Recently, six prominent novelists said that they were boycotting the May 5 PEN American Center gala in New York literary to protest against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo being honoured with a freedom of expression award.
Australia's Peter Carey, Canada's Michael Ondaatje, British-born Taiye Selasi, and Americans Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner and Francine Prose have withdrawn from the event.
Carey, a two-times Booker Prize winner, told the New York Times that the award stepped beyond PEN's traditional role of protecting freedom of expression against government oppression:
"A hideous crime was committed, but was it a freedom-of-speech issue for PEN America to be self-righteous about? All this is complicated by PEN's seeming blindness to the cultural arrogance of the French nation, which does not recognise its moral obligation to a large and disempowered segment of their population."
Salman Rushdie, a perpetual crusader for freedom of expression, however slammed these six authours saying the decision of six writers to skip the PEN gala in protest will encourage intimidation.
Rushdie who often takes to Twitter to talk about his stands and beliefs got into a disagreement with British writer and activist George Monbiot.
Monbiot was defending Peter Carey's stand.
Fine: dislike CH's style. PEN celebrates its courage. Firebombed, restarted; murdered, restarted; goes on. Courage. https://t.co/01PFpbfBHh— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) April 28, 2015
.@GeorgeMonbiot Debunking religion is not hate speech. It's satire.— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) April 28, 2015
.@SalmanRushdie Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. It depends entirely on how you do it.— GeorgeMonbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) April 28, 2015
.@GeorgeMonbiot Well, I don't believe in defending free speech only for those who do it in a way you'd approve of; sorry about that.— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) April 28, 2015
.@SalmanRushdie Nor do I. And nothing I have said suggest otherwise. But 2 sound values - pro-free speech, anti-hate speech - can conflict.— GeorgeMonbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) April 28, 2015
.@GeorgeMonbiot Yes, of course. Let's agree to leave it there?— Salman Rushdie (@SalmanRushdie) April 28, 2015
.@SalmanRushdie Agreed. And best wishes. George— GeorgeMonbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) April 28, 2015
While Salman Rushdie and George Monbiot behaved like perfect gentlemen and agreed to disagree, Twitterati were left rather disappointed because there was no mud-slinging, invective-flinging fight.