Why J.K. Rowling Just Gave Her 'Full Support' to Donald Trump

May 17th 2016

Tricia Tongco

J.K. Rowling has given her "full support" to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

But don’t let your Harry Potter-loving heart sink just yet. The author was definitely not endorsing Trump during the comments she made at the Pen Literary Gala & Free Expression Awards.

Instead she was using the controversial figure to discuss her stance on freedom of speech.

Rowling herself is no stranger to censorship.

A stack of Harry Potter books

Her “Harry Potter” series has been accused of luring children into the occult and satanism, prompting some religious parents to request the books be banned from schools. In fact, “Harry Potter” tops the list of banned books, reports the New York Times.

Her speech began:

"Only last year we saw an online petition to ban Donald Trump from entry into the UK.It garnered half a million signatures."

Cue the sigh of relief.

Rowling continued:

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 constitute a travel ban on Donald Trump, I have no moral grounds on which to argue that those offended by feminism or the right 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 the grounds that they have offended you, you have crossed a line to stand along tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justification.

The online petition that Rowling refers to calls for a ban on Trump traveling to the UK based on the candidate's alleged “hate speech."

Here's how the U.K. Public Order Act of 1986 lays out the rules for hate speech:

Use of words or behaviour or display of written material.

(1)A person who uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, is guilty of an offence if—

(a)he intends thereby to stir up racial hatred, or

(b)having regard to all the circumstances racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby.

While Britain's parliament debated the petition, it has not yet been called to a vote.


Ironically, Rowling’s stance on free speech is much more reflective of the United States’ position.

Writing for the Washington Post, Eugene Volokh explains hateful words are just as protected under the First Amendment all others.

"One is as free to condemn Islam — or Muslims, or Jews, or blacks, or whites, or illegal aliens, or native-born citizens — as one is to condemn capitalism or Socialism or Democrats or Republicans," Volokh writes.

In fact, Trump's American supporters have listed the candidate's willingness to embrace the First Amendment's license to offend among his most commendable qualities.

Though Rowling isn't condoning Trump's comments, she does seem to be expressing the distinctly American perspective that he's fully entitled to his "hateful" views.

Watch the full video here:

[h/t Vox]