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‘Billions’ Star Asia Kate Dillon Honors High Schooler Protesting Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Legislation

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Antonio Ferme editorThe 2022 PEN America Literary Gala featured remarks from Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and other notable figures who emphasized the importance of protecting free speech.“I see freedom of speech as a hope of democracy,” Booker told Variety on Monday night at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. “And now more than ever, we need people that are willing to speak with purpose.

Not for popularity or politics, but to speak to the truth of the matter.”Over the last 100 years, the nonprofit advocacy group has worked to defend the liberties of writers and literary professionals to freely express themselves.

PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said that she believes free speech is under imminent attack. “It’s a time of rising authoritarianism, both around the world and our country,” Nossel told Variety. “We’re spotlighting the breadth of threats to freedom of expression.”She continued, “It really calls upon all of us to stand up and defend free speech if we want to hold on to it because it’s being threatened from all sides.”“Billions” star Asia Kate Dillon presented the PEN/Benenson Freedom of Expression Courage Award to Jack Petocz, a high school activist who was suspended earlier this year for passing out Pride flags during a protest of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.“What Jack and his fellow students are doing is so important: mobilizing against bans and bigotry, [and] contesting adults who attempt to impose narrow thinking on wide communities,” Dillon said. “That is courage.

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