J.K. Rowling responds to the most common questions by her critics (Excerpts from “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling: Episode 7”)

March 28, 2023.

Get ready to delve into the world of J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter with our transcription of her exclusive interview on “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling” podcast, episode seven. In this transcript, we’ve compiled J.K. Rowling’s insights and answers. While we highly recommend listening to the entire episode for the complete experience, this transcription offers a convenient way to revisit J.K. Rowling’s interview. You can find the full podcast on popular platforms like Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

What do you think is the crux of the difference between what you believe and what your critics say you believe?

Oh, my God. I mean, the crux, there’s an abyss. I’ve been, I’ve been, I’ve been, I have to laugh because the hyperbole is so extreme. I’ve been told I wish for the genocide of trans people. I’ve been told “Well, you want them to die, you don’t want them to exist.” And that I think is where we become, it’s not even infuriated. Sometimes you feel a little despair. You think, maybe we need the storm to break and for people to say, but wait a moment, we do need to ask questions.

We’ve seen thousands of percent increase in young women trying to escape their physical bodies. Should we not be asking why that’s happening?

I think the idea is that you have become for a lot of people, you know, the word is “problematic”, that you might think of yourself as raising these valid concerns, but they will criticize either the way you’ve gone about it or the timing of it or the language you’ve used and much more. But before we get into some specifics, I did just want to ask at this point, how does it feel that there is this gulf between how you see yourself and how many other people now see you?

This will sound like an indirect answer, but I promise you it isn’t. If I think about the people I most admire, actually even the writers I most admire, when it mattered, they stood up, they didn’t sit at home and, you know, worry about their royalties or worry about their public image greatly.

Not that I seek to be controversial, that’s embarrassing and seeking to be some sort of perfect. I never wanted to be famous, so if you’re very invested in that, then of course this is going to destroy you. I mean, I don’t say this in any self-aggrandising way, but I think it could have destroyed some people.

If that’s where you’re very invested, what has happened to me in the last few years, I think there’s no hope that you will come out of it with your mental health intact, or that you wouldn’t be, you know, offering full sum of apologies, I’ve learned I’ve done better. I understand that.

Whether you mean it or not, you know that, but now I have learnt, I did my learning before I spoke, everyone can do better. I don’t sit out to cause pain, but I see pain being caused and I think damage being caused to women and girls and I just can’t sit here and not speak.

One of your critics is a trans woman named Natalie Nguyen, who goes by the name Contrapoints on YouTube, and she made a long video essay critiquing your views on trans issues, and in it she goes through how she understands bigotry, which she breaks down into two categories, direct bigotry and indirect bigotry. Direct bigotry is the sort of thing that my family does, being openly contemptuous and using slurs and demonizing people, marginalizing people openly, and indirect bigotry is things like people are just asking questions. They’re just concerned, they’re engaging in debate, activists have gone too far, political correctness, cancel culture. In other words, it’s the idea that there are bad actors who can hide behind virtues or less extreme rhetoric, but who are still undermining people’s rights.

I see this constantly and that the most frequent example of that is “they’re pretending to be concerned about children. It’s not about the children, they really hate trans people.” Now, if you’re saying that indirect bigotry is asking questions where you believe significant harm is done, if you’re saying indirect bigotry is standing up for women’s rights, then you know what, guilty is charged.

I think it’s a very bad faith argument to say that people who are asking questions are being indirect biggots because that itself, in my view, is a very bad faith position.

Do you think that some people do use those kinds of, I guess I’m thinking here of actual people that most people would recognise as big… 

Complete! Pretty much everyone in the world, but literal psychopaths and clear terrible predators are concerned about harm to children, okay? So that’s a very common human trait, it’s a human trait to want to protect the vulnerable, and children are very vulnerable.

The trouble is, you see, one may use concern about children to justify other actions.^You know, QAnon felt that children were being trafficked and raped. One may be concerned about children and be correct. People around Jimmy Savile, the UK’s most famous predator, believe children were being
harmed, but his celebrity and his ability to raise money for charity was such that nobody wanted to look into that.

So I’m not sure it’s as simple as saying people are using it. Some people may genuinely believe children being harmed and also genuinely not want anyone to be trans, that is not my position.

You have said that you respect trans people, you said that you would march with them, that you think the transition is right for some people, but you also say that there’s a real difference between biological women and trans women and a meaningful distinction between the two in their experiences. And I think some of your critics point to that and say, you’re essentially making trans women, second-class women, you know, like “you’re almost women,”” that despite all of their efforts to live in the world as women, as what feels right and authentic to them, you are
essentially saying, “I’ll treat you as a woman, you are an honorary woman”, but this distinction that you are emphasizing, the biological distinction that you see as being so important, it can feel hurtful to them, like they are, you know, almost a thing, but not quite, like something is being held back. Can you understand the pain that that could cause?

Yes, it’s the short answer, yes, I can understand that hurt. The thing is women are the only group to my knowledge that are being asked to embrace members of their oppressor class, unquestioningly, with no caveat. Now, on an individual basis, and I think many people knew to this argument would see it on that level, because many people of my generation particularly think that we’re talking about old-school transsexuals, people who’ve been through full sex reassignment because of profound gender dysphoria.

And I feel 100% compassion for such people and I would absolutely respect their pronouns always have, always will, and would want, as I say them, to have comfortable, easy lives. This movement, though, is pressing for something different, very different.

This movement has argued, continues to argue, that a man may have had no surgery whatsoever, but if he feels himself to be a woman, the door of every woman’s bathroom, changing room, rape centre should be open to him.

And I say no, I’m afraid I say no. And we are in a cultural moment where that individual’s hurt is being prioritised over the hurt of women whose rights and boundaries are under sustained assault, and I think it’s interesting to ask why the pain of one group is being prioritised over the pain of other groups.

Yeah, maybe a simpler way to ask it is that is there a way in your mind to respect both pains, even though, at some point, obviously there’s going to be a moment where action or decision has to be made.

I do believe that there is a way forward in which women and girls retain their existing rights and trans people are properly protected. There is a way, absolutely a way, to respect both points, but I think we’re currently unfortunately in a place where that is very difficult to achieve.

I believe feminists have tried very hard to have this discussion. How do we ensure everyone’s rights and safety? Where does fairness lie? For example, initiatives like sport would be a very obvious one that’s getting a lot of publicity at the moment.

Feminists are asking for certain spaces, rape shelters would be a very obvious example to remain female only or to have separate provision for both groups because I don’t know a single feminist who doesn’t acknowledge that trans people also, of course, are victims of sexual violence. But at the moment there seems to be a very black and white view on the other side of the argument. It’s everything or nothing.

When it comes to the bathroom question, we’ve heard from a lot of people that essentially that the risks just don’t seem very high to them, many of them can understand why males and females shouldn’t be housed in the same prison cells, but when it comes to bathrooms like there already aren’t guards at the door and like nobody’s checking before we go in and essentially a bad actor would have come in regardless of whatever our conventions are.

I disagree very quite strongly on that. There is a social taboo. There has been until very recently historically, there has been a social taboo. So if my husband decided that he wanted to use the latest bathroom, the women inside would feel confident in challenging his right to be there, and I think in my view most decent men watching a man walking into the latest bathroom might well challenge him too. That is now being eroded, so we have statistics on this. The Sunday Times issued a freedom of information request from the government, 88% of sexual assaults happening in unisex spaces.

We have had multiple instances in this country, and in America, because I went and looked because I was thinking, well, does this happen? And it happens: voyeurism, sexual assault. The men particularly arguing that this isn’t a risk, alarmy, candidly, are they naive? Do they know what, not know what their fellow men do?

There are a lot of critics who say, you and your comments are giving fuel to the right.

Well, my answer would be, I think you’re giving fuel to the right. This is why many left-wing feminists in particular are sitting with their head in their hands. The right has wanted for years and years, not all of the right, but certainly the further the right and the religious right, have wanted to castigate the lesbian and gay and bisexual movement as is inherently degenerate and part of the left’s broader degeneracy.

When you defend the placing of rapists in cells with women, you are handing the right a perfect opportunity to say, you see, we told you the moral degeneracy that would result if you say homosexual relationships are okay, and I think for many leftists, for many feminists, we are despairing of the fact that people are, in our view, colluding with a deeply misogynist movement, which is benefitting, politically speaking, the far right.

And I worry very deeply that, as the left becomes increasingly puritanical and authoritarian and judgmental, we are pushing swathes of people towards not just the right, it’s pushing them to the alt-right.

That’s what scares me, that particularly young men, when they’re being told everything in the world is their fault, and they have no right to a voice, and they are everything that is wrong with society.

It is, unfortunately, a human reaction to go to the place where you will be embraced, and if the only place where you can make a joke or be accepted is a place that is full of poisonous ideas, then you’re likely to go there, particularly when you’re young.

So I think that the left is making a tremendous mistake in espousing this kind of, in my view, quasi-religious, incredibly sort of witch hunting behavior, because there will be people who will just feel when they’ve been shamed and abused, and they feel it was unfair, where are they going to go? That worries me very deeply.

In my lifetime, we’ve seen such a shift on the left, and I still would define myself as of the left, but I was born in the 60s when transgression really was the preserve of the left, when challenging authority, and when making the dark joke, and when breaking societal norms was very much the preserve of the left. I’ve lived to see the left become incredibly puritanical, and rigid, and watching the alt-right, and this isn’t a new phenomenon.

The alt-right is not the conservative, right, with whom I disagree on many, many things. I’m just saying, we’re seeing a growth of something very much facilitated by the internet, that the alarms and disturbs me, and it worries me that the left are absolutely playing into that demographic’s hands.

You wrote a book, many books, where young children have a lot of autonomy and make very adult decisions, and some of them come with really great risks, and that’s like sneaking off into a dungeon, or running away to fight the most powerful wizard who has ever existed, and some of your critics wonder if there’s something contradictory in saying that young people are not old enough to know who they are, to make this decision about whether to medically transition.

Those are fantasy books, and the point of fantasy is that we are allowed to explore an imagination, things that frighten us, challenges, we’re allowed to escape into a world that’s scary, but then we can come back, we can close the book, we can think about what we’ve read, we can think about what it means to make your reversible decisions.

By contrast, we are dealing with the real world here, we’re dealing with children, in my view, being persuaded that a solution for all distress is lifelong medicalization. That is real world harm, there’s no closing the book and walking away, there’s no playing with this, experimenting with this, and not suffering harm in my view.

Now people will say, perhaps, that you’ve already said that for some people this will be the answer, and I will say yes, for persistent gender dysphoria, I believe I certainly hope that for adults who have found no other way to resolve their gender dysphoria transition may be the answer, I want to see those people protected, I want their rights protected, I wish them lives full of joy, and fulfillment, but when we’re talking about children, I think that is a very different question.

Now you’ve said that you’ve been immersing yourself in a lot of reading, memoirs and philosophy and academic literature all around the subject, and I know that one thing that’s made this conversation about minors medically transitioning, so contentious is that because it’s quite new, there aren’t a lot of authoritative studies, and so with the studies that are out there, the assertion is that people on all sides are cherry picking to fit their arguments. What evidence are you seeing that makes you think that you are right to be worried?

I haven’t yet found a study that hasn’t found that the majority of young people, children and adolescents experiencing gender dysphoria will grow out of it. I haven’t found a single study that contradicts that, and I have gone looking. The majority of children will, if allowed to go through adolescence, many of them will grow up to, not all, but many will grow up to be gay, and they will, their gender dysphoria will resolve.

Why then, if that’s the evidence, are we immediately putting children onto an affirmative path? Can we follow the science? There is activism, and all activism isn’t equal? I genuinely think that we are watching one of the worst medical scandals in a century, and I believe that those who should have known better, and I’m talking here not, God knows, about trans people, gender dysphoric people, distress young people, I’m certainly not talking about them. I am talking about medics, and those who have cheered this on unquestioningly, creating a climate in which many people trying to raise red flags have been intimidated and silenced.

And I would ask proponents of gender identity ideology who are so militant, who are so determined on no debate, I would ask them, what if you are wrong?

If I’m wrong, honestly, hallelujah! If I’m wrong, great, people aren’t being harmed. But if you are wrong, you have cheered on, you have created a climate, quite a threatening climate, in which whistleblowers and young people themselves are being intimidated out of raising concerns.

I think it was in 2018, Professor Carl Heneghan, who is of the Oxford Center for Evidence Space Medicine, and he spoke up publicly, and he said, “we are watching an unregulated live experiment on children.” He was instantly condemned as a transphobe by, I think, the Oxford University’s LGBT society.

So when you say that people aren’t being harmed, if you’re wrong, you mean physically, because you’re critics say that you are harming people with your words and with the ideas that you are promoting.

Well, actually, I received an email right after I spoke out, in which a left-wing man I know emailed me, and he said, a trans man had been killed in Germany. And he said to me, your rhetoric contributes to an environment in which police are less likely to investigate that crime.

Now, join the dots for me. What I had said at that point is, there used to be a word for people who menstruate. Is he genuinely arguing that by saying women menstruate, police investigation murder will say, “well, better wrap up the investigation”? These hyperbolic accusations are thrown at anyone who challenges this ideology. Your words will cause people to kill themselves. Your words will stop police investigation. Your words will cause men to be violent trans women, blaming women for the violence of men, is a hallmark of something that is not normally seen as progressive. That is misogyny writ large.

To go back to your concern about the left feeding a backlash that might help the far right. There has been a real and rapid loss of public trust and institutions of all kinds over the past few years. And it sounds like this experience you’re having is causing you, yourself, to have doubts about the trustworthiness of some of our institutions in this moment.

Completely. And I think that this is, I mean, we’ve seen this play out in the last decade, this undermining of experts, you know, the experts can’t be trusted, the media can’t be trusted, governments can’t be trusted. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I have lost faith in certain institutions. I have lost a degree of faith in what is obviously the industry, I know best, the publishing industry.

I have been shocked by the positions that publishing has taken. I am pleased and proud to say that my publisher has taken, my editor in fact, has taken a robust position on freedom of speech. And I was relieved that he took that position, not for my sake, but it was a on freedom of speech that I think publishing, if publishers stand for nothing else, they should stand for plurality of views.

And the other institutions that I have definitely lost faith in are educational institutions, who I think have taken a very dogmatic position on this and are shutting down debate, freedom of thought and freedom of expression. And I, if we cannot look to those institutions to protect those very precious things, we are in trouble, and I am afraid I think we all currently in trouble.

Well, one of the concerns you voiced is around language and institutions using phrases like birthing people or cervix havers or people who menstruate. And some of your critics just don’t see a problem with this. They see it as just making language more inclusive. So for instance, in the world of journalism, the associated press released a new style guide explaining that when referring to transgender people, phrases like, is a woman are more to the point than identifies as a woman. Can you make the case to the skeptic? Why is this an issue for you?

That, from the Associated Press is hugely powerful. They’ve edged from identifies as a woman, so a man identifies as a woman, which I think we all understand what that means, into is a woman. That’s precisely the creep that I’m talking about.

We are using language to make accurate definition of sex difference unspeakable. When I read news stories, “a woman convicted of exposing her penis on the street.” Now I’m laughing, but it’s not actually that funny. I hear myself saying the words and that seems so absurd to me, but there is now a journalistic convention that there are no matter the crime. “Woman convicted of raping small boy.” These are real news stories.

I see that as political language. I see that as an ideological. I don’t believe it to be factual. There’s a body of feminists who would say “these are not our crimes. These are not women’s crimes.”

And I would say something else. I don’t believe you can accurately analyze sexual violence or violence when committed by males, and we know that 98 to 99% of sexual violence is committed by men. Women are form 88% of victims of sexual violence. How can we record our accurate data? How can we analyze this phenomenon without being able to accurately talk about who is the perpetrator and who is the victim?

So what you’re saying is that by changing the language there, to focus, especially around sex crimes, to focus on gender rather than sex, you’re obscuring an important fact, which is that biology actually is implicated there.

Exactly that.

One of the things that your critics say often is some version of, “I wish she would listen. Why isn’t she listening to us?”

Because they think that nobody could possibly disagree with them if they heard what they were saying, and I truly believe that the notion that I have listened and I have read and I have learned and I’ve looked at the theory and I’ve looked at personal accounts and still disagree is simply anathema.

So what you’re saying is they think they want you to listen when really they want you to agree.

I’m afraid that is exactly what I think.

And then the other extremely common question that comes up and it comes off almost like a plea is just why, why are you doing this? Why can’t you just let people be who they are and support them the way that you do for these outsider characters in your book? If one of those people is listening right now, how would you talk to them? What would you say to them? Can you speak to them?

I would say to them, you as a human being, the self that you all, I have the utmost respect for you. I want you protected. I want you safe. I would treat you with respect always. And I would say, I’m worried that you, your self, may have got caught up in something that may ultimately harm you.

But I’m asking some questions because I think some vulnerable groups are being harmed and that includes the gay community, that includes vulnerable women, and it includes vulnerable youth.

Now, if you identify as trans, if that is an answer for you, then I’m with you 100%. But we are seeing mounting evidence that this is not the answer for everyone and that we may be living through a cultural moment that we will look back on, not with pride, but with puzzlement that we let it happen.

I’m really interested in the question of discernment. I think of this scene from one of your books. It was “Harry Potter in the Order of the Phoenix”, where Hermione, the hero, and Professor Umbridge, who was clearly in the wrong, have this showdown in class. Hermione says in a moment of defiance that she disagrees with something in her textbook and Umbridge berates her like, who are you to disagree with this expert who wrote this textbook and punishes her. Now to anyone reading this, it is so frustrating and unjust. But I venture to say that no one thinks they are the Umbridge.

No one ever thinks that! No one ever thinks they’re Umbridge!

And some people see you as the Umbridge. You have these younger critics online and they see Hermione as standing up to an older person with power and they see themselves as standing up to you.

Yeah. And I understand because they’ve told me very explicitly. Why they have an interpretation?!

How do you know if you are a Hermione or an Umbridge?

Well, if you’re having a lot of fun doing it and getting a huge sense of self satisfaction out of it, then I do believe you maybe want to stop and think, “am I getting a huge ego rush out of this?” That would be a good question to ask yourself.

You know, is this giving me pleasure? Because I can say from my heart none of this has given me pleasure. It has given me anxiety. It has made me at times feel vulnerable. So although I don’t regret anything, I’ve had concerns from my family’s safety. Some of the threats have not been too amusing to me. There has been fallout in my life inevitably. I still don’t regret standing up, but it certainly hasn’t given me pleasure on any level.

You know, one of the key moments for me, you say you talk about righteousness. There was an incident in 2019, I believe, in which [voice over: here, Rowling mentioned the incident that we spoke about in Chapter Four, where in a nearby Scottish town, a 10 year old girl was sexually assaulted by an 18 year old trans woman in a public bathroom.]

Some of the discourse I saw after that incident really took me aback because one of the first things I saw was the “TERFs love it when something like this happens.” Now, what thought process has led you to believe that the TERFs, this demonized evil group, “they just hate trans people, they want them all dead, we all know this, that’s who they are.” What leads you to believe that we want 10 year old children escape rape by a hares whisker?

How is your black and white thinking evolved to the point where you think that feminists like me, actively are gleeful, when women are raped or attacked? “That’s great. We can use this to bash trans women with”, and I’ve seen that discourse and I think if you’re thinking is that it’s not just irrational, that is such a bad faith position.

At no point do you stop and say to yourself, “there may be some nuance here?” Is this all moving pieces on a chest board for you? Is it all a game? Does real world hurt and harm not count at all?

There’s one other question that I had about discernment. So how do you know if you’re fighting for something that is truly righteous or just something that appears to be righteous? How do you know that the courage to call out an injustice isn’t actually just a call to join an unjust mob? So coming from Westboro, where I believed so strongly that I was doing the right thing, and then to leave and come to believe that it was so destructive and harmful, I had this moment in time, and it lasted for many months, where I was like, how can I ever trust my own mind again? Because I was so certain. And so I was trying to looking for some kind of solid footing, like, what leg do I have to stand on? Like, how can I trust my mind? Like, how do I not make the same mistake again and again going forward? And so I basically came up with this list of questions that kind of grew over time, and a few of them you’ve alluded to already, so these are the questions that I asked myself to see, like, am I starting to go down a bad path?

So the first question is, are you capable of entertaining real doubt about your beliefs, or are you operating from a position of certainty?

Yeah, and I think that that’s key. I think it’s when we are most certain, when we’re getting that rush of adrenaline that says God, I’m a good person, that’s when we should most question ourselves, that’s when you need to stop and ask yourself a question.

And the second point is, can you articulate the evidence that you would need to see in order to change your position, or is your perspective unphulsifiable?

We’ve discussed this already, and I think that’s a such a good question, because I asked myself that question on this issue, what would I need to see, and I could articulate what I would need to see, to move me from my position, my thought-out position?

Can you articulate your opponent’s perspective in a way that they recognize, or are you strumming?

I think that’s excellent, and I genuinely believe I could articulate my opponent’s position, because I’ve read their books, and I think people need to read these things, they need to understand what is being argued.

Fourth one was, are you attacking ideas, or attacking the people who hold them?

Always the ideas.

Are you willing to cut off close relationships with people who disagree with you, particularly over relatively small points of contention?

No, I’m not. A difference of belief is nothing to me, but I can imagine myself no longer wishing to have a relationship with a person who behaved in certain ways towards me or towards others, because I do strongly believe it’s much what people are doing, not what they’re saying, and so certain behaviors would probably be a deal breaker for me, and that would include demonizing others for small transgressions, that would be a revelation to me that that person wasn’t who I thought they were probably.

And then the last one was, are you willing to use extraordinary means against people who disagree with you? And by that, I mean things like forcing people out of their jobs, or homes, violence, or threats of violence, or things like what my family and I did, celebrating misfortune and tragedy.

I don’t know why, but that question is actually made me quite emotional that you say that to me, because I sit opposite you and I like you so much, and you’re such a humane, a reasonable person, and to hear you describing those behaviors is… I can really understand why you had your long dark night of the soul.

One thing that you said to me earlier in our discussion really stuck with me, you said to me that not long before you left, you said to someone, an interviewer, “I’m all in,”” and you told me, “I believed that I had questioned myself, and I was fine with everything”, but you said you hadn’t gone deep enough, trust and obey, right?

You’ve never actually taken apart the most fundamental three words of your belief system, you’d never challenged those. Can you talk about that? Because that really interests me.

Yeah, so I grew up in a family of lawyers, right? So my mom is one of 13, and I think 11 of the 13 went to law school. They were very, very smart, very analytical, very logical people, which I think surprised a lot of people to learn, because they, it’s easy to assume that these are just, you know, kind of redneck swivel, backwards beliefs or something. And specifically with unexamined beliefs, these are just their personal prejudices and they’re living them out in the world. When in fact, my grandfather was a well-known award-winning civil rights attorney, he was somebody who had reason to believe that he was on the right side of things on a lot of things. And we were constantly looking around at what other people believed and other understandings of the Bible, and then going back to the word, right, and going back to the King James version of the Bible and trying to show and memorizing chapter and verse, why everybody else was wrong? All the evidence.

So it was a constant process of examination, asking these questions, but I realized before I left that there were two fundamental premises of our ideology that I never questioned. I never truly questioned the idea that the Bible was the literal infallible word of God, and that Westboro understanding of it was the right one, because again, it was all laid out there for me.

And as much as many questions as I asked, from those two premises, essentially everything else basically fell into place. There were a few small contradictions that outsiders were able to find on Twitter. And I do wonder, like, if not for some internal contradiction, relatively small points, if that had never revealed themselves to me, they’d never revealed themselves to me, then I would have just accepted.

I would never have thought to question those two basic premises. And actually, it’s one of the reasons that I came up with this list, because if I asked myself all these hard questions, what I imagined, like I really thought I was digging in deep.

It was really terrifying to realize, like, even when you’re really trying, even when it’s an earnest attempt and all of your intellect. And again, I’m surrounded by people who are all incredibly intelligent and well-intentioned. Like, I know those people. We would do anything for each other, like, you know, and so it’s just the idea that such people could still get to a place that was so wrong and so harmful and so destructive.

It helps me, I guess, now feel a lot of understanding and grace for people, even when they’re doing harmful things. So it’s that question about, are you talking ideas of the people who hold them? That is very, it’s huge to me because of the way that people were able to understand that even though I was doing horrible things, I was trying to do the right thing. And that was something that they could tap into.

And so this is, for me, even though it can be kind of scary to see what people are capable of, even when they’re trying to do the right thing, it’s also a hopeful thing, because that desire to do good is something that you can tap into, which is why the desire to shut down debate and conversation is so alarming to me because that is the only thing that can ultimately change hearts and minds. And it’s, I think, the only real tool we have outside of actual force and violence to make change.

Yeah. Every crowd, every mob is made up of individuals and it’s reaching the individuals and not allowing this to become mob on mob that will change things for the best, if we’re to have any hope. And your, your story obviously is one of redemption.

And I love everything that you say about the good in your family, I truly do.

Okay. Very last question. Why have you been willing to talk to me? What do you hope this does?

I’ve been willing to talk to you specifically because you wrote me that incredible letter. And because I think I’ve had 100 people at least say, “explain yourself, explain yourself.” But I felt that you and I could have a conversation that interested me. And in terms of what I hope this does, I suppose I hope people enjoy the podcast honestly. I don’t mean this in any arrogant way, and I don’t mean this in any self-pitting way.

But I feel that I’ve said what I’ve said, and maybe when the mist clears, some people will understand better, some will always hate me for what I’ve said, I accept that. I know I won’t ever regret having stood up on this issue ever.

You know, that’s the price you pay. If you want to be universally and eternally beloved, then you must curate your image in a way that I’m simply not prepared to do. I’m not in the business of doing that.

And I’m not taking a long bet here. I’m not thinking, “I think this cultural moment will pass, and therefore I will be vindicated.” I don’t know what the future holds. I only know that I would have betrayed myself, and I passionately believe I would have betrayed a lot of women and girls if I had not stood up on this issue. There are more important things in this world than being popular, and that doesn’t mean it’s more important to me to be right. It means it’s more important to me to do the right thing.

Jo Rowling, thank you so much for speaking with me.

Thank you.

Read J.K. Rowling’s excerpts from “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling: Episode 1”

Read J.K. Rowling’s excerpts from “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling: Episode 2”

Read J.K. Rowling’s excerpts from “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling: Episode 3”

Read J.K. Rowling’s excerpts from “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling: Episode 4”

Read J.K. Rowling’s excerpts from “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling: Episode 5”

J.K. Rowling was not featured in Episode 6 of “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling

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How the Harry Potter books, movies, theme parks and more came to life.
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Issue #89
May 2024

The Unmasking of a Master Forger
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