Monday, August 10, 2009

The Prisoner

Noted imprisoned writer Cassidy Wheeler is the latest to join the Petition to PEN at
It was not easy getting him information on the protest. The facility he's at opens and screens all mail. They have a bureaucratic checklist of more than fifty reasons for rejecting correspondence. Nevertheless, a small information packet was eventually allowed through to him.

Cassidy signed immediately and mailed back the Petition. His name has been added to the list of literary heroes. At the same time, many hundreds of writers who aren't in prison have easy access to the Petition, and the reasons behind it. They can read it at will, at the click of a computer mouse, and have not signed. How many more rights do they have than Cassidy; how many more opportunities to speak out?-- for their own rights and for all writers' rights, yet they fail to do so.

We either use our democratic freedoms or lose them-- use our voices or see those voices marginalized, so that the only voices which remain are those for the rich and powerful-- as we've seen with the transformation of PEN the past twenty years. Plutocrats will have all the media, all the space, while our own room to maneuver in this society will be squeezed as tight as a prison cell.

The Petition to PEN is an affirmation of purpose; a statement of existence as citizens and writers. Please join our cause.

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