J.K. Rowling and the Curious Case of the Misogynist Troll

J.K. Rowling is successful and rich beyond the dreams of avarice thanks to her Harry Potter creation, but crops up in the media on a regular basis discussing the ‘Nationalist abuse’ she receives from supporters of the SNP and/or Scottish independence. She’s spoken before of her distress in regards the abuse she’s received online, and indeed, I have no doubt she’s received the usual steaming heap of misogynist bullshit that successful women get on social media. She also has a reputation in the media for ‘taking down trolls’.

Last night the former SNP MP and now standing as an independent MP, Natalie McGarry Tweeted about Rowling’s ‘defence of misogynist trolls’ and it erupted into a Twitter war, abuse, and threats of legal action.before leading into articles like this in the media today.The troll in question is ‘Brian Spanner‘, a typical social media troll that has an issue with women, but has an odd number of journalists following him, and indeed, J.K Rowling herself follows him and out of the millions that follow her he/she is one of the few hundred she follows back. In fact it seems journalists are close enough with whomever it is to see if they’d go for a coffee with them.


At this point I’ll come clean. I find these Twitter spats fucking tiresome, and as much as I think McGarry is bloody stupid for stirring up Rowling who is as pointed out, well known for ‘sorting out trolls’, there’s a thing the mainstream press is missing here in that Rowling manages to ‘crush trolls’ by calling in the support of probably the biggest fandom on the planet in the shape of Harry Potter fans. So if you are trying to ask why a near billionaire with all the power, time and money in the world is following a pretty nasty bit of work (this Wings Over Scotland article goes into serious detail of ‘Spanner’s’ Tweets) perhaps don’t do it on Twitter?

At the same time, it needs to be pointed out that the media is so insanely compliant to Rowling’s every belch, that they can’t understand the concept of context as seen in this shoddy article from the Huffington Post in regards Irvine Welsh’s take on this. Everything is reported to give Rowling the upper hand, even though in this case there’s a clear double standard in her following ”Spanner” and that in fact, McGarry has at the very least, a valid point here that’s lost because of the legal threat from Rowling. Instead of a discussion of how a near billionaire used the threat of legal action to silence an elected representative asking for her to be scrutinised for once.

It’s just part of how hopeless much of the British, and Scottish media is. Had ”Spanner” been an SNP/Indy supporter we’d have had months and months of his account being scrutinised, and any politicians, celebrities or journalists. There’d be hysterical calls for people to apologise, but instead it’s being brushed aside by larger issues of free speech and press freedom in regards the sacking by the Herald of Angela Haggerty by its editor after threats from fans of the football club Rangers.

Both the Rangers and Rowling story show how the diehard Scottish/British establishment and their agents ensure that they enact power over people, and if you’re J.K. Rowling with hundreds and hundreds of millions in the bank, and millions of fans following you from all over the planet then you can’t lose, even if you’re actually a bit of a hypocrite.

Neil Gaiman has a quote:

Most commentary on the internet seems to break down into people picking sides based on personalities and opinions.

And its totally true. That quote is from this piece Gaiman wrote that Rowling plagiarised him with Harry Potter, something not true as both were drawing from the same sort of tropes and archetypes. However that quote is true here. In this case the media commentary have sided with Rowling while at the same time ignoring the abusive, misogynistic bullshit women like Angela Haggerty took online, and wrote about in her last column for the Herald.

If Rowling was this ‘slayer of trolls’ then why hasn’t she spoken out against the likes of ‘Brian Spanner’, or exposed him for who he/she really is? Haggerty sums it up in closing in her last article.

What is required is for both men and women to stand up to this abuse online when it occurs; for employers to show unwavering support to staff who must use social media in their jobs and be uncompromising about who is to blame for these attitudes.

Women are not the problem.

We do not bring this on ourselves, we do not deserve it and we should never be required to change our

behaviour or lower our voices to

placate the intolerant misogynist mob.

J.K Rowling chose not to speak up against ‘Brian Spanner’. Her choice, nobody else’s. Perhaps our media could remember that and do well to ask her why, or is it a case that because she’s a ‘personality’ many in our media like and who’s politics align with theirs that it’s best to look the other way. After all, it’s only another misogynistic troll isn’t it?

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