Putin uses JK Rowling as case for Western cynicism and 'cancel culture'

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In the latest – and one of the most bizarre – escalations in Russia’s war with Ukraine, president Vladimir Putin has compared the ‘cancellation’ of Harry Potter author J K Rowling to actions taken against his country by the West.

Making the comments in a televised address on Friday, the leader claimed the international community – who have slapped sanctions on Russia following the country’s invasion – were “trying to cancel our country”.

He said: “They cancelled Joanne Rowling recently - the children’s author, her books are published all over the world – just because she didn’t satisfy the demands of gender rights."

Rowling, 55, has sparked controversy in recent years after she began voicing her concerns around trans rights – in remarks which many have considered “transphobic”.

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In one of her earlier tweets on the topic, the novelist – also known by the pen name Robert Galbraith – took issue with a 2020 article that used the phrase “people who menstruate” to be inclusive of trans people.

“I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out.

“Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud,” she wrote.

Her comments have also been criticised by stars of the Harry Potter film franchise, with lead actor Daniel Radcliffe writing in a statement from June 2020 that “transgender women are women”.

In the letter, published by US charity The Trevor Project, Radfcliffe said: “Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.

“To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you.”

More recently, Radcliffe’s co-star Emma Watson addressed the Bafta audience earlier this month while presenting an award and said she was “here for all the witches” – a comment which many considered to be a “dig” at Rowling.

And the author has acknowledged her ‘cancellation’ online too.

When someone tweeted they wished she would receive “a very nice pipebomb in [the] mailbox”, Rowling replied: “To be fair, when you can’t get a woman sacked, arrested or dropped by her publisher, and cancelling her only made her book sales go up, there’s really only one place to go.”

Now that Putin’s seemingly gotten involved in the debate surrounding Rowling, the memes and the discourse have erupted once more – with many questioning if it really is impossible to be cancelled in Russia.

Y’know, what with all the Novichok and detaining of war protestors.

Rowling has since responded to being referenced by an actual warlord, writing on Twitter: "Critiques of Western cancel culture are possibly not best made by those currently slaughtering civilians for the crime of resistance, or who jail and poison their critics. #IStandWithUkraine."

Though in fairness, both Putin and Rowling are alike. In that they are both immersed in the world of fantasy and like ruining childhoods.

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