J.K. Rowling Defends Donald Trump’s Right to Free Speech
J.K. Rowling said at a literary gala in New York that while she finds everything Donald Trump says “objectionable,” she still defends his right to come to the U.K.
Referencing an online petition calling for the ban of Donald Trump from the U.K., the “Harry Potter” writer and creator told Pen America’s annual literary gala in New York that she supports the Republican presumptive nominee going to Britain to “be offensive and bigoted there,” reports The Guardian.
“If you seek the removal of freedoms from an opponent simply on the grounds that they have offended you, you have crossed a line to stand alongside tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justifications,” Rowling said.
Rowling received the 2016 Pen/Allen Foundation literary service award, an honor given to a writer who works to “oppose repression in any form and to champion the best of humanity.” She was honored for her advocacy for girls and women as a “fierce opponent of censorship.”
She warned that Trump’s ability to express free speech was just as important as anyone else’s:
“Unless we take that absolute position without caveats or apologies we have set foot upon a road with only one destination,” she told the New York audience.
“If my offended feelings can justify a travel ban on Donald Trump, I have no moral grounds 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.”
Rowling also reflected on the growing number of nationalist and populist movements whose “inconvenient voices” are met with demands for censorship:
“I worry that we may be in danger of allowing their erosion through sheer complacency. The tides of populism and nationalism currently sweeping many developed countries have been accompanied by demands that unwelcome and inconvenient voices be removed from public discourse. It seems that unless a commentator or a television channel or a newspaper reflects exactly the complainant’s world view it must be guilty of bias or corruption.”
Britain has been one of the most vocal international countries opposing Donald Trump, with Prime Minister David Cameron calling Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslims “divisive, stupid and wrong.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan—the first elected Muslim mayor of a major western city—has been critical of Trump, saying that that his views on Islam are “ignorant” and that he hopes the Republican nominee loses in November.