Stanford Review: JKR Not a Transphobe – And It’s Not a ThoughtCrime to Say So

Maxwell Meyer has written an opinion piece for The Stanford Review, ‘Stanford’s Independent Newspaper,’ under the headline: ‘A Harry Potter-themed Stanford dorm panics over “transphobic, anti-semitic, and racist” J.K. Rowling.’ His Stanford University dormitory, it seems, has a Harry Potter theme with its students being sorted into the famous four Houses at Hogwarts. This year that meant special comment had to be made during orientation to distance this theme from the radioactive opinions of J. K. Rowling. Meyer reports that

student staff read the following statement during our first virtual house meeting:

“We want to acknowledge that J.K. Rowling has made many transphobic, anti-semitic, and racist statements over the past year. Her beliefs do not reflect our values as a house, and we want to make it clear that we do not tolerate comments like hers in this dorm. Our theme… is intended to make this space safe and fun for you this quarter.”

His editorial first makes the straightforward points of showing the absurdity of the claims that Rowling has ever made “transphobic, anti-semitic, and racist statements.” He then puts these claims into the context of the “moral panic” of our times and challenges the Stanford University community to stand up to the know-better bullies on campus who are policing thought and restricting the open exchange of ideas:

The scapegoating of a children’s fantasy author for fabricated claims of racism is a very bad sign at a university, even if she’s very wealthy and secure in her livelihood, as Rowling is. But I’m not worried about protecting a billionaire; I’m worried for the students who are expected to learn in an environment where false claims of bigotry are not just acceptable, but official policy.

This brings me to the most chilling part of the house theme statement: the implied threat that if you don’t join the witch hunt, you’ll become the next target. “Her beliefs do not reflect our values as a house, and we want to make it clear that we do not tolerate comments like hers in this dorm.”

We weren’t asked whether J.K. Rowling’s beliefs reflect our values, we were told that they don’t. No examples of “comments like hers” were given, but we were still warned that they won’t be tolerated. Just what sorts of comments do they mean — perhaps the “anti-semitic and racist” ones that they made up?

Like J.K. Rowling, I believe in both equal rights for trans people and the reality of sex as a category. If that now constitutes thoughtcrime at Stanford, then I should probably start packing my bags. I think we deserve to know the position of university leadership on this issue, including the faculty and administrators who are responsible for our residential education. Is Stanford a safe space for thought, or from it?

Three cheers for Maxwell Meyer for writing this editorial, for The Stanford Review for publishing it, and for the University Security officers assigned to protect him (or escort him and his packed bags to the bus station).

Charles MacKay, author of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, described today’s risibly counter-productive “moral panic” about racism and our gullibility about all things related to Covid-19 with this 1841 bon mot about human behavior: “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.” We can be thankful that writers like Maxwell Meyer have the courage to speak to the mad herd, to include the Madhouse Wing of Harry Potter fandom, with the power of the plain truth. May his courage and clear statements help those who believe the Big Lie that Rowling is a bigot to come to their senses, one by one.



  1. Wayne Stauffer says

    Hear Hear!!

  2. This is beautiful, a true ray of light in the darkness.

Speak Your Mind