Organisers of a book festival in New Zealand that was meant to feature a Harry Potter-themed segment decided to cancel it this year because of J.K. Rowling’s tweets that were viewed as transphobic.
The board chairman for the Featherston’s Booktown festival, Peter Biggs, told the New Zealand-based publication “Stuff” that the decision to drop the annual Harry Potter-themed quiz was not taken lightly, and it came after discussions with members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“The overwhelming response was that there was a risk around causing distress to particular members of the community, and that was the last thing we wanted to do,” Biggs told the publication.
“We always thought Booktown should be an inclusive, welcoming place for everyone, so we took the decision not to go with Harry Potter,” he added.
The book festival, which reportedly runs from May 6-9, is set to host a discussion that will examine the “cancel culture” phenomenon and its impact on New Zealand art and literature.
Local LQBTQIA+ advocates had mixed reviews to the news of the Harry Potter quiz cancellation.
Tabby Besley, of the Inside Out charity told “Stuff” that the decision was proof that the organisers were trying to create an inclusive community.
“I think it’s a strong decision that shows they’re really trying to be an inclusive community and support their rainbow and transgender young people,” Besley told the publication.
However, a local feminist activist found the decision ironic since the event was set to cover “cancel culture” and the organisers had essentially cancelled Rowling.
“I think they might be trying to capitalise on the current fad of cancel culture,” Jenny Whyte told ’Stuff’.
“Featherston Booktown has a session selling tickets to a panel discussing cancel culture, so there's an irony, certainly,” she added.
This is not the the first time the 55-year-old best-selling author has been “cancelled” for her tweets as she faced harsh criticism last June when she mocked an online article for using the term “people who menstruate” instead of “women”.
“I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” read Rowling’s tweet at the time.
‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 6, 2020
Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate https://t.co/cVpZxG7gaA
After this the author reportedly started receiving hateful messages and the hashtag “RIPJKRowling” started trending.
She also faced a backlash when she supported a researcher who lost her job after tweeting that men and women can’t electively change their biological sex.