J.K. Rowling Defends Donald Trump’s Right to Be “Offensive and Bigoted”

The quote of the day comes from J.K. Rowling speaking at the PEN America Literary Gala & Free Expression Awards. There, she received the 2016 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award:

Intolerance of alternative viewpoints is spreading to places that make me, a moderate and a liberal, most uncomfortable. Only last year, we saw an online petition to ban Donald Trump from entry to the U.K. It garnered half a million signatures.

Just a moment.

I find almost everything that Mr. Trump says objectionable. I consider him offensive and bigoted. But he has my full support to come to my country and be offensive and bigoted there. His freedom to speak protects my freedom to call him a bigot. His freedom guarantees mine. Unless we take that absolute position without caveats or apologies, we have set foot upon a road with only one destination. If my offended feelings can justify a travel ban on Donald Trump, I have no moral ground on which to argue that those offended by feminism or the fight for transgender rights or universal suffrage should not oppress campaigners for those causes. If you seek the removal of freedoms from an opponent simply on them grounds that they have offended you have crossed the line to stand alongside tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justification.

Amen. In democracies, offensive people have rights too.

You can watch a complete recording of the gala here. Also find a transcript of Rowling’s complete speech over at The Wall Street Journal.

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Comments (11)
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  • the dave says:

    We either have free speech or we don’t. As far as inciting people, everyone is their own keeper. If you decide to be violent, it’s something YOU chose to do.

  • Cornelius says:

    If you declare that you support freedom of speech then you cannot have freedom of speech a la carte. You either allow everyone to speak or not. And if there are people attracted by a bigoted a individual then they have themselves to blame. Don’t suppose that restricting freedom of speech will automatically restrict bigots to act like bigots, or a percentage of society to demand racist legislations. If society takes the wrong way nobody can save it. No governments, no legislations, no laws… the only thing we can do is to engage in public discussions with such individuals, in order to transform this social tendency. Banning doesn’t help. In the end, we as social beings are responsible for our own choices.

  • The Duncan says:

    To clarify: The petition was to ensure Trump was treated exactly the same as anyone else coming to the UK – which has frequently barred entry to those spouting views similar to Trump’s. At the time of the petition he was at his most objectionable and would ordinarily have been barred from entry if he was going to propagate such views.

    “If the United Kingdom is to continue applying the ‘unacceptable behaviour’ criteria to those who wish to enter its borders, it must be fairly applied to the rich as well as poor, and the weak as well as powerful.”


  • Anar says:

    Exactly, and we should all be free to call J.K. Rowling a jerk too.

  • Steve says:

    “In democracies, offensive people have rights too.”

    More correctly put, “In democracies, offensive individuals have rights to be offense… Candidates for the presidency should not”

    Yes, as a person he may be free to be reprehensible. But as a job applicant for the President of the United States, he has to be subject to a whole different standard and willing to forego those freedoms for the right to lead a nation.

    Those in military service are subject to similar guidelines.

    Same goes with his taxes. As a private individual, they are none of my business. As a candidate for the job of President, they most certainly should be public record.

  • Alan says:

    Let’s be clear that what she is defending is is free speech for rich people. If you are an American reading her comments you may not appreciate the ancient defamation laws in Scotland, where she lives, that allow rich people to wield the law as a weapon against critics.

  • shthar says:

    Actually he WOULDN’T have that freedom of speech in the UK. Especially if he wanted to talk about Elton John’s husband.

    Which noone in the UK can talk about.

  • Trevor Philips Research Journalist says:

    Rowling has successfully prosecuted over 60 people in court via her ruthless lawyers Schillings of London for ‘defamation’ and plagiarism and has been a star witness in the Leveson inquiry got up to gag editors and media workers throughout the UK. She declared how ‘offended’ she was at unwarranted intrusion into her private life by the media when one would have reasonably expected such behaviour to be normal for paparazzi making a living out of universal interest in famous figures.The Willy the Wizard case against her, possibly the biggest of its kind in literary history was virtually dumbed out of existence by Google. Whether Google was complying to pressure from her or Schillings is anybody’s guess. But facts are facts and somebody somewhere was clearly “offended” by the threat posed by the case. If this is championing freedom of any sort I fail to recognize it. What should be recognized by anyone reading her ‘reasonable’ diatribe is the copious references to “bigotry” and “bigot”. These are the manipulating cognitive dissonance buzz words employed rigorously and constantly by the pro-Gay movement to condition the public’s mind and the Potter series has been more than instrumental in service to the same purpose. Now you know who Rowling is working for and why and why she periodically comes out to make comment on political issues. All for the Greater Cause of sheeple mind conditioning.

  • Frank Manella says:

    If what Trevor Philips says here is true, then Rowling has no place to talk and should keep her mouth shut!

  • Deh! says:

    But would stand up and defend herself for managing to create one of the dullest franchise in the history of movie franchises. Seriously each episode following the boy wizard and his pals from Hogwarts Academy as they fight assorted villains has been indistinguishable from the others. Aside from the gloomy imagery, the series’ only consistency has been its lack of excitement and ineffective use of special effects, all to make magic unmagical, to make action seem inert.

    Perhaps the die was cast when Rowling vetoed the idea of Spielberg directing the series; she made sure the series would never be mistaken for a work of art that meant anything to anybody?just ridiculously profitable cross-promotion for her books. The Harry Potter series might be anti-Christian (or not), but it’s certainly the anti-James Bond series in its refusal of wonder, beauty and excitement. No one wants to face that fact. Now, thankfully, they no longer have to.

    >a-at least the books were good though


    The writing is dreadful; the book was terrible. As I read, I noticed that every time a character went for a walk, the author wrote instead that the character “stretched his legs.”

    I began marking on the back of an envelope every time that phrase was repeated. I stopped only after I had marked the envelope several dozen times. I was incredulous. Rowling’s mind is so governed by cliches and dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing. Later I read a lavish, loving review of Harry Potter by the same Stephen King. He wrote something to the effect of, “If these kids are reading Harry Potter at 11 or 12, then when they get older they will go on to read Stephen King.” And he was quite right. He was not being ironic. When you read “Harry Potter” you are, in fact, trained to read Stephen King.

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