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Henry Rollins Talks Free Speech, Censorship, Technology & More at FPL

Henry Rollins kicks off the Innovation Speakers series with ‘Libraries Are Punk Rock’ at the Fayetteville Public Library on August 12th. The frontman of the Black Flag and Rollins bands, Rollins is an author, actor, activist, writer and more.

When choosing speakers for the series, consider the “relevance, scope , and the scope of the work, and the overall connection to the library,” said Melissa Taylor of the FPL Innovation Center. “Are they supporters or advocates of libraries? Do they support free speech and anti-censorship? Are they working on projects that promote literacy or education?”

Rollins answered these four questions for What’s Up!

Q. The program name is “Libraries Are Punk Rock”. In what sense do you think libraries are “punk rock”?

A. I think a library is a library, but at least the idea of ​​accessing information for clarity and truth, which punk rock means to me, can be realized in a library.

Q. GW I saw some of your talks during the Bush administration. Many thought it was the worst back then, but now is not the post-Trump era. It’s easy to get caught up in how bad everything is, but I still think what gives you hope that things will get better.

A. I think America was founded on premises that weren’t honest. How well do you think things will turn out when slave owners are straight-faced and tell you that all men are created equal? You really have to rethink your country when you had to win the right to vote. After that, I don’t think what’s happening in the United States right now is as surprising as it is consequential. It’s about how we deal with speciesism and put it right. Its sustainability is based on many people “knowing where they are” and staying there. Some have a desire to make America great again because it just isn’t what it used to be. From the Supreme Court to what’s happening on the streets, we’re seeing progress fighting setbacks. I predict more gun homicides and mass casualties.

Q. You are giving a lecture at the library. What book are you reading now? What is the best book you have read so far this year?

A. I’m trying to undo two manuscripts this year, so I haven’t read much outside of my own work. As well, I’m writing, or at least trying to do, a lot for several other projects. I noticed that as I got older, I read less and wrote more. I’m not really interested in the upload, I’m more interested in the output. Also, since you’re on tour, it’s hard to read because you’re either getting ready for the show, getting off the show, or trying to do the aforementioned work before or after the show. With that said, I’ve been reading her F. Scott Fitzgerald collection of short stories, I’d Die For You: And Other Lost Stories. I am rereading his Sun Ra biography by Szwed. The Trump disaster books I tried to avoid were too intriguing to resist. By Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig and by Bob Woodward. In the last few months I have also read The Devil You Know by Charles M. Blow. I haven’t had the chance to read the best books so far this year. I usually have it. The last book that really knocked me out was Ta-Nehsi Coates’ We Were Eight Years In Power.

Q. Lastly, which band are you excited about right now?

A. I really liked the album “All Bets Are Off” released last year by a woman named Tamar Aphek from Kill Rockstars. In The Red’s Liz Lamere’s new album “Keep It Alive” is great. Dion Lunadon’s new album “Beyond Everything” from the same label is good. Automatic’s new album “Excess” is great. The last few years have been really good for music.

Rollins will return to Arkansas for a show at TempleLive in Fort Smith on September 24th at 8pm ($29-$39). Get the latest information at

Punk rock legend Henry Rollins will be featured in a one-hour moderated conversation for innovation speakers on August 12 at 6:00 PM at the Fayetteville Public Library Event Center. The library is punk rock. The legendary punk rocker explores topics related to free speech, censorship, public libraries and technology. (Photo credit/Ross Haflin)