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J.K. Rowling

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Joanne Rowling, (1965–) pen name J(ust) K(idding) Rowling[note 1] and sometimes known as [1] the male writer Robert Galbraith,[note 2] is a British author, former billionaire,[2] and prominent TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) sympathiser. Since becoming a vocal TERF, she has been known among some fans as "she who must not be named".[3] She went from hailed author of the beloved Harry Potter series to a fallen hero who now spends her time defending hate speech as sacred and untouchable.

Harry Potter series[edit]

The logo
Harry's world says that drinking dead animal blood gives power, a satanic human sacrifice and Harry's powerful blood brings new life, demon possession is not spiritually dangerous, and that passing through fire, contacting the dead, and conversing with ghosts, others in the spirit world, and more, is normal and acceptable.
Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged, a DVD incapable of making a distinction between fantasy novels and the occult or even getting what is in said novels right.

Harry Potter, a series of seven (or so) fantasy novels by British author J.K. Rowling, relates the adventures of a teenage boy and of his two best friends who attend a school of "witchcraft and wizardry", learning a whole range of magical skills and fighting Dark Magic and evil, and demonstrates how Alan Rickman got snubbed of another Oscar.[4]

The series portrays Good triumphing over Evil. It became a literary and critical success; nevertheless, fundamentalist religious groups condemn it as a harmful work that will seduce children into the occult and witchcraft. In the United States (the so-called "great land of liberty") the books have become the most challenged of the 21st century.[5] Fortunately for Harry Potter fans, magic and witchcraft are only a concern if you're stuck in the 17th century or living in Africa, Indonesia, or Papua New Guinea in the present century.

The response to the books represents an excellent example of modern-day fundamentalism and would-be authoritarianism, with numerous attempts to ban the books.

Commercialisation[edit]

The commercialisation of the Harry Potter series by capitalist industries, especially by Hollywood and the media, has been criticised. Scholar Jack Zipes critiqued the mass commercialisation and corporate hegemony behind the Harry Potter franchise, likening such hegemony to a form of cultural imperialism. In his Adornean analysis of Harry Potter's global brand, Zipes wrote, "It must conform to the standards of exception set by the mass media and promoted by the culture industry in general. To be a phenomenon means that a person or commodity must conform to the hegemonic groups that determine what makes up a phenomenon".[6]

Themes[edit]

Scholars have subjected the Harry Potter novels to serious social scrutiny, with studies of the series' political intricacies performed by columnists, professors, and doctoral students alike. As of 2007, the catalog of the Library of Congress has recorded 21 volumes of criticism and interpretation, and at least seven master's dissertations and 17 doctoral theses have been devoted to the Harry Potter books. Seriously.[7]

Avada Kedavra!

From the concepts of hierarchy and purity found in the relations between pure-blooded and muggle-born wizards to the struggle for House-Elf freedom, equality is a central theme of the books. It portrays dishonest and incompetent government and media and paints war as a great evil in which innocent people die. The school which Harry attends, Hogwarts, is multicultural, multiracial, and (seemingly) secular. Some critics have, however, called the books patronising and conservative,[8] or sexist and neoconservative.[9] This is odd since Rowling herself is a staunch Labour supporter (though was very critical of Jeremy Corbyn).

Rowling also outed Dumbledore, one of the stories' most important characters, saying "I like to think of him as gay." Notably, she did so not in the text of the books, but during a PR event after the release of the final novel.[10] This must rank as one of the greatest achievements in having one's cake and eating it too since Rowling gets credit for standing up for LGBT recognition without damaging her book sales or outraging her readership in a world where gay central characters are still a rarity in mainstream literature and taboo in children's fiction. She later revealed herself to be a supporter of the TERF cause, though.[11][12]

Unrelated controversies include comparisons to some older book series such as the Howl's Moving Castle and Wizard's Hall (The Worst Witch is the most commented-on), which have resulted in accusations of plagiarism, or (far worse) being derivative. The works feature frumpy and disaster-prone protagonists, a couple of loyal best-friends (one book-smart and rational, one street-smart and slightly problematic), a blond and rich but cowardly and rather inefficient rival, a scary and seemingly unfair potions-teacher with hidden depths, a childish headmaster with a penchant for candy, and a big bad-guy who desires the destruction of the protagonist after their fateful first encounter. Whether this is more than just a re-hashing of tropes is a matter of debate.[13] Some fans, especially older ones, also believe that Rowling's later additions to the franchise are inferior to the original seven novels, with some outright comparing her work to that of George Lucas on the later Star Wars films,[14] though one could hardly throw a rock within geek culture without running into similar complaints regarding one particular franchise or another.

Rowling is a Christian herself. The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, contains an epigraph from the Gospels (Matthew 6:21), Harry's parents' gravestones display another Bible quote (1 Corinthians 15:26) and Rowling also has a scene where Harry sacrifices his own life and is resurrected and then proceeds to save everybody.[note 3]

Slavery apologism, AIDSwolves of London, and other nasties[edit]

One of the most understated parts of the book series is the portrayal of slavery and abolitionism. One of the main characters, Hermione Granger, seeks to abolish slavery and gets mocked for it. The enslaved group, the house elves, are portrayed as comical relief and themselves show hostility to the only slave who sought freedom.[15] Thankfully, this portrayal of slavery is almost completely removed from the films, with only Dobby (who only appears in the adaptation of Chamber of Secrets (where he is freed from the Malfoys) and Deathly Hallows (where he dies)) and Kreacher (where any mentions of Harry owning him are scrapped), likely as a result of the screenwriters noticing "Hey, this part's kinda weird."

Another point of contention is the portrayal of lycanthropy as a possible AIDS metaphor, considering that the character Remus Lupin contracted the disease by being assaulted by an adult man when he was a child. Rowling attempted to retract this analogy or obfuscate, but the results were mixed.[16][17][18]

Antisemitism?[edit]

Some folks say that the goblins, who are portrayed as greedy bankers with long noses, are a Jewish caricature.[19] Other folks say that it is far from the first time goblins have been portrayed as any of these. Antisemitic depictions of bankers/finance is rather routine; it's not unlikely that Rowling simply built upon what she had grown up on rather than anything intentional.

Fundamentalist response[edit]

Oh noes!

There have been dozens of legal cases concerning copyright infringement, libel, and breach of contract involving the Potterworld. Flocks of religious leaders (plus Jack Chick) have fulminated against the series.

Note however that many moderate and some evangelical Christians have spoken out in favour of the books. While the Catholic Church has no official position, many Cardinals oppose the books. It seems that once people make the distinction between fiction and real belief in magic, they can see past any objections to demons and witchcraft to realise what the series supports.

Islamic fundamentalists have denounced the series. The Islamic preacher Sheik Feiz Muhammad regarded the books and films as "Satanic" and claimed they were introducing young children to pagan rituals (such as the drinking of goat's blood) which Islam forbids. The esteemed Sheik also criticised Muslim parents who allow their children to watch the films or read the books, claiming they were being irresponsible.[20]

Furthermore, the drinking of dead animal blood, Satanic human sacrifice, demonic possession, etc. described in the quote at the top of the page, are actions practised by the book's Wilhelm-screaming[21][note 4] antagonist, Lord Voldemort, the murderer of Harry's parents; the books do not exactly present Voldemort as a morally praiseworthy figure.[citation NOT needed]

As to the claims that the books promote witchcraft by teaching impressionable children to cast spells, well… we hate to break it to you, but the spells described in the books don't work in real life, even if you wave a piece of carved wood in the air.

Satirical news source The Onion, in its inimitable style, once ran a spoof of the fundamentalists' claims, saying that children were converting to Satanism because of the books.[22] As if to prove their idiocy to anyone yet unconvinced, the fundies took the article as proof that they were right.[23]

Identify however you want but...[edit]

Since 2018, Rowling has been swirling in Twitter shenanigans. In March 2018, she had a "clumsy and middle-aged moment" — in the words of her representative, Rebecca Salt — when she liked an anti-trans tweet by @racybearhold that said "Men in dresses get brocialist solidarity I never had. That's misogyny!" Salt claimed afterwards, "this is not the first time [Rowling] has favourited by holding her phone incorrectly."[24]

In June 2019 — Pride month, no less — Rowling was revealed to be following nearly a dozen transphobic Twitter accounts. Twitter user @Persenche looked through the nearly 670 people Rowling followed and tweeted that 11 of them included Julie Bindel and Magdalen Berns, the latter of whom compared being trans to wearing blackface.[25] Six months later, Rowling tweeted in support of Maya Forstater, who claimed she was fired for her "gender critical views", incorrectly describing Forstater's views as "sex is real".[26] She then doubled down in June 2020, when she affirmed biological determinism, claiming "If sex isn't real, there's no same-sex attraction. If sex isn't real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn't hate to speak the truth."[27][28] But trans activists are not trying to erase the concept of sex or stop people talking about "women", they are just saying the concept of "woman" includes trans women.

Her views were condemned by her characters the actors of her film series and her fans.[29][30] Emma Watson, who portrayed character Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, tweeted: "Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren't who they say they are."[29] This was a response to Rowling.

The author also engaged in petty antics such as deleting a tweet praising Stephen King after he supported trans women[31] and participating in an open letter whinging about cancel culture with James Bennet, who resigned as opinion editor of The New York Times after printing an op-ed by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton which called for Black Lives Matter protesters to be suppressed by the military.[32][33]

Rowling promoted a radfem store called "Wild Womyn Workshop" where they sell merchandise for "♀️women♀️" that help whoever's still supporting JK Rowling to proclaim how much of a cunt they are.[34] The products are "great, original designed products, carefully hand-crafted with care and love" featuring careless slogans carelessly mass-produced with carelessness and seething incomprehensible hatred like "Sorry about your dick bro" on a trans flag, "trans men are my sisters" on a trans flag, "f*ck your pronouns", and, unfortunately, more. The phrase "I Love J. K. Rowling" has become one of the most recognisable transphobic dog whistles used by TERFs.[35][36] Rowling claims 90% of her fans agree with her transphobia.[37]

Rowling claimed to be "doxxed" by trans activists because they took a photo in front of the gates of her house with signs protesting her transphobic views since the pictures theoretically reveal where she lives; however, the famous writer was immediately criticised for not appearing to know that doxing means revealing information that is not public.[38] She bought a famous and distinct landmark to live in and yet she expects total privacy and anonymity. By her amusing logic, even Wikipedia's article has doxed her by sharing where you can find Killiechassie,Wikipedia her country estate, since it has existed for centuries before she was born.

She has opposed reform of gender recognition legislation in Scotland that aimed to make the process "less traumatic and inhumane for trans people" (according to Scotland's First Minister), because it would remove some of the obstacles to trans women being recognised as women.[39] She also tweeted that politically correct zealots would rename International Women's Day: "Apparently, under a Labour government, today will become We Who Must Not Be Named Day".[39]

In April 2022, she attended a lunch with a number of other prominent TERFs at the River Cafe in Hammersmith, London. Other guests included Rosie Duffield, Helen Joyce, Julie Bindel, Kathleen Stock, and Maya Forstater.[40] Joyce, author of Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, has referred to trans people as "damaged", saying "every one of those people is someone who needs special accommodation in a sane world where we re-acknowledge the truth of sex"; she has also called for immediate action "reducing or keeping down the number of people who transition".[41] Duffield has repeatedly called trans women "male-bodied people".[42] Duffield also called for trans people to be banned from "refuges, women’s prisons, single-sex wards and school toilets".[43]

Gay matters and homophobia[edit]

In 2007, at a fan event a few months after the release of the last Harry Potter book, Rowling revealed that she had "always thought of Dumbledore as gay."[44][45] The revelation drew praise from fans and the LGBT community at the time, but predictably angered the religious right.[46] Since then, many fans have taken a critical view of Rowling's outing of Dumbledore, calling out her apparent refusal to make him explicitly gay in the text. The Fantastic Beasts prequels in particular have drawn fire for portraying Dumbledore's relationship with Grindelwald as ambiguous.[47][48][49]

On March 12, 2022, Rowling tweeted[50] "Big love to you xxx" to Caroline Farrow, an anti-gay and anti-trans activist who once harassed a trans woman so intensely that a High Court judge granted an injunction against her, ordering her to stop the harassment.[51] Farrow once expressed outrage over "deviant" gay penguins,[52] and accused Disneyland of engaging in "LGBT indoctrination" of children.[53] It is not known whether Rowling was aware of this history of homophobia by Farrow, but she has never retracted her support or apologized after Farrow's views were widely reported.

On November 21, 2022, the day after five people were murdered in a mass shooting at a gay bar in Colorado, Rowling liked a tweet by far-right personality LibsofTikTik.[54] LoTT's relentless anti-LGBT fearmongering has been credited with setting off a wave of violent threats against children's hospitals and drag events.[55][56]

Cormoran Strike[edit]

Since finishing the Harry Potter series, Rowling has focused on a new series, adult detective novels featuring ex-military policeman Cormoran Strike and his female assistant Robin Ellacott. These are published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Some have also been adapted for television by the BBC and HBO.[57]

Initially the books seemed unexceptional genre works, but that changed when Rowling started to inject her increasingly strange beliefs about trans people and other issues. At first it was subtle; book 2, The Silk Worm features two trans characters who are portrayed in a relatively sympathetic fashion although Shrike is rude to them and threatens one with rape. Book 3, Career of Evil, is about an online community of people who wish to be disabled and have limbs amputated to meet their desire. Body integrity dysphoriaWikipedia is a real condition, but to some people it felt like Rowling was using these people who wished to be disabled as a way to attack or mock trans people, whom she viewed as similarly deluded.[58]

Controversy increased with book 5: Troubled Blood (2020) features a killer who disguises himself as a woman. Naturally, this was read in the light of Rowling's hostility to trans people and belief that trans women are all men dressing as women to attack cis women. It also contains a lot of criticism of 21st century feminism for being sex-positive, pro-porn, holding SlutWalks to oppose slut shaming, etc.[58]

This was followed by book 6, Ink Black Heart, which is about a cartoonist who is murdered after antagonising woke online trolls with remarks about a hermaphrodite worm that are considered transphobic. Rowling insists any resemblance to her life is coincidental; most people don't believe her.[59]

There is also a curious coincidence that the pseudonym Robert Galbraith is very similar to the name of Robert Galbraith Heath, a controversial psychiatrist who was very hostile to LGBT people and pioneered conversion therapy for gay men, including the use of electric shocks. Rowling said she was unaware of the existence of Heath when she chose the pseudonym and she had long been fond of the name "Galbraith"; she chose the name in 2013, while the psychiatrist first came to public attention in 2016, so this at least is almost certainly a coincidence.[60]

Political views[edit]

Because bigotry is probably the thing I detest most. All forms of intolerance, the whole idea of “that which is different from me is necessary evil.” I really like to explore the idea that difference is equal and good. But there's another idea that I like to explore, too. Oppressed groups are not, generally speaking, people who stand firmly together – no, sadly, they kind of subdivide among themselves and fight like hell. That's human nature, so that's what you see here. This world of wizards and witches, they're already ostracized, and then within themselves, they've formed a loathsome pecking order.
—JK Rowling explaining why she included themes of bigotry in her books[61]

Though she has been seen as conservative in hiding due to her association with outdated gender norms and reactionary opposition to transgender rights, she has not always been as such.

In a 2000 interview, she described herself as left-wing.[61] As early as 2002, Rowling claimed that one of her biggest writing influences had been Jessica MitfordWikipedia, whom she described as a "self-taught socialist" (Mitford had also been a member of the Communist Party of the United States until 1958).[62] She also donated to Labour[63] and was openly supportive of the British welfare state[64] in the late 2000s. In April 2010, she wrote a Single Mother's Manifesto criticising Tory austerity and David Cameron.[65]

However, she was very critical of Jeremy Corbyn, a remnant of Labour's Old Left,[66] and mocked his (honestly mediocre and half-assed) stance on Brexit.[67] This was driven by fear that it would lead to a repeat of the longest suicide note in historyWikipedia which resulted in the Tories, under Margaret Thatcher, winning re-election in 1983 and control over national politics until 1997.[67][68]

Rowling expressed her opposition to Scottish independence at the time of the 2014 independence referendum, donating to anti-independence group Better Together.[69] This didn't endear her to some Scottish Nationalists, and she received online abuse, which caused her to double down in her opposition to independence, accusing Scottish nationalists of bigotry; she also called out the "blood and soil" ethnonationalists Siol nan Gaidheal who are certainly bigots but whose membership is so small they can hardly be considered representative of anything.[70]

In a rare stopped clock moment, Rowling told off Vladimir Putin when he had the gall to compare Western sanctions against Russia to Rowling being "canceled" for her TERF views.[71]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. J. K. Rowling wasn't given a middle name. When choosing to write under initials, she added a "K." after her grandmother, Kathleen. Wikipedia confidently states that her surname is pronounced /ˈroʊlɪŋ/ ROH-ling but feel free to ignore this, as most people do.
  2. Robert Galbraith is the name under which Rowling writes the Cormoran Strike detective novels for adults.
  3. We're kind of over-exaggerating a bit, because it's implied in the final epilogue that he lived a fairly normal life after that.
  4. Though, technically, the scream isn't actually the Wilhelm.

References[edit]

  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20220815043302/https://twitter.com/jk_rowling
  2. From billionaire to millionaire, New Zealand Herald, 12 Mar, 2012
  3. JK Rowling now 'she who must not be named' for Harry Potter fans (04/07/2020) Newshub.
  4. Spoilers!
  5. Harry Potter tops list of most challenged books of 21st century, American Library Association
  6. Zipes, J. (2002). Sticks and Stones: The Troublesome Success of Children's Literature from Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter. Page 175.
  7. Pottering Around, Inside Higher Ed
  8. "Why Harry Potter doesn't cast a spell over me", The Guardian
  9. "Hogwarts is a winner because boys will be sexist neocon boys", The Sunday Times
  10. J.K. Rowling at Carnegie Hall Reveals Dumbledore is Gay, The Leaky Cauldron
  11. JK Rowling Confirms Stance Against Transgender Women, Medium, 24 June 2019
  12. https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2019/12/19/jk-rowing-maya-forstater-tweets-transphobia-accusations/
  13. See the Wikipedia article on Harry Potter influences and analogues.
  14. Farrow, Max. "J.K. Rowling Is Turning Into George Lucas." ScreenRant, 25 November 2018 (recovered 30 April 2019).
  15. Harry Potter and the problematic slavery parable
  16. JK Rowling stirs controversy with AIDS metaphor
  17. Never forget when JK Rowling likened being a werewolf to having AIDS
  18. JK Rowling's allegory fail: Werewolves are not a useful metaphor for AIDS
  19. The Harry Potter antisemitism explained, Forbes
  20. Harry Potter — Sheik Feiz Muhammad
  21. Voldemort NYAH NYEAH
  22. Avada Kedavra, bitches!
  23. Harry Potter and Satanism, Snopes.
  24. https://www.indy100.com/article/jk-rowling-tweet-transphobic-men-dresses-harry-potter-8268111
  25. https://www.femestella.com/jk-rowling-transphobic/
  26. Maya Forstater: Woman loses tribunal over transgender tweets, BBC, December 19, 2019
  27. Insider:JK Rowling claims trans activism hurts women and lesbians, dated to Jun 7, 2020
  28. If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth., JK Rowling, Twitter, 6 June 2020; archived.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Slashfilm: More stars condemn Rowling's trans comments, dated to June 11th, 2020
  30. HP fans sites distance themselves from JK Rowling, The Guardian, dated to July 3, 2020
  31. Rowling deletes tweet after Stephen King supports trans women
  32. ‘Whiny BS’: letter signed by JK Rowling, Margaret Atwood slammed as out of touch, The New Daily, July 7, 2020
  33. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/cancel-culture-harpers-jk-rowling-scam_n_5f0887b4c5b67a80bc06c95e
  34. @DreamsRestless. (September 22, 2020). [1]. Twitter. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  35. "I love JK Rowling’ poster taken down at Edinburgh railway station due to ‘political nature’", The Independent
  36. "I Love J.K. Rowling sign makes brief, controversial appearance in Vancouver", CBC News
  37. J.K. Rowling says 90% of her fans agree with her transphobia but they’re afraid to say so publicly, lgbtqnation
  38. James Factora, J.K. Rowling, Whose Mansion Is on Wikipedia, Decries "Doxxing". them.us, 24 November 2021.
  39. 39.0 39.1 J.K. Rowling Doubles Down on Transphobia in International Women’s Day Twitter Rant, Indiewire, 8 March 2022
  40. Inside J.K. Rowling’s ‘gender wars’ lunch, The Week, 12 April 2022
  41. ‘Gender critical’ author Helen Joyce says she wants to ‘reduce’ number of trans people: ‘Chilling’, Pink News, 3 June 2022
  42. Labour MP Rosie Duffield confronted after repeatedly calling trans women ‘male-bodied’ on the BBC, Pink News, 18 Nov 2021
  43. Labour MP Rosie Duffield explains ‘gender critical’ views in anti-trans tirade, Pink News, 11 September 2021
  44. The Leaky Cauldron: J. K. Rowling at Carnegie Hall Reveals Dumbledore is Gay, dated to Oct 20, 2007
  45. BBC News: JK Rowling outs Dumbledore as gay, dated Oct 20, 2007
  46. The Christian Post: Conservatives Urge Ban on 'Harry Potter' Over Witchcraft, Homosexuality, dated Oct 30, 2007
  47. Insider:LGBT backlash against Fantastic Beasts, dated to Feb 2, 2018
  48. SBS:Rowling omitting Dumbledore being gay is a slap in the face to her queer fans, dated to Mar 19, 2019
  49. Insider:Fantastic Beasts director says movie will not address Dumbledore being gay, dated to Jan 31, 2018
  50. Twitter: [2], dated to Mar 12, 2022
  51. PinkNews: Anti-LGBT pundit Caroline Farrow hit with injunction over ‘abusive tweets’, dated to May 3, 2019
  52. PinkNews: Children not ’emotionally ready’ for ‘deviant’ gay penguins, says journalist, dated to Jul 3, 2019
  53. Twitter: [3]
  54. https://twitter.com/trans_safety/status/1594835928656363521
  55. Washington Post: Twitter account Libs of TikTok blamed for harassment of children’s hospitals, dated to Sept 2, 2022
  56. Them: How Libs of TikTok Became an Anti-LGBTQ+ Hate Machine, dated Sept 30, 2022
  57. Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger return in Strike - Troubled Blood, BBC press release, 2022
  58. 58.0 58.1 J.K. Rowling’s transphobic new novel sees her at the mercy of all her worst impulses, Constance Grady, Vox, September 3, 2020
  59. J.K. Rowling’s New Book Just So Happens to Feature a Character Persecuted Over Transphobia, Rolling Stone, August 29, 2022
  60. Why J.K. Rowling's 'Robert Galbraith' Pseudonym is Linked to Harmful Conversion Therapist, Newsweek, September 16, 2020
  61. 61.0 61.1 Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly, September 7, 2000, archived
  62. Lindsay Fraser, The Scotsman, November 2002, archived at Accio Quote!
  63. JK Rowling gives Labour £1m donation, 20 September 2008
  64. JK Rowling on paying taxes and the welfare state
  65. The Single Mother's Manifesto, originally pushed in The Times
  66. JK Rowling gave "blast of reality" on Jeremy Corbyn
  67. 67.0 67.1 JK Rowling mocks "Saint Jeremy" over Brexit. The Guardian, 23 December 2018.
  68. JK Rowling is in a massive Twitter war about the future of progressive politics in Britain
  69. Alexandra Siierlin, J.K. Rowling Tweets Her Opposition to Scottish Independence, Time, 8 September 2014.
  70. JK Rowling attacked for saying Scottish nationalism 'contains traces of bigotry', The Guardian, 6 July 2018
  71. Arnaud Siad, Nathan Hodge and Toyin Owoseje, J.K. Rowling hits back at Putin after he likened Russia to her in rant against cancel culture. CNN, 25 March 2022.