JK Rowling among 150 public figures to sign controversial letter denouncing ‘cancel culture’

Noam Chomsky, Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie also among those who signed

Louis Chilton
Wednesday 08 July 2020 12:52 BST
JK Rowling in lengthy explanation over transgender comments

A group of 150 writers, academics and activists, including JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood, has signed an open letter objecting to “cancel culture”.

The letter was published on Tuesday in Harper’s Magazine and decries “a vogue for public shaming and ostracism”.

One part reads: “The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.”

Another states: “As writers, we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk-taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences.”

Other prominent names to sign the letter include feminist writer Gloria Steinem, author Malcolm Gladwell and academic Noam Chomsky.

The publication of the letter comes after Rowling was heavily criticised for writing a series of social media posts and an essay that were described as “transphobic”. The best-selling children’s author was also recently condemned for comparing transgender hormone replacement to gay conversion therapy.

Many social media users took issue with the contents of the letter, especially when viewed in light of Rowling’s recent comments.

Historian Kerri Greenidge was one of the people who originally signed the letter, but she has now been removed.

“I do not endorse this @harpers letter,” she wrote on Twitter. “I am in contact with Harper’s about a retraction.”

Atwood’s inclusion among the signatories comes after the author seemed to take a stand in favour of trans rights, writing on Twitter this week: “Some science here… Biology doesn’t deal in sealed Either/Or compartments. We’re all part of a flowing Bell curve. Respect that! Rejoice in Nature’s infinite variety!”

She added: “Sex and gender don’t always go together and are not experienced by all people in the same way. That appears to be undeniable.”

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