While accepting an award on Monday at the PEN America Literary Gala, J.K. Rowling defended Donald Trump’s freedom of speech and responded to anti-LGBT critics.
The Harry Potter author told the audience that free speech must be protected at all costs, even if that means defending the “offensive and bigoted” Trump, reports The Wall Street Journal.
“His freedom to speak protects my freedom to call him a bigot,” the author explained as she accepted the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award. The author clarified her position, saying:
“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.”
Rowling, who is known for advocating for LGBT rights, referenced the ways in which her books have been attacked by various critics. “I was once confronted by a Christian fundamentalist in a toy shop here in New York. I had no idea the phrase, ‘I’m praying for you,’ could sound so intimidating,” she said. “A bomb threat was once made to a store at which I was appearing.”
Her books have been criticized by the notoriously anti-LGBT pastor Kevin Swanson, who has called for gays to be sentenced to death. He once condemned Rowling’s gay Harry Potter character, saying in a speech: “America, repent that Dumbledore emerged as a homosexual mentor for Harry Potter.” Swanson also claimed a few months ago that children should be drowned rather than allowed to read the ‘Satanic’ books last year.
Responding to what some consider to be remarks delivered by Swanson, Rowling said: “My critics are at liberty to claim that I’m trying to convert children to Satanism. And I’m free to explain that I’m exploring human nature and morality, or to say, “You’re an idiot,” depending on which side of the bed I got out of that day.”
Rowling said her books are on lists of those most frequently banned, but it doesn’t bother her. “Such lists feature many of my favorite writers, I’ve always been very flattered to be included,” she said.