While being honored Monday night at the 2016 PEN Literary Gala & Free Expression Awards, Harry Potter wizard J.K. Rowling defended everyone's right to free speech — including Donald Trump's. The presumptive Republican nominee has sparred with British Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Sadiq Khan recently, and many Brits don't want him anywhere near their country. However, Rowling opposes petitions to ban Trump from the U.K., arguing that taking away his ability to speak his mind would jeopardize everybody's.
"I find almost everything that Mr. Trump says objectionable. I consider him offensive and bigoted," Rowling said Monday. "But he has my full support to come to my country and be offensive and bigoted there. His freedom to speak protects my freedom to call him a bigot. His freedom guarantees mine."
The British Parliament debated banning Trump from the U.K. after he called for all Muslims to be barred from entering the U.S. Though it gave legislators the opportunity to vocally oppose the American's Islamophobic policies, they didn't really have the power to block him from the country. Nevertheless, Rowling doesn't think that's the correct response to Trump's rise in power — not only would it be a similar action as his, prohibiting him from coming to the U.K. would seriously undermine people's freedom of speech on any topic.
Speaking at the annual gala, Rowling continued:
If my offended feelings can justify a travel ban on Donald Trump, I have no moral grounds to argue that those offended by feminism or the fight for transgender rights or universal suffrage, should not oppress campaigners for those causes. If you seek the removal of freedoms from an opponent simply on the ground that they have offended you, you have crossed a line to stand alongside tyrants who imprison, torture, and kill on exactly the same justification.
On top of simply opposing Trump's bigoted rhetoric, U.K. officials found themselves in personal feuds with the billionaire. Trump utilized his right to say whatever crosses his mind by challenging London's first Muslim mayor to take an IQ test Monday after Khan said Trump's views of Islam are ignorant. After the prime minister criticized Trump's proposed ban on Muslims, calling it "divisive, stupid, and wrong" in December, the American Republican lashed back by saying he would not have a good relationship with Cameron if elected president.
Despite how appealing it may sound to ban Trump from the U.K. entirely, Rowling highlighted why Cameron, Khan, and all Brits should deal with the Republican differently. As much as they may hate him, Trump is free to say whatever he wants within the U.S. or U.K.