J.K. Rowling accepts an award onstage during the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Hosts 2019 Ripple Of Hope Gala. She's smirking.

India Willoughby Explains the Troubling Reason Why J.K. Rowling Is ‘Beyond Criticism’ in British Media

Rowling really knows how to out-worst herself.

Well, folks, it looks like perpetual victim and anti-trans advocate J.K. Rowling is back at it again—it being using her vast wealth and power to silence any and all negative press about her in the U.K. because she just can’t help but be the worst person in any situation.

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Rowling recently appeared to send her army of lawyers out towards actor J.J. Welles, who posted on Twitter that Rowling “absolutely has views that align with Nazis.” And, because Rowling is a super mature person who totally doesn’t get butthurt when people call her out on when she cozies up to literal Nazis, she responded with a tweet saying, “Okey dokey, JJ, we’ll play it your way. Give my regards to your solicitor!” Not long after this exchange, Welles deleted all of his negative Rowling tweets and replaced them with an apology towards the author. But, because people can put two and two together, it seemed very clear that Rowling had abused the legal system to silence someone’s criticism.

It seems like she’s repeating this pattern of behavior, or at least people are afraid that she will, as broadcaster and journalist India Willoughby revealed on Twitter that a commission she had written about Rowling’s terrible podcast, The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling—in which Rowling paints herself as a defenseless victim while also spouting transphobic rhetoric that’s been used to help pass anti-trans legislation—had been blocked even though her editor loved it.

Willoughby indicated in her tweet that the article was blocked due to the publication’s fear of Rowling hitting them with a SLAPP, or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. These are lawsuits used by the wealthy to take their critics to court and tie them up in the system all while knowing that they will be overwhelmed by legal fees, whether the suit actually has any merit or not. The suits are incredibly petty and frivolous, but their main goal is to shut down any dissent against someone in power.

You can file a SLAPP suit in both the U.S. and U.K., but the two countries have vastly different standards when it comes to the proceedings—and, in the U.S., protections against SLAPP suits even vary by state. In the U.S. in general, though, libel is more difficult to prove, which doesn’t necessarily prevent a SLAPP suit, but makes them a bit less frightening.

Libel laws in the U.K. are generally more favorable to the person accusing someone else of libel, which makes the prospect of battling a SLAPP suit on the subject more dangerous. British courts heavily favor public figures, as Jenny Afia, a lawyer in London who has represented people making libel and privacy claims, explained to NPR that those courts are “much more favorable for someone looking to protect their reputation.”

This abuse of the British legal system by Rowling sets a dangerous precedent for journalists in the U.K. going forward, as Willoughby correctly pointed out in her follow up tweet.

J.K. Rowling is not above the law or criticism, whether she likes it or not. No one is saying she should be harassed or anything of that sort, but no one should have the power to shut down criticism just because they don’t like it. If Rowling has the right to go around spewing lies and bigoted takes about the trans community that lead to real people being harmed, then people like India Willoughby and I should have the right to call her out on her bullshit.

(featured image: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for for Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)

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Kayla Harrington
Kayla Harrington (she/her) is a staff writer who has been working in digital media since 2017, starting at Mashable before moving to BuzzFeed and now here at The Mary Sue. She specializes in Marvel (Wanda Maximoff did nothing wrong!), pop culture, and politics. When she's not writing or lurking on TikTok, you can find Kayla reading the many unread books on her shelves or cuddling with one of her four pets. She's also a world class chef (according to her wife) and loves to try any recipe she can find.