consumer as rate increases.
    Recognizing possible health hazards, some enlightened power companies are already seeking new technology to lower EMF. But since the focus of scientific attention on this area is relatively recent, it stands to reason that the longer one waits to implement Maine's electrical grid, the more safe and less expensive it will be.
    I am enclosing for your library the copies of two recent Swedish studies sent to me, which may help your consideration of Electric Magnetic Field risks to the people of Maine. As I understand, you have the 1990 workshop review draft evaluating EMF, that is available for comment from the EPA [US Environmental Protection Agency].
    The first Swedish study brought out by their National Institute of Occupational Health, 1992, Occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields in relation to leukaemia and brain tumours, a case-control study, raises concern for electrical workers. This is surely a concern to CMP. Concern for workers naturally extends to residences in proximity to the lines where exposure is prolonged.
    The second Swedish study, Magnetic fields and cancer in people residing near Swedish high voltage power lines (Institutet for miljomedicin report of June 1992), produced under contract for the Swedish electrical power industry and government, suggests a causative relationship between EMF and leukaemia in children. The study correlates people living within 300 metres of 220 kV and 400 kV lines in Sweden with all cases of cancer in Sweden from 1960-85.
    These are simply two among hundreds of studies of possible effects of EMF on incidence of leukaemia, brain tumours and other cancers, as well as on cellular life itself. Correlation between EMF and many other types of illnesses have yet to be studied but I think precedent is established that there may be a causal link between EMF exposure as measured from the rate of 2 milligauss up, and cancer (particularly leukaemia in children). I urge you to consider carefully both studies, for their impact on both electrical workers and abutters of proposed transmission and distribution lines, and for possible consequences that would affect consumer price rates. As a York County abutter to a CMP right of way, I am particularly concerned that in my area, Moody-Wells, a right of way runs through and alongside medium density residential areas: York County: Moody-Wells; CMP option for 115 kV line on 100 foot wide right of ways between Captain Thomas Road (in Ogunquit) and Edgewood Road, according to the York County Coast Star, 6/16/93, "CMP power line routed the 21 mile distance."
    Population density of this area has increased dramatically since the right of ways were obtained. Proximity to beaches suggests this area will be increasingly used for residences, rentals, tourism: people. It is accessible to Town sewage and water, through natural extensions of present Town services.
    The State of Maine and Central Maine Power are in a fortunate position, in that the option may still exist in Maine to provide a reasonably safe electrical environment. Maine does not have the degree of established population densities of more industrially developed or thickly settled States,

where the electrical grids were laid out before contemporary findings were available.
    With any substantive chance of EMF causing cancer, new high voltage lines through or alongside residential areas might be reconsidered. I think information on possible hazards should be made known to utility workers and all the people. Electric development might be delayed until new technologies can assure minimal or no EMF in line cable design and configuration, until provable need can pay for the expense of developing a surely safe technology and until present lines and substations have been considered in light of emerging data on cancer causative risk due to relatively low EMF fields from power lines, stations, equipment, techniques of repair, and office and household equipment. New transmission lines through and alongside residential areas might simply increase current EMF exposure. How can there be any "acceptable risk", when the risk is one of terminal illness, when it involves children, and when there is a choice?



A Letter to PEN listserv, March 2, 1997 13:02 PM
"Some Thoughts on Freedom of Expression"

"This old anvil laughs at many hammers..." Carl Sandburg

    As a US writer for thirty years and american for enough generations to feel at home in the States, I see freedom of expression existing only within clearly defined parameters. Currently, I write in Ottawa.

    I'd like to share some thought on the freedom of expression our American Center champions so well at points or at least so famously. I joined in 1977, not for the parties but because I was being beaten up at random in New England by para-military goons, despite my nonviolence. After I joined PEN the beatings stopped. I now pay dues to PEN organizations in three countries: the US, Canada, and France.

    In the Eighties, American Center's limitations as a recourse for US writers in distress were clear. I put in four or five years working actively with the Freedom to Write Committee ('78-'83). I tried to encourage mechanisms of recourse but was not very effective. PEN's management, very successful writers, and sources of the organization's funding, seemed psychologically un-equipped to deal with the degree of oppression beyond inner circles of privilege. Attempts to extend American style freedom of expression to foreign countries relied on a coincidence with State Department policies and the covert machinery that still keeps what appears in print so consistently one-note.

    The controlling ethic of what is "suitable" for publication, and what the public is allowed to understand, hasn't changed for thirty to forty years. Electronic communications are liberating, not only for information but the personal and human truths which mass-think tries to eradicate. For instance on this listserv posting I can consider what "freedom of expression" I have rather than what is allowed.

    My early writing probably grew out of areas I couldn't talk about. Many years ago, in 1960, and partly in response to the Sharpesville massacre, I quit Harvard and went to work at Dr. Schweitzer's Hospital, where I learned Gabon was about to win Independence and the French military and law was going and gone. Through Schweitzer's good concern I moved from working with the lepers to delivering leprosy medications to an area where Europeans weren't usually allowed ("unrest") and then to teaching school at an isolated Missions post by the borders. In the country across the border ninety Europeans had recently been killed. On my side of the border there were no other Americans and a few European missionaries. The mother of my first child and the local independence leader among other native people looked after me until malaria knocked me out and I went back to Harvard. I wrote fiction about a world I couldn't share the facts of since African friends continued to protect those left which included European staff at Schweitzer's. Currently, the other grandfather of grandchildren there is the country's President and the country sits on a large oil reserve.

    As a writer my experience includes about a hundred publications, some recognition as a short story writer, four false arrests, death threats by police, an NYPD secret police surveillance file, surveillance, denial of employment, hard labour to feed my family, stretches at City College, Harvard, and Bennington, an FBI record hidden from me until I tried to move to Canada, surprise assaults, mail problems, and when I come in contact with US intelligence services, a "Move to the back of the bus." It's easy for me to pinpoint when my freedom of expression began to be overtly suppressed rather than "guided" as it was through prep school and Harvard. In 1965 I went to Alabama as a recently published Viking novelist (a novel set in Africa), to freelance an article on the Selma to Montgomery march. Denied press credentials by Alabama police, I was selected by Dr. King's people as a movement march marshal/body shield. I did that well. I was also a reserve medic, not on duty which was a weekend a month usually at the Newark City Hospital emergency room. After the march five of us were falsely charged with stealing a newspaper, driven around the countryside in handcuffs, made to listen to the orders given state and county police officers to shoot to kill any of us seen in that county again, imprisoned for five days, beaten, etc.. I was threatened with twenty years imprisonment for my writings - "Anarchy against the State" or some police-imagined weirdness, and the FBI got all my notes for the article. Freedom of expression ? No. I wrote what the prison stay was like for The New York Review of Books. What was strange though was there was no cause for the threat. There was no cause for any hassle except as retribution for being there. The FBI laughed off our reports of death threats. There was never redress. There was never opportunity for redress. Alabama never withdrew its death threat and never apologized. It was later proved that Mississippi police were guilty of violating civil rights by murder of Schwerner Goodman and Cheney nine months before, and that an FBI operative participated in the murder of Viola Liuzzo.

    Aware early that police are often made the tools of politics, I reported police brutality at an anti-war rally, in The Village Voice. At the next rally I tried to cover, police brutality was criminal. Afterward I was falsely arrested for "obstructing traffic" while walking down the sidewalk with a friend, and placed briefly in "The Tombs." I couldn't write the article for years. I did tell a D.A.. No there wasn't any redress. My lawyer said if we sued the City they would slap drugs on me and put me away. No I didn't have a press card which required clearance through the police, which is one reason more successful journalists didn't report police brutality. A lawyer friend at Louis Nizer's said sorry they were representing the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. The arrest is not mentioned in a NYPD secret police surveillance report mailed to me some twenty years later thanks to the Handschu decision. It did not mention Abbie Hoffman whom I knew a bit and interviewed at the rally, but me amid group after group I never heard of, supposedly Communist organizations bent on violence.There was no way to answer twenty years later. Freedom of expression?

    Not really.

    Then to skip about thirty years in 1994 I was about to move to Canada with my family. Currently, this requires FBI clearance. My wife and kids were cleared to leave. I wasn't. After years of FOIA requests and responses denying they had any information, the FBI came up with an arrest record: a single petty larceny charge from 1965 in Montgomery Alabama, no disposition noted. This kept us sitting for six months, unemployed in Maine, while I was turned in to Alabama police, before the FBI admitted to the Canadian government that I hadn't been convicted as a petty thief and let me leave. Freedom of movement? Well yes, if no one wants to settle old scores.

    While this is documentable material, it's a scratch on the surface of the kind of hassles which occur once one is targeted. Careful of laws, I found that government infrastructure and those who have to please it, get even with those who assert their rights. My experience is that if one insists on writing about what are in fact human rights violations in the US, one is shut out or made to pay.

    Sensing a need for it in the late Eighties I found "The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" out of print at the UN, and with permission published the Convention and related treaties with our small press in Maine. It was 1989, shortly before the Gulf War and the work was received badly; our ads in several papers were blanked out; our small press very nearly went out of business. The UN eventually re-published its edition of the Convention.

    With research I learned that the US ratified the Convention in 1988 after a forty year delay but with specific "reservations" which allowed the Convention to be applied to the US only as the US government chooses. The Netherlands for example considers the US outside the treaty. This was news not covered in the press, and for several years my efforts to publish relevant articles were ignored.

    I was able to bring out the Genocide Convention with other UN treaties, as well as any reservations by North American countries, here in Ottawa where Canadians have their own difficulties not only with Francophone Separatism but the rights of First Peoples. For those of you with web access I recommend the work as necessary information, and available to read without charge at [currently], under Common Rights and Expectations.

    Of particular relevance to writers:
Article 19 of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights," states:
"Everyone has the right of freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

    "The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" which became effective in 1976, signed by the US in 1977, and ratified by the US with reservations in 1992, states in Article 19:
"1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
"2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
"3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided for by law and are necessary:
   a. For respect of the rights and reputations of others;
   b. For protection of national security or of public order ("ordre public"), or of public health or morals."

    It states in Article 20:
"1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
"2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law."
    Though reminiscent of principles stated in the US Constitution and PEN's International Charter, the Covenant extends any domestic protections to freedom of expression, through Article 5:
"1. Nothing in the Present Covenant may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognized herein or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for in the present Covenant.
"2. There shall be no restrictions upon or derogation from any of the fundamental human rights recognized or existing in any State Party to the present Covenant pursuant to law, conventions, regulations or custom on the pretext that the present Covenant does not recognize such rights or that it recognizes them to a lesser extent."
    Among other things to note here: within the context of international law, American Center's changes in by-laws which deprive general membership the freedom to change PEN by direct vote, are unwise. PEN may want to assure general membership a strong participatory voice, among other evidence of the organization's care for rights, unless it will be only a force of suppression.



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