It’s an intolerant world. All writers know this. There’s nary a one of us that hasn’t been on the receiving end of some kind of attack based on what we’ve written. The hate comes in all forms, from a simple “you idiot” screed to something more devious, hate-filled, and agenda-based.
That doesn’t mean that we censor ourselves.
It also doesn’t mean that we try and censor others.
When J.K. Rowling, who used to work for Amnesty International, spoke at the PEN America Literary Gala earlier this week, she talked about how “flattered” she had been to find her work so frequently banned and excoriated by religious zealots.
But she refused to countenance the repression of “alternative viewpoints,” even for the likes of somebody like Donald Trump. When an audience member clapped at her mention of an online petition to ban Trump from England, here is what Rowling said:
I find almost everything that Mr. Trump says objectionable. I consider him offensive and bigoted. 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 … If my offended feelings can justify a travel ban on Donald Trump, I have no moral ground on which 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 them grounds that they have offended you eat, you have crossed the line to stand alongside tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justification…
To put it another, more bumper sticker-friendly way: Mean people suck, especially when they hate your writing. But the alternative is always worse.