Tom Stoppard calls today 'frightening time' for free speech.
Byline: Mark Kennedy
NEW YORK -- Playwright Tom Stoppard said he will accept PEN's highest award next month in New York to help put a spotlight on a "frightening time'' for free expression.
Stoppard is to accept the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award, the highest honor bestowed by the American chapter of the global human-rights organization of writers and editors.
"People like me are chosen, in a sense, to represent what PEN and other organizations are doing 24/7. So I can say I'm proud to represent them,'' the playwright said.
Charlie Hebdo, the Parisian satirical magazine that was a target of a deadly shooting in January, also will be honored.
Staff member Jean-Baptiste Thoret, who barely escaped the attack that killed eight of his co-workers and four others, will receive the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award.
Stoppard, who has campaigned for oppressed artists and political dissidents in Eastern and Central Europe, said threats to free speech are worse now than ever, from radical Islam to U.S. government surveillance.