J.K. Rowling delivered a powerful speech at the 2016 PEN Literary Awards Gala Monday where the Harry Potter author condemned Donald Trump yet defended the mogul’s right to speak freely.
“I find almost everything that Mr. Trump says objectionable,” Rowling said. “I consider him offensive and bigoted. But he has my full support to come to my country and be offensive and bigoted there.”
Rowling criticized both liberals and moderates for threatening to impose travel bans. After Trump called for a travel ban on all Muslims entering the U.S., British citizens responded with their own petition seeking to prevent Trump from entering the United Kingdom. Although that petition was done in jest to make a statement, Rowling argued that banning Trump from the UK would build upon the same hateful rhetoric.
“If my offended feelings can constitute a travel ban on Donald Trump, I have no moral grounds on which to argue that those offended by feminism or the right for transgender rights or universal suffrage should not oppress campaigners for those causes,” Rowling said. “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 along tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justification.”
Rowling also blamed the media for giving a megaphone to divisive, dangerous beliefs. “The tides of populism and nationalism currently sweeping many developed countries have been accompanied by demands that unwelcome or inconvenient voices be removed from public discourse,” the author said. “Mainstream media has become a term of abuse in some quarters. It seems that unless a commentator or television channel or newspaper reflects exactly the complainers worldview, it must be guilty of bias or corruption.”
Watch Rowling’s entire speech starting at the 1 hour and 49-minute mark in the video below (via Mashable):