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JK Rowling: Donald Trump has a right to be bigoted

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Anna Pollitt
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JK Rowling has defended Donald Trump's right to be "offensive and bigoted."

The Harry Potter author, a vocal critic of the controversial Republican, took to the podium at the PEN Literary Gala and Free Expression Awards to discuss the importance of upholding rights to free speech.

Rowling, who was being honoured for her literary and humanitarian work, used her address to both take a swipe at Trump's views - and defend his right to have them.

She said that while she found the Republican party's presumptive presidential candidate “objectionable” she was concerned by a popular petition that called for him to be banned from entering the UK.

“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 justifications,” she told the audience in New York.

Last year half a million people added their names to an online petition to bar Trump, 69, from Britain after the he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

“I consider him offensive and bigoted, but he has my full support to come to my country and be offensive and bigoted there," the 50-year-old said. "His freedom to speak is my freedom to call him a bigot. His freedom guarantees mine.”

She continued: “If my offended feelings can justify a travel ban on Donald Trump, I have no moral grounds 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.”

“The tides of populism and nationalism currently sweeping many developed countries have been accompanied by demands that unwelcome and inconvenient voices be removed from public discourse,” she said.

“It seems that unless a commentator or a television channel or a newspaper reflects exactly the complainant’s world view it must be guilty of bias or corruption.”

The writer's personal dislike of Trump's rhetoric is well documented. She branded him worse than her fictional villain Voldemort in a tweet last year, and in January she tweeted a link to her seven million followers showing an offensive comment Trump's spokesman made about President Barack Obama.

Skip to 1:48 to watch Rowling's speech:

  • Life according to JK Rowling

    "Books are like mirrors: if a fool looks in, you cannot expect a genius to look out."

  • Life according to JK Rowling

    "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default."

  • Life according to JK Rowling

    "I think you're working and learning until you die. I can with my hand on my heart say I will never write for any reason other than I burningly wanted to write the book."

  • Life according to JK Rowling

    "I don't believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."

  • Life according to JK Rowling

    "Money is not something that interests me, and there have been lots of opportunities to do things that make more money, and I've said no."

  • Life according to JK Rowling

    "I think it's a curious thing being me, because it was all an accident and then, when you become very successful, people assume there was a game plan."

  • Life according to JK Rowling

    "The middle class is so funny, it's the class I know best, and it's the class where you find the most pretension, so that's what makes the middle classes so funny."

  • Life according to JK Rowling

    (on the Edinburgh flat where she began writing the Harry Potter series) "I feel I really became myself here. Everything was stripped away. I’d made such a mess of things. I just thought I want to write so I wrote the book."

  • Life according to JK Rowling

    "I imagined being a famous writer would be like being Jane Austen, able to sit at home in the parsonage and your books would be very famous."

  • Life according to JK Rowling

    (On her celebrity status) "I never wanted it and I never expected it and I certainly never worked for it. I see it as something I have to get through really."

Images: Rex Features

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Anna Pollitt

Anna is a freelance writer and editor who’s been making her dime from online since 2007. She’s a regular at Stylist.co.uk, ITV News and Emerald Street and moonlights as a copywriter and digital content consultant. The baby is borrowed.

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