Multiple writers receive threats after defending Pim Lammers, "Unacceptable": Dutch PM
Writer Pim Lammers withdrew as the writer of the Children’s Book Week poem after receiving numerous death threats. Several other writers expressed support for him on social media and are now also receiving threats, Genevieve Waldmann, the chairman of the General Publishers Group (GAU), said in the NPO Radio 1 program Met Het Oog Op Morgen. Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the threats “unacceptable.”
Met Het Oog Op Morgen couldn’t find a single writer who dared to comment on the issue on air. “I can imagine that, “ said Waldmann. “I know that one of the authors who immediately picked up the pen to support Pim has now also been threatened. So you wait a while and stop making posts on social media.”
Waldman called the death threats writers receive about stories they wrote “dangerous, scary, and unsafe for writers.”
Lammers withdrew as the poem writer for the Children’s Book Week 2023 on Saturday after receiving numerous death threats. The award-winning author was asked to write the poem because he is an expert in children’s literature about identity and diversity.
Lammers got attacked on social media because of an adult story he wrote in 2015 about the relationship between a teenage boy and his trainer. The Christian family group Gezin in Gevaar (Family in Danger) started a petition accusing Lammers of being a “pedophile writer.” Independent parliamentarian Wybren van Haga even posed parliamentary questions about the matter, saying that the story “glorifies child abuse.”
“Writing a poem is not worth death threats to me,” Lammers said on Saturday. “The allegations about me are completely untrue, and I have therefore reported it to the police. The enormous amount of threats and their aggressiveness toward me and my loved ones have made me decide to withdraw.”
Lammers was the youngest winner of the Zilveren Griffel ever in 2018 for his picture book Het lammetje dat een varken is.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemned the threats against Lammers on Twitter on Sunday. “Free speech is a great asset in our constitutional state. Only the judge sets limits. Death threats are unacceptable,” Rutte said.
State Secretary Gunay Uslu (Culture) also said that “death threats against writers, artists, and creators are unacceptable. Regardless of how you interpret their work or what you think of it.”
The book umbrella organization CPNB said it took note of the threats with great indignation and dismay and finds it appalling that people are attacking an author. Literary freedom is under extreme pressure here, which is unacceptable, the CPNB said. “We have to soon start a conversation about the safety of our authors.”
The CPNB previously said that it consciously selected Lammers to write the poem for this year’s Children’s Book Week because his books are about “a very topical theme: being able to be yourself as a child.”
Reporting by ANP and NL Times