J.K. Rowling would like to clarify that she does not like or approve of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. At Monday night's annual Pen Literary Gala in New York City, Rowling told the crowd she finds him to be "objectionable," "offensive and bigoted," but she wouldn't support barring him from the United Kingdom on those grounds, as has been suggested.
Instead, she welcomed the Donald to come "be offensive and bigoted" in her native U.K.
The Harry Potter author said leveraging Trump's hate speech to ban him from the country would set a dangerous precedent, condoning the censorship of viewpoints that conflict with one's own.
"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 alongside tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justifications," she said.
In January, the British parliament spent two hours deliberating over whether or not to ban Trump from entering the U.K., after a petition demanding he not be allowed in garnered well over its target 100,000 signatures. Rowling, whose work for gender equality and against censorship won her 2016's Pen/Allen Foundation literary service award, maintained that Trump's freedom to speak "protects my freedom to call him a bigot."
"Unless we take that absolute position without caveats or apologies we have set foot upon a road with only one destination," she said. "If my offended feelings can justify a travel ban on Donald Trump, I have no moral grounds on which to argue that those offended by feminism, or the fight for transgender rights, or universal suffrage, should not oppress campaigners for those causes."
Rowling wrapped her speech with a plea for Tal al-Mallouhi, a young Syrian currently imprisoned for blogging about "freedom, peace and tolerance," according to her Pen profile. "Long may Pen continue to fight for her," Rowling said, "and for the freedoms on which a liberal society rests, without which no literature can have value."