Defending J.K. Rowling on Twitter
MuggleNet recently put up an article criticizing J.K. Rowling’s biting responses to Twitter trolls, with which I vehemently disagreed. The article claims that Rowling’s caustic replies are “unusual for a woman who preaches lessons of love and acceptance through the world of Harry Potter.”
Rowling has certainly taught many of us lessons about love and acceptance, but I don’t think that colors her snappy retorts as out of character. These socially unstable times have deeply affected all of us, Rowling included. Omitting the political context of her responses to these Twitter trolls ignores the fact that Rowling sees the current political climate as akin to the one Voldemort created in the Potter series. Each tweet analyzed in the article came from Trump supporters and others personally attacking Rowling and her work because of her political beliefs.
Whether you agree with her or not, Rowling has publicly claimed that Trump is worse than Voldemort. Those people she called out on Twitter support an ideology that Rowling believes is just as toxic as Voldemort’s. Is it really that surprising that she is responding with this level of ferocity?
Even Harry Potter, a boy so selfless he was willing to give his life for his friends, had a fair share of morally questionable moments throughout the series. He used Unforgivable Curses on multiple occasions: He cast the Cruciatus Curse on Bellatrix in Order of the Phoenix and the Imperius Curse on Travers and Bogrod during Deathly Hallows. You could argue that Harry used these in a state of blind grief and out of necessity for the wizarding world, but what about when he cast the Cruciatus Curse on Amycus Carrow during Deathly Hallows? Carrow’s crime worthy of torture was spitting on Professor McGonagall. Was the Cruciatus Curse really necessary? Wouldn’t Stunning him have been just as effective?
I draw on these examples, particularly the Carrow one, to emphasize the fact that I do believe some of the things Rowling says are mean-spirited. We’re talking about the woman who wrote every one of Harry’s sassiest moments and Ron’s cruel, foul-mouthed rants. She is more than capable of delivering witty, barbed-wire insults at the drop of a hat. I just don’t believe that this is out of character for her or even inherently wrong, all given the context.
In a world she sees as fraught with danger, Rowling is fighting back against an ideological illness that threatens to trump the principles of love and acceptance that Harry and his friends fought so desperately to protect in the Potter series. Make no mistake – they had to fight to protect their values. They had to kill. During the final battle, Harry didn’t cast the Disarming Charm believing that somehow Voldemort wouldn’t end up dead at the end of the struggle.
J.K. Rowling taught many of us the importance of love and acceptance, but she also taught us to stand up for ourselves and the things we believe in. Responding to these Twitter trolls without holding back shows people that they’re allowed to defend themselves. Not everyone who attacks you will listen to reason. Not everyone who attacks you will want to come to a compromise because you decided to take the high road. Not everyone who attacks you will be hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet.
Even if these people aren’t physically threatening Rowling, her actions set an example for those who see themselves faced with such dangers. Don’t back down when someone threatens you and the things you stand for; stand your ground, have a little courage, and fight back with all your might.