J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, is not in the habit of abstaining from politics on social media. As a matter of course, she has been speaking out against policies proposed and enacted by America's newly inaugurated President Donald Trump.
Unsurprisingly, social media users who disagree with Rowling's views sometimes respond by tweeting to her, telling her she should stick to writing books. She's not the only celebrity to get this -- "stay in your lane" is a pretty common line addressed to entertainers who speak out on political or social issues.
However, anyone paying attention to J.K. Rowling knows she isn't only political online. Her Harry Potter books, for instance, are well-known for their message of inclusiveness and equality. (If that sounds odd, think how the heroes of the book handle such matters as enslaved house-elf or the slur "mudblood.")
Before Rowling became known as an author, she had her hand in human rights. She was, according to Biography Online, working for Amnesty International when the Harry Potter idea struck her.
She isn't just spouting off from a celebrity perch, either. Rowling has continued to make efforts to improve the world, donating so much money to charities that the Tampa Bay Times reported in 2013 she had dropped off the Forbes list of billionaires, due, in part, to charitable gifts.
Rowling also has her own charity, Lumos, which works to provide education and health care, among other needs, to children in institutions.
In short, if there was an agreed-upon rule that celebrities and entertainers who don't participate in human rights matters shouldn't advocate for them politically, it would not apply to J.K. Rowling.
However, Rowling spoke up on Saturday to remind social media followers that there is no such rule, at least in a free society.
It began with a tweet from Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, regarding Donald Trump's executive order regarding immigration, and the resulting chaos in airports, where returning green card and visa holders were detained and not permitted re-entry into the country, leading to protests at airports across the U.S.Rowling retweeted Parsi's statement, adding that this resembled stories she had heard while working with Amnesty International.Several of Rowling's followers chimed in to agree and add their own experiences and concerns. However, not everyone was happy with J.K. Rowling weighing in on a matter of human rights and politics. One Twitter user, going by the screen name Mr. America, jumped in to complain.
"You're a grown [expletive] woman whose entire career is based on stories about a nerd who turns people into frogs. Stay out of politics."Aside from perhaps failing to fully research J.K. Rowling's career history before expressing an opinion on it, according to the author, Mr. America missed something else: in a free country, anyone can express an opinion regarding the government, and Rowling told him so. Oh, one more thing Mr. America missed -- the actual content of J.K. Rowling's books. Telling celebrities (at least, the ones one disagrees with) to stay out of politics has become a pretty major trend of late, but J.K. Rowling shut it down in this case and reminded us of something relevant not only to entertainers, but every American, and every person in any society that values free speech.
"In free countries, anyone can talk about politics."Free speech allows celebs like J.K. Rowling to weigh in on politics, and the free market allows the public to decide what speech to support, through their purchasing choices. An example of that is seen in those boycotting musicians for their choice about participating in Donald Trump's inauguration activities.
However, it's probably a safe bet that J.K. Rowling won't suffer any noticeable financial constraints from any small subset of her audience put off by her stance for human rights in this case.
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