Report: Warner Bros. Games President Says Transphobe J. K. Rowling Has "The Right To Hold Her Opinions"

Illustration for article titled Report: Warner Bros. Games President Says Transphobe J. K. Rowling Has The Right To Hold Her Opinions
Screenshot: Hogwart’s Legacy

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is a transphobe. Maybe someone could let Warner Bros. Games president David Haddad know that that should be called out and condemned.

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As Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier reports, Haddad was asked in an internal Q&A today about the widespread criticism of Rowling over her public and toxic transphobic views, which have been condemned by everyone up to and including Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson. Given the fact that WB is currently working on a big new Harry Potter game, his answer may not surprise you:

Not a lot I can comment on, other than, since we did get so many [questions], I wanted to be responsive the best way I could.

The way I think I’d like to do it is, I’d like to echo something you’ve heard from our most senior executive leadership.

While JK Rowling is the creator of Harry Potter, and we are bringing that to life with the power of Portkey, in many places, she’s a private citizen also. And that means she’s entitled to express her personal opinion on social media. I may not agree with her, and I might not agree with her stance on a range of topics, but I can agree that she has the right to hold her opinions.

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Schreier adds that, “Later in the Q&A, Haddad answered a question about diversity/inclusion by adding that WB Games is working with LGBTQ rights orgs and that he spent an hour and a half talking to the director of trans media representation at GLAAD. No mention of Rowling or Harry Potter there.”

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

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DISCUSSION

merlin
Taliesin_Merlin

Does this fallacy have a name?

It seems to go something like this. Person R expresses a view that many members of the public strongly object to. Some people object to that view so strongly that it would influence what they do regarding Person R’s opinions or works in the future. Person R is publicly criticized for their opinion.

Someone who benefits monetarily or emotionally from Person R (Person H) rises up to defend Person R. “She’s entitled to express her personal opinion on social media,” he says.”She has a right to hold her opinion.”

The rhetorical move shifts the focus. It is no longer about debating Person R’s views and how to respond to her. It isn’t even about Person H’s views. It is about entitlement or rights to speech, things that in the original discussion were not under debate. Person H has shifted the debate to an easier question. Of course she has that entitlement and that right to air her view. But that wasn’t the original focus. Rather than addressing her views, or his views, or how his disagreement with her views can be compatible with his personal and financial decisions, he diverts attention away. In this specific case, it’s a convenient way to not address trans rights at all.

Is it a conventional red herring? A non sequitur, because Rowling’s rights were never in dispute? Is this an irrelevant conclusion or missing the point, where they’ve gone to the wrong juncture? I’ve seen this specific kind of appeal (“she has a right to hold her opinion”) enough that it may constitute a special fallacy, but I don’t know if that exists.