Point-Counterpoint: Has Rowling or the Media Been Seduced by the Dark Side?

Point: Sarah Wheaten at Politico’s The metamorphosis of J.K. Rowling: When it comes to trans rights, some fans believe the Harry Potter author is more Death Eater than Dumbledore.

“Many of you may be aware of JK Rowling’s recent tweets concerning transgender issues,” reads an explanation on the tour group’s website. “It’s a difficult time to be a Harry Potter fan for many but we sincerely wish JK Rowling’s views not to diminish our appreciation of the books and their messages of inclusion and tolerance.”

The disclaimer is a quiet but unambiguous protest against Rowling’s buzziest body of work since her blockbuster series of schoolboy sorcery. It’s also a tiny but telling example of how, in a few short years, the author has gone from being an unobjectionable matron of the political left to one of its most hated villains.

Rowling’s views — and her willingness to exchange biting blows with her online critics — have been denounced by fans as transphobic, a betrayal of the values of tolerance they learned from her books. Stars of the Harry Potter movies have disavowed her statements; celebrities have taken their distance; major websites devoted to the wizarding world have said they’d stop writing about her. (On the other side of the spectrum, Russian President Vladimir Putin has bemoaned that she’s been “canceled.”)

None of this seems to have given Rowling pause — or done much to put a crimp in her commercial prospects. Twenty-five years after the publication of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” her books continue to fly off the shelves. The third installment of the Harry Potter spin-off “Fantastic Beasts” hit theaters in March. If anything, as the criticism has mounted, Rowling has only become more combative, cheerfully retweeting her detractors to trigger pile-ons from fellow thinkers.

The [‘Metamorphosis’ piece by Sarah Wheaten] however, is so beneath the writer and Politico. It is not a profile but a sloppy attack on Rowling. There is no attempt made to understand the arguments around all this or the differing contexts. Why this now?

Possibly because actually a lot more people are waking up to what is going on. There is no mention that Warner Bros are making it clear they now back Rowling, that many sporting bodies are rethinking their stand on trans athletes, that here The Cass Review is unlikely to recommend the US gung-ho approach to puberty blockers as its interim report said “There is lack of consensus and open discussion about the nature of gender dysphoria and therefore about the appropriate clinical response.”… All of this means  that Rowling’s position and that of many gender critical women does not appear to be so eccentric. Nor is it transphobic.

We want the best for young women and we want single sex spaces.

However we all know what has happened to Rowling. Wheaten makes her position clear writing “Transgender women are women ,” proclaimed Daniel Radcliffe, schooling the woman, 25 years his senior” . He schooled her? Really.

Wheaten seems obsessed with legacy when Rowling has made it clear she knows what she is doing and what she believes. She seemed worried about my legacy too [Wheaton interviewed Moore and discussed her in the Politico article – ed.] suggesting that I did not have much support when I left The Guardian. This was not the case at all.

She calls me “a pariah” which is rather over the top considering I have maintained and furthered my writing career. Bizarrely she describes the lunch we had [at the River Cafe earlier this year], which was a load of fun, in language redolent of the most rancid Daily Mail style “With glossy red hair and a plunging neckline, Rowling out-glammed them all, even as the poses got sloppier with each bottle of wine”.

What is this crap? Was Rowling flaunting her enviable assets? Were we women laughing with wine instead of salad ? Call the police? Has Wheaten ever met a lesbian or women who were not trying to out-glam other women because many of the ladies who lunched were shock horror gay!!

Who knows? This piece on Rowling is sour, ill-informed and silly in so many ways and a real waste of an opportunity to explore the issues.  Hatchet jobs are usually at least sharp. Wheaten’s knife is blunted.

Scorecard: Rita Skeeter at Politico wins on reader points because her platform is enormous compared to Moore’s; few readers will find Moore’s substack piece that reveals the original article as a deliberate hatchet job. Rowling may not be subject to cancellation or blacklisting and she may be winning the war in the UK for vulnerable young women and for single-sex spaces; she remains an open target for media know-betters who continue to carry water for transgender activists and extremists.


  1. Rebecca N says

    Rowling definitely had the media pegged by the time she wrote Rita Skeeter in Goblet of Fire.

    I heard an interesting comment recently about how the left have little loyalty in attacking their own and how it’s hurting them politically. Just an observation.

  2. If you want to see a sad ‘for instance’ of this kind of liberal “circular firing squad,” one Rowling has discussed herself previously, check out her tweets today that are an open attack on a person who has done more than almost any other man — and suffered abuse, calumny, and threats of violence equivalent to those Rowling has without her castle to retreat to — to combat transgender over reach because, as a Christian and conservative, he is insufficiently feminist and therefore anathema to her.

    This puritanical streak among leftists, the drive that brings murderous purges in the wake of every political revolution, is in full evidence here. Does everyone who joins Rowling in her efforts to protect young women from the rip-tide among adolescents to embrace transgenderism and to preserve safe spaces for women also have to embrace the murder of unborn children and lesbianism? Rowling seems to think so — and she does the cause she has been courageously advancing no small harm in the process of casting out those who are working to achieve the same ends albeit for different reasons.

    One wishes she would read a biography of Nat Hentoff, who, though a self proclaimed liberal Jewish atheist, made common cause with traditional Christians he despised on all other issues to stand up for civil liberty causes that were his life’s passion. Or maybe she could just stop with the posturing that only she is the bulwark standing against this flood of gender nonsense. She isn’t — and those standing with her on the barricades don’t have to conform to her standards of strident, even murderous feminism to be part of that resistance.

    Tragic that she has decided to form the circular firing squad instead. I don’t doubt that Walsh will continue his heroic efforts despite Rowling’s frenetic efforts to distance herself from him, but what a waste of effort and of a potential quasi-alliance between left and right for the sake of self-righteousness and ideological puritanism…

  3. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Potter-popularity/shared-text ‘piggybacking’?: I just encountered a post on a 13 June Teen Vogue article, ‘How to Hex the Patriarchy: A Spell for Reproductive Justice’. Tierin-Rose Mandelburg quotes from the article, “In the late 1960s, the movement group Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (also known as W.I.T.C.H.) organized protests to push back against the patriarchy and to fight for women’s rights. They had several spin-off covens throughout the country, composed of radical feminists who wanted to expose capitalism as the true enemy of women’s freedom.” And now “the witches of #WitchTok are supposedly ‘taking aim at the members of the Supreme Court'”.

  4. Rebecca N says


    Yes, sadly, case in point with Matt Walsh and other Conservatives. Honestly,  it took me a bit to even understand why JKR is against working with people who are concerned about the same issue. If you want the same thing about the same issue, even if you disagree about everything else, maybe it’s good to work together, especially with an issue that is rapidly spinning further and further out of control.

    This is not an excuse for her, but when J.K. Rowling attacks people on Twitter and puts them in verbal peril and possibly physical danger, I genuinely don’t think she understands that she’s J.K. Rowling and that her attacking them is different then most anyone else attacking them. There’s no other novelist that comes close to her level of prominence. It’s even a little hard for me to figure out if she’s at like a Tom Hanks level or Prince Harry level as I’m am, even in the cheap seats of the (generally) a fan section, already far too close.

    It actually reminds me of Strike’s theory that Cynthia Phipps can’t understand why a beheading joke is in poor taste; she’s too close to the situation. Such wisdom and yet…

    David, interesting shared text!

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