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SideBar Podcast on The Legal Talk Network Welcomes Suzanne Nossel

Suzanne Nossel CEO PEN America

SideBar on Legal Talk Network

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In this episode of SideBar, Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America discusses the dangers of book bans and educational gag orders to our core democratic values.

In 2021 - 24 state legislatures introduced 54 separate bills imposing “educational gag orders” intended to restrict teaching and training in K-12 schools, higher education, and state agencies.”
— Suzanne Nossel, CEO PEN America
MONTEREY/SANTA BARBARA, CA, UNITED STATES, February 2, 2023 / -- SideBar podcast on The Legal Talk Network welcomes human rights and free expression advocate Suzanne Nossel to the program with a new episode Saturday, February 4, 2023. Nossel currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of PEN America and is author of "Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All".

Book Bans and Democracy – Can they coexist? In this episode of SideBar, Nossel, discusses the dangers of book bans and educational gag orders to our core democratic values. She places these laws within a historical context, explains why they matter, and provides a way forward.

In her publications and speaking engagements, Nossel is a leading voice on free expression issues. Her incredible career spans government service and leadership roles in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. She has served as the Chief Operating Officer of Human Rights Watch, as Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, as Deputy to the U.S. Ambassador for UN Management and Reform, Vice President of U.S. Business Development for Bertelsmann, and as Vice President for Strategy and Operations for the Wall Street Journal.

Co-host Jackie Gardina stated, “Suzanne Nossel and PEN America alert us to the ongoing threats to free speech and expression that are reaching into higher education, K-12 education, and even our public libraries. These efforts are succeeding in creating educational censorship that infringes on Constitutional rights of free speech and expression.”

“In this episode of SideBar, Nossel discusses the unexpected re-birth of book-banning by school boards, city councils, and in several cases, state legislatures,” said co-host Mitch Winick. “It is also alarming to learn that states such as Florida and Georgia are among two-dozen states that are attempting to legislate K-12 and college public school curriculum in order to align it with certain conservative and religious ideology,” said Winick.

As reported by Nossel and PEN America, “between January and September 2021, 24 legislatures across the United States introduced 54 separate bills imposing “educational gag orders” intended to restrict teaching and training in K-12 schools, higher education, and state agencies and institutions. The majority of these bills target discussions of race, racism, gender, and American history, banning a series of “prohibited” or “divisive” concepts for teachers and trainers operating in K-12 schools, public universities, and workplace settings. These bills appear designed to chill academic and educational discussions and impose government dictates on teaching and learning.”

Nossel is a featured columnist for Foreign Policy magazine and has published op-eds in The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, and dozens of other outlets, as well as scholarly articles in Foreign Affairs, Dissent, Democracy, and other journals. Nossel is a magna cum laude graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

In discussing the importance of discussing these types of issues on SideBar, Winick, President and Dean of Monterey College of Law, emphasized that “Jackie and I believe that legal education and the issues of Constitutional rights should extend beyond the law school classroom and be part of our public dialogue.” Gardina, Dean of the Colleges of Law in Santa Barbara and Ventura adds, “these rights do not exist in a historical vacuum. If we want to understand the context of current legal issues, it is important to discuss why these laws originally came about, how they have evolved over time, and how they will be applied in the future.”

SideBar is scheduled to publish new episodes on the Legal Talk Network each 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month.

To listen to current SideBar episodes, read our blog, learn about future guests, and to contact the co-hosts with ideas, comments, or questions, go to

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