JK Rowling is embroiled in a high-profile row with author Joanne Harris after she claimed she didn’t support her when she received death threats over her views on transgender people.
Rowling’s allegations turn around chocolate the position of writer Harris as chairman of the Society of Authors Union; and Rowling’s controversial opinions on trans politics.
The saga began last weekend after the attack on British-Indian author Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed to death on stage in New York on Friday (12 August). Rowling was among the writers who offered support to Rushdie, saying she was disgusted by the attack.
The following day, Harris shared a multiple-choice poll with Twitter asking the writers whether they had all received a death threat, “credible or not.” The possible answers were: “Yes”, “Damn, yes” and “No, never”.
The fourth option was “Show me the fuck,” a comment Twitter users often add for people who don’t want to vote but want to see the results. Harris deleted the original post before reposting it without the word “credible.”
Following the attack on Rushdie, Rowling shared a screenshot in which she asked the platform Twitter for “some assistance” after receiving a death threat saying she would be “next” to be attacked. She said police were “already involved” in other threats against her.
Rowling has been repeatedly criticized for her statements about transgender people and has been accused of transphobia. The author has repeatedly dismissed the notion that she was “transphobic,” saying that she “knows and loves” trans people. However, her comments drew widespread criticism, and many of the Harry Potter cast members distanced themselves from the author.
As a result, many people suggested that Harris’ poll and follow-up tweet were a dig at Rowling. They interpreted the “show me the fuck” comment to mean they were asking Rowling for evidence of the death threats. Harris has denied this, saying she offered support to Rowling and “anyone in a similar situation.”
However, in a statement shared with The timesRowling said she received “no notice” from Harris when she received rape or death threats and asked Harris to step down as chair of the Society of Authors committee.
She then accused Harris of “consistently failing” to defend female writers who agreed with Rowling’s “personal position on gender identity ideology.”
Harris’ 29-year-old son Fred is trans. The author had mentioned “proud parents of a trans son” in her Twitter bio, but removed it after she was accused of being “biased” about freedom of expression.
“I find it impossible to reconcile the Society’s stated position on freedom of expression with Harris’ public statements over the last two years and stand in solidarity with all the female writers in the UK who are currently being betrayed by their professional body and its leader feel,” Rowling said.
In response, Harris said she never attacked Rowling, but has received death threats herself since being accused.
“This attack on me and my family by the usual suspects has nothing to do with @Soc_of_Authors but everything to do with my support of the trans community,” she tweeted on Tuesday (Aug. 16).
“I continue to support the trans community and advocate for free speech for all. There is no conflict. The people demanding my resignation or removal from @Soc_of_Authors don’t care about authors’ rights. Most of them aren’t even authors. They want me out because I believe trans people deserve the same rights, dignity and opportunities for happiness as everyone else.”
On Wednesday (August 17), the Society of Authors released a statement saying it was “absolutely committed” to defending authors who have been attacked for sharing their opinions.
“What we’ve seen over and over again in recent years is that polarized viewpoints have become the norm and that so much exchange takes place in online forums on complex issues where nuance and meaning are lost,” they wrote.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/jk-rowling-joanne-harris-transgender-b2147541.html JK Rowling: Harry Potter author’s argument with Joanne Harris over trans views explained