J. K. Rowling’s courageous stand for truth

This year’s was a particularly memorable April Fools’ Day.

First, Scotland’s new Hate Crime and Public Order Act came into force, making it illegal to “stir up hatred” against people based on their age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or other protected characteristics.

It’s a fool’s errand to try to police hatred — a subjective and internalised feeling if ever there was one — not to mention the even more ambiguous “crime” of stirring up hatred.

But fools rush in, and thanks to the new woke law, anyone found guilty of sufficiently hurting another person’s feelings in Scotland, even in their private residence or online, will face up to seven years in prison. A fool’s paradise indeed.

Into the breach

In response to all this foolishness, bestselling author J. K. Rowling, who calls Scotland home, shared her own April Fools’ joke in the form of a lengthy X thread.

Scotland’s Hate Crime Act comes into effect today,” she began. “Women gain no additional protections, of course, but well-known trans activist Beth Douglas, darling of prominent Scottish politicians, falls within a protected category. Phew!”

Rowling’s words captioned two screenshots of social media posts made by Douglas that show the trans activist wielding knives and axes, and stating that “direct action gets the goods” and “you can take the change by force”.

But Rowling wasn’t done.

“Lovely Scottish lass and convicted double rapist Isla Bryson found her true authentic female self shortly before she was due to be sentenced,” wrote Rowling, posting photos of an evidently male criminal who apparently hoped for lighter sentencing with a newfound trans identity.

“Misgendering is hate, so respect Islas pronouns, please,” Rowling added sarcastically.

Eight more tweets followed, cataloguing an assortment of sporting opportunists, undeserving women’s rights appointees, and convicted criminals.

Then for the punchline:

“April Fools!” Rowling declared.

“Only kidding. Obviously, the people mentioned in the above tweets aren’t women at all, but men, every last one of them.”

She ended her post with a thoughtful critique of the new law, which, she argues, prioritises male self-identification over the rights of actual women, and that will inevitably hurt girls, incentivise abuse, scramble crime data, silence dissent and outlaw biology.


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Then came her most courageous words:

I’m currently out of the country, but if what I’ve written here qualifies as an offence under the terms of the new act, I look forward to being arrested when I return to the birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenment.

Rowling’s parting remarks won praise from all corners of the internet, and for good reason. It was a brilliant play — arguably a first-move checkmate that neutered Scotland’s dystopian law out of the gate.


By very unambiguously and very publicly breaking the Hate Crime Act on its very first day, Rowling cornered Scottish authorities, forcing them to respond in one of two ways, both equally fatal.

Option one would be to enforce the law, arrest Rowling, and shine an international spotlight on the law’s abject insanity. Option two would be to not enforce the law and thereby render it as worthless as the paper it’s written on. Heads she wins, tails they lose.

They lost.

Within a day, Police Scotland had announced that Rowling’s post was not being treated as criminal.

Rowling welcomed the news, writing,

I hope every woman in Scotland who wishes to speak up for the reality and importance of biological sex will be reassured by this announcement, and I trust that all women — irrespective of profile or financial means — will be treated equally under the law.

In response to the fear that Scottish authorities will still target people who don’t have the means to defend themselves, Rowling announced,

If they go after any woman for simply calling a man a man, I’ll repeat that woman’s words and they can charge us both at once.

It is difficult to overstate the heroic courage of J. K. Rowling. She was willing to put her freedom, wealth and remaining good name on the line, venturing where angels fear to tread, in order to speak the truth and defend the vulnerable.

By doing so, let’s just hope she has inspired a generation of young women to do the same.

Can a law against "hate crimes" actually work? How can governments maintain a balance between free speech and social harmony? Let us know what you think in the comments below.  

Kurt Mahlburg is a writer and author, and an emerging Australian voice on culture and the Christian faith. He has a passion for both the philosophical and the personal, drawing on his background as a graduate architect, a primary school teacher, a missionary, and a young adult pastor.

Image: Wikimedia Commons


Showing 15 reactions

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  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2024-04-09 19:43:13 +1000
    Yes. Also, respecting someone’s preferred pronouns is just basic human decency.

    You wouldn’t like it if people started addressing you by the wrong name, would you?
  • Martin Fitzgerald
    So that’s what you call hate speech?
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2024-04-09 10:39:36 +1000
    It’s quite possible, Martin. Parents frequently harm their children verbally. Emotional blackmail would fall under this category.

    Saying things like “If you loved me, you’d clean your room” or “I’ll die if you don’t do everything I say” are abusive and should be prohibited.
  • Martin Fitzgerald
    It would only be a publicity stunt if she waits for the first person to be prosecuted and doesn’t post exactly the same thing. These laws are iniquitous. And if I say I’m a victim of someone else’s speech David and they’ve hurt me, then does that mean I am?
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2024-04-09 10:15:18 +1000
    What makes you think I was kidding or being sarcastic?
  • Martin Fitzgerald
    You’re kidding aren’t you Paul?
  • David Page
    commented 2024-04-09 10:00:38 +1000
    Speech should never be criminalized unless there is an actual victim. And, as I understand it, her objection wasn’t toward transgender people but those who would use the law to gain access to vulnerable women.
  • Kurt Mahlburg
    commented 2024-04-06 23:32:06 +1100
    That’s a great point Janet. Let’s hope so.
  • Janet Grevillea
    We should watch how things turn out in Scotland and ponder how things will turn out in this country. Queensland’s hate law is due to take effect from the end of April. Do we have brave public figures to stand up for freedom of speech in our own land?
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2024-04-06 14:38:55 +1100
    It’s all nonsense. The police were never going to do anything anyway. It was a publicity stunt.

  • Kurt Mahlburg
    commented 2024-04-06 12:42:37 +1100
    Hi Paul. I wish you were right. Sadly, the new Scottish law was designed to criminalise exactly the kind of comment Rowling made. For anyone claiming otherwise, I’d say the onus of proof is on them.
  • mrscracker
    I think J.K. Rowling called their bluff , and good for her, but had she not been someone with the same prestige things might have turned out differently.
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2024-04-05 15:45:09 +1100
    It was just a thinly-veiled attempt to get attention. No one was going to arrest her for a silly tweet.
  • Kurt Mahlburg
    published this page in The Latest 2024-04-05 11:46:23 +1100
  • Michael Cook
    followed this page 2024-04-05 11:45:52 +1100