There was once a powerful sorceress who cast her magical spells to the delight of her acolytes, not to mention those for whom she conjured gold from the air around her. The sorceress then turned her attention to other matters important to her and cast other spells over these. But not everyone was as enamoured with these spells as they had been with her earlier ones. Some said she was a misanthrope who should no longer be casting spells, especially ones they did not agree with. Her new spells, they said, were designed to hurt and harm others, and were spreading hate. (They said this because they didn’t know hate was a verb and not a noun.) They responded to the sorceress with incantations of their own: a Cancelorium Censorium curse that would see her immediately silenced and eventually withered away to nothing. They wished fulsomely for her to be banned from ever casting spells again. The sorceress said she did not intend harm to anyone but needed to preserve something of the old magic she believed in.
Some of her detractors then appealed to the self-appointed Ministry of Freedom and Truth (MOFT) who took up the case, protesting to Professors Bloomsbury and T. Witter, asking them to shut down the sorceress’ means of casting her spells. But these professors, especially Bloomsbury, were among those for whom the sorceress had created much gold from nothing and they were loathe to cancel her. So they did not.
The Ministry then appealed to the Council of Wizards to write new rules that would, in the twinkling of an eye, render the sorceress’ spells ‘black art’ and so forbid them from ever being uttered again, anywhere, on pain of imprisonment in Azerbaijan or even the deathly gallows themselves. But the Ministry had forgotten that the last time the Council had been given the power to regulate what others could say it had introduced the infamous Incantation 28 that had prevented anyone from even mentioning that left-handed witches and wizards existed. It was not wise to consider embarking on such a road again. Fortunately, the Council was preoccupied with magicking away a pestilence that was stalking the land and had no time for quarrelsome spats between well meaning, but offended defenders of Freedom and Truth and controversial conjurors.
So the sorceress continued to cast her spells, while others continued to object to her doing so. Still others helped her create even more gold by buying her latest books about a striking shambling eccentric who was just the same as the striking shambling eccentric in her earlier books of wizardry and witchcraft. There was also a volume about an anthropomorphised farm animal that did rather well too, though some deemed it hateful to those who held such animals in low regard. Little wonder the sorceress shrugged her shoulders and set to creating another spell that, she had no doubt, would offend someone somewhere.
Enough frivolity. Where do I stand on these matters? As a trustee of an LGBT+ organisation, I am actively involved in the support of trans as well as gay, lesbian and questioning people. While I don’t necessarily agree with J. K. Rowling’s views on trans issues that she expresses on Twitter, I do believe she has the right to express them.
As part of a minority that has frequently been subject to censorship in the past, I cannot endorse the silencing of dissenting voices. Once we start to do that it becomes only a matter of time before it’s our turn again. If we want to be critical of religion and those who practise it, if we want to comment on politics, and challenge those who do indeed espouse hatred; if we want to have a view on anything at all, we have to accept that others have the same right to express their opinions on matters that are dear to us.