J.K. Rowling defends Trump’s right to be as bigoted as he wants
J.K. Rowling once called Donald Trump worse than Voldemort but that doesn’t mean she won’t defend his right to be as “offensive and bigoted” as he wants.
Preaching the same kind of acceptance and tolerance that she taught in her Harry Potter books, Rowling urged the audience at the PEN America Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City to not try to silence the presumptive GOP front-runner.
“Intolerance of alternative viewpoints is spreading to places that make me, a moderate and a liberal, most uncomfortable,” Rowling said. “Only last year, we saw an online petition to ban Donald Trump from entry to the U.K.”
The audience erupted into cheers and laughter at the mention of this petition, which has garnered about 500,000 signatures and even been debated in British Parliament. But Rowling interrupted the cheers to argue against this kind of extreme behavior, stating that if people want to take away the freedom of an opponent just because they’re offended, they “have crossed the line to stand alongside tyrants who imprison, torture, and kill on exactly the same justification.”
Rowling continued, “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.”
In essence, Rowling is urging people to be open to all speech, bigoted or not. Because if we refuse to listen to certain perspectives or opinions, we will only become afraid of them.
You can watch Rowling’s full speech, which was her acceptance speech for the 2016 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award, an annual award give to an author whose work embodies PEN’s mission to oppose repression in any form and champion the best of humanity.