In a massive moment of eating crow, a transgender activist who publicly and proudly accused Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling of being a literal Nazi over her personal views on transgender issues has come forward and offered an apology for his behavior.
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The situation surrounding Rowling and the activist, Irish drag queen J.J. Welles, first began on December 27th, 2022, when the latter took his personal brand of combative advocacy to Twitter.
Replying to a tweet by retired Stamford CT police officer and veteran gay activist Fred Sargeant (who not only participated in the Stonewall Riots but also helped organize the very first Pride March) in which he shared a meme declaring “LGB people owe trans people nothing, Trans people owe LGB people everything” and then noted that “Wanker Owen Jo, Welles attacked, “Trust me, nobody is gonna make you famous you outdated old dinosaur. Your hateful views and bullshit you spread have seen to that.”
“You’re obsolete and you won’t be around much longer and thank god for that because ACAB,” the activist continued. “Especially you, traitor.”
From there, Welles would spend the next few days aggressively engaging with and attempting to antagonize his ideological opponents – in particular Sargeant – before ultimately finding himself in the crosshairs of Father Ted co-creator Graham Linehan.
A prominent critic of transgender politics, Linehan found himself taken aback by how, in the course of his wild swingings, Welles had written off Sargeant and actor James Dreyfus as nothing more than “‘scumbags””.
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In light of Linehan entering the discourse, one of Welles’ supporters felt the need to offer the activist both support and thanks by promoting his career.
“Twitter bully Graham Linehan is currently encouraging his 500,000 followers to harass this lad,” wrote @GRALCreates. “Linehan is obsessed with posting screenshots of his tweets and mocking him. So, I’m giving his Spotlight page a boost.”
@GRALCreates’ call to arms was soon countered by fellow Twitter user @Fragglegal, who asserted, “Read up on this lad, he does exactly the same. If he can’t take it, he shouldn’t dish it out”.
Dodging her point and failing to recognize the hypocrisy of the man he was supporting, @GRALCreates shot back, “You think he deserves to be humiliated by a man with 500,000 followers, many of whom have replied to him with abuse, and Graham has even mocked his career. You think that’s fine, Jane?”
Refusing to let @GRALCreates ignore the disingenuous nature of Welles’ own social media activity go, another Twitter user, @furcoatanenaek1, countered, “You think it’s fine publicly to incite violence towards a woman just because he doesn’t like her views? And you think it’s you guys who AREN’T the bigots?
“Don’t be so daft he did nothing of the sort,” @GRALCreates denied.
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However, likewise refusing to let the activist and his supporters gaslight the public, @CindyBlack3 interjected, “Why lie? We have receipts”.
Alongside her declaration, @CindyBlack3 shared a screenshot of a now-deleted September 22, 2020 tweet made by Welles in which he declared, “J.K. Rowling was one of my childhood idols. But that was before she was a transphobic piece of s–t. How confident is she that she’s a witch that won’t burn? I’ve got a stake that begs to put it to the test”.
Taking notice of the criticism being leveled his way over this tweet, Welles would later join the conversation himself to explain, “Well to be fair the woman in question wasn’t actually being threatened with being burned alive. Hyperbolic metaphor based on her original tweet (but you know that you’re playing dumb intentionally for clout) and she also IS a Nazi or at least has views that align with them.”
Following a break from the social media platform for the holidays – itself preceded by him personally flagging many of the users who disagreed with him – Welles would once again begin posting to his account on December 29th.
Upon his return, Twitter user @LeftyUnwoke mocked, “And he’s back. Turns out your pitiful mass flagging of opposing views didn’t bear the fruits you hoped for. Stay pressed you joke of an activist.”
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“He’s back for now,” Welles attempted to play along. “And if Twitter doesn’t sort it, my solicitor will”.
It was at this point, courtesy of Welles’ attempt at a dig, that Rowling found herself among those unable to let the activist’s bad faith tantrums continue.
“The thing about the solicitors game is everyone can play, JJ,” said the author. “I ignored your ‘hyperbolic metaphor’ about burning me to death in 2020, but I’m starting to think that was a mistake. What’s your solicitor’s view on this Nazi accusation? Would they advise you to defend it in court?”
“Well, well, well,” embarassingly replied Welles. “We meet at last. To think you were once an icon to me. I think you absolutely have views that align with Nazis. I think Fred ALSO has views that align with Nazis. I think relying on tropes and stereotypes is VERY 1930s propaganda.”
“Let’s be realistic,” he would add in follow-up. “Antisemetic tropes in a children’s book are one thing, but implying and encouraging the idea that a protected group of vulnerable people need to be eradicated and don’t deserve protection? That’s not the woman we idolised as children.
In turn, Rowling would pity Welles, explaining, “JJ, if anybody close to you had your best interests at heart, they’d strongly advise you not to keep handing my lawyers ammunition.”
“Setting aside the burning-at-the-stake tweet you posted about me, which you now claim was a metaphor (and which I ignored, against advice) you’ve published defamatory statements about me and are compounding the offence by saying I’m encouraging the eradication of a group of vulnerable people,” she furhter wrote. “All this came about in the context of you attacking @FredSargeant, a gay rights icon, and wishing for his death.”
“I understand that you and your ilk feel untouchable,” observed Rowling, who then signed off, “I understand that in your own minds you’re heroes of unimpeachable righteousness, justified in slurring, defaming and threatening. You were the one who dragged his lawyer into this so, by all means, let’s go to lawyers.”
And that’s where things remained until February 13th, where seemingly apropros of nothing, Welles announced via his personal Twitter, “I would like to publicly apologise for a previous Twitter thread where I interacted with JK Rowling on matters relating to the transgender community. I have now removed these tweets and would like to apologise to JK Rowling directly for causing potential upset.”
“I failed to choose my words with care and would like to retract my previous statements relating to her views on the LGBTQ+ and more specifically, transgender people,” the activist ultimately admitted. “I would also like to retract my likening to JK Rowling to any far right or Nazi organisation and emphasise I do not wish any individual, inclusive of JK Rowling, to come to any harm.”
It’s possible – and even likely given both their respective warnings that they would be ‘lawyering up’ and the wording of his three tweets – that Welles’ apology to Rowling is a result of legal action.
However, as of writing, whether or not he was compelled to make this apology under threat of law remains unconfirmed.
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