MEXICO CITY -- Mexico is ranked #148 on the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index. Fifty-five journalists have been murdered in Mexico during the last five years, about one-third of the some 150 who lost their lives in that time throughout the Americas, making Mexico the most dangerous place on the continent for professionals of the word.
In Israel the ultra Orthodox have attempted to inflict their values on a population that doesn't always cotton to their values. In an age of increasing terrorism, there will be a tendency to constrict both the exercise of beliefs as well as the right to express opposition and outrage at those self-same beliefs. The Supreme Court will have its work cut for it.
But this was an unusually interesting night at the Morgan, the eve of the PEN gala, and many in the room were slated to attend the writers' annual dinner that would honor Charlie Hebdo's Gerard Biard and Jean-Baptiste Thoret accepting the Freedom of Expression Courage Award on behalf of the magazine.
I'm writing five handwritten pen and ink letters to people each month for 12 months and see what comes of it. No typing as I somehow feel that would be cheating. And definitely no cards. Flat paper stationary and ink pens held with fingers. I want to remember what it's like talking to someone directly on paper with a pen in my hand.
The Governor of California, Jerry Brown, looked uncomfortable at the head table in the Beverly Hills Hotel ballroom where we had come to celebrate Joan Didion's PEN Lifetime Achievement Award. He struggled for the words; "I'm so sorry to have to tell you," he said, "Joan Didion will not be with us tonight."