The Witch Trials Of JK Rowling: JK Rowling criticises ‘black-and-white thinking’ in new podcast that addresses backlash over transgender comments
The Harry Potter author, 57, appears in a new series, The Witch Trials Of JK Rowling, and the first two episodes were released on Tuesday.
Rowling has been criticised for her staunch views on gender identity, explaining that she was partly motivated to speak out because of her experience of domestic abuse and sexual assault, but has strongly denied accusations of transphobia.
In the second episode, author and activist Megan Phelps-Roper who hosts the podcast, examined the impact of the Harry Potter books – which were criticised by some Christian groups in the US – explaining there was a “clear presence” of good and evil in the franchise before asking Rowling: “How do you discern when a behaviour falls on one side of that line or the other?”
Rowling said: “That is such a deep question and it goes to the heart of Potter and it goes to the heart of much of my world view.
“There’s a huge appeal, and I try to show this in the Potter books, to black-and-white thinking. It’s the easiest place to be and in many ways, it’s the safest place to be. If you take an all-or-nothing position on anything, you will definitely find comrades, you will easily find a community – ‘I’ve sworn allegiance to this one simple idea’.
“What I tried to show in the the Potter books and what I feel very strongly myself, we should mistrust ourselves the most when we are certain. And we should question ourselves most when we receive a rush of adrenaline by doing or saying something.
“Many people mistake that rush of adrenaline for the voice of conscience. In my world view, conscience speaks in a very small and inconvenient voice, and it’s normally saying to you ‘Think again, look more deeply, consider this’.”
The podcast episode titled Chapter One: Plotted In Darkness opened with Rowling discussing the backlash she received after sharing her views on gender identity, saying: “I never set out to upset anyone. However, I was not uncomfortable with getting off my pedestal.
“And what has interested me in the last 10 years and certainly in the last few years, particularly on social media ‘You’ve ruined your legacy, oh you could have been beloved forever but you chose to say this’ and I think you could not have misunderstood me more profoundly.
“I do not walk around my house thinking about my legacy, what a pompous way to live your life walking around thinking about what my legacy will be. Whatever. I’ll be dead. I care about now. I care about the living.”
Rowling previously tweeted that she had agreed to take part in the project, after being approached by former member of the Westboro Baptist Church Phelps-Roper, because she felt the pair could have a “real, interesting, two-sided conversation that might prove constructive”.
After leaving the Westboro Baptist Church in 2012, known for its hateful views and frequent protests against the LGBT community and other marginalised communities, Phelps-Roper wrote Unfollow which details her experience of “loving and leaving extremism”.