Why I hate JK Rowling

Full disclosure: I am biased. Harry Potter is one of my favorite series. Calling them children’s books is damning with faint praise, and I’m continually surprised by how well written and well-crafted they are.

And I think that in the beginning, she was an author to respect. She was smart enough to use initials instead of Joanne Rowling. Because, let's face it, it's still a sexist world we live in and women have to write the "right" kind of book (like EAT PRAY LOVE) in order for them to sell. She committed to her world a hundred and ten percent; transforming silly words like Quiddich and muggle into everyday language. But since she has become famous, her personality has shone through. And man, is it disappointing.

First, the suing of a fan; a diehard, worshipping-her-world fan. A man named Vander Ark ran a Harry Potter fansite as a hobby. He declined to publish an encyclopedia because he didn’t want to violate copyright laws. But when the last book was published and he was approached by RDR Books with a promise copyright laws would be intact, he agreed to move forward. Rowling’s response to a fan she previously awarded? Suing him. Calling his work “inferior,” she went on and on about how she was losing the will to write. Let’s make note that this is after she has finished the world-famous seventh and final book. Yes, he is destroying her. Clearly suing him was the only option. I just have to wonder Rowling: do you not have enough money or do you have so many fans that one of your most loyal is expendable? A slap in the face to him and a warning to passionate fans worldwide.

Second, she panicked about being out of the media spotlight so she made up a controversial lie about one of her most beloved characters. I have no problem with Dumbledore being gay. If he wants to chase wands not skirts, sure. Whatever makes one of the most legendary men in the wizarding world want to get off, works for me. But make that a character trait, not a publicity stunt to draw attention back to yourself. There was nothing in any of the books (including the last one) that even hinted at homosexual attraction. You've had your 15 minutes; retreat gracefully. Oh no, wait....too late. It's a disappointment. Fans grew to love Dumbledore and whether they are supportive of his new lifestyle or not, it's still a cold shock. Again, a slap in the face to the people who live in her wizarding world.

So it seems that anytime Rowling makes news, it is to dishearten her fans. While I will forever appreciate the art and love the characters, I can only be continually disappointed in their creator.

Stand for Free Speech or Fall for Anything

“Do the right thing and stop selling products that promote criminal violence against living beings.” This bold statement is found in Tracy Reiman’s, the Executive VP of PETA, letter to Amazon asking it to remove offensive content. This is heartfelt and honest, written with the best intentions for animals and people alike. And while Reiman makes a good point, I feel that the protection of our freedom of speech, even in situations we might not like, takes precedence.

Imagine if we didn’t have this first of our Amendments. Reiman might not even be able to write her passionate, seething letter to Amazon. She might not be allowed to express her opinion without fear of repercussions.

“Censorship (is) inconsistent with American values…the Internet is, and must remain, the most open marketplace of ideas in the history of the world. Limiting its reach has a direct impact on the speech and privacy rights of all Americans.” Michael Macleod-Ball from the ACLU is clear about his stance on freedom of speech and censorship. And it’s really one or the other.

So the question is: whose side are you on?

I’m free speech all the way. Look at our list of banned books. How many on this list are classics that we now can’t imagine living without? How many works have pushed social issues into the forefront even though it’s uncomfortable? But more importantly, how are we supposed to live if we are forever afraid of offending?

Don’t be hypocritical. Either stand for free speech or move out of its way. If we bend and cave for every unhappy party, we will find ourselves living within the pages of Fahrenheit 451 before we realize it.

Oh, and fyi, I was totally going to read The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure. I bet you’re not surprised.
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