J. K. Rowling, author of the outrageously successful Harry Potter series, would no doubt be hailed as a first-class WINNER by Donald Trump. With her entertaining stories about bright young wizards, she has shown herself to be a wizard in her own right, one with a unique kind of creative magic that spawned an empire of children’s books, movies and merchandise. And the never-give-up attitude that led to her eventual success is one that any billionaire business mogul can respect.
But Rowling has made her fortune with words --- and she doesn’t like the way Donald Trump uses them. She finds almost everything he says to be bigoted and offensive. For that reason, one might assume that she added her name to last year’s petition in favor of banning Trump from entry to the U.K.
One would be wrong.
Exercising her own freedom of speech from the podium, she said, in part, “If my offended feelings can justify a ban on Donald Trump, I have no moral grounds to argue that those offended by feminism, or the fight 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 alongside tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justification. He has my full support…to come to my country, and be offensive and bigoted there.”
Granted, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of Donald Trump. (And headline writers who implied as much need to re-take Journalism 101.) Rather, it was an endorsement of freedom of speech, as a concept. As liberal as her opinions may be on some issues, her views on speech would clearly be unacceptable on many American college campuses today. A petition to deny someone deemed politically incorrect the opportunity to express his or her views on campus? Plenty of college students would say, “Sure! Where do I sign?”
So Donald Trump is free to speak. And with such a variety of outlets available, every person is free to listen, consider, and debate what he has to say, or simply tune him out. The more people listen and discuss what they hear, the more productive the political conversation will be. In fact, let’s hope J. K. Rowling will stay engaged; she may find that even though she emphatically does not like Trump’s style --- she has said he’s worse than her villain Voldemort --- he does make some sense on some important issues. Or she may not. Let’s mix all the speech together in a steaming cauldron and see what happens.