It is common knowledge that JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, is no fan of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Trump's evil is akin to that of Lord Voldemort, in her eyes. However, on 16 May, while addressing Pen America's annual literary gala in New York, she defended Donald Trump's right to be offensive and bigoted, while driving home a crucial point about freedom of speech.
Talking about a petition that was launched in December 2015, calling for Trump being barred from visiting the UK, Rowling said she is in full support of Trump bringing his offensive and bigoted self to the UK. She said, that even though she thinks that Donald Trump makes objectionable statements more often than not, limiting his entry into the UK would be an infringement on his freedom.
Rowling went on to clarify that despite the fact that Trump makes offensive statements, curbing his freedom of speech would then take away the right to call him a bigot. Granting Trump the freedom to express his views, no matter how outrageous they are, guarantees the right to critique him. A fierce opponent of censorship, Rowling very articulately broke down how the US Presidential hopeful's freedom, in turn, guarantees hers.
"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," the novelist was quoted as saying in a Guardian report.
"Unless we take that absolute position without caveats or apologies we have set foot upon a road with only one destination," she said. "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".
Expressing concern over the growing intolerance towards alternative viewpoints, Rowling pointed out how the West often ends up taking their freedom for granted. "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", she explained.
You can watch the full video of her speech here:
J K Rowling was at the Pen event to receive the 2016 Pen/Allen Foundation literary service award, an honour given to a writer who works to oppose repression in any form and to champion the best of humanity.