Social media amused itself briefly tonight over a spat between former SNP MP (now independent) Natalie McGarry and children’s author and hedge enthusiast JK Rowling.
It started like this:
And then some stuff happened.
McGarry alleged that Rowling defended “abusive, misogynist trolls”. Note that last word – “trolls”, not “trolling” – because it’s quite important.
Having needlessly dot-atted McGarry – ensuring that her 6.6 million followers all saw the tweet, with the inevitable result that they piled in en masse – Rowling continued to accuse McGarry of having done something she hadn’t done at all: say that Rowling had defended specific misogynist and abusive COMMENTS, rather than that she’d defended people who regularly made them.
The exchange carried on in similar vein for a while before Rowling tweeted what looked like an implied legal threat:
Faced with the possibility of a defamation lawsuit from someone worth around half a billion pounds, McGarry backed down slightly and posted a qualified apology, also deleting some of her tweets.
Within literally a few minutes of it, newspapers were already publishing breathless accounts of the event.
Weirdly, none of the stories mentioned the person McGarry had clearly identified as the abusive misogynist she was referring to, because doing so might interfere with the cringingly sycophantic “Vile SNP BAD politician viciously attacks sainted Rowling” narrative that almost always accompanies the author in the press.
(The Mirror piece originally called McGarry an “SNP politician”.)
And since we suspect the story will be in just about every paper tomorrow, and we suspect the same thing will be true about all of them, we thought someone ought to put it on the record.
We’re going to go ahead and express the opinion that those tweets – and believe us, we could go on – are indeed misogynist and abusive, particularly the one referencing female genital mutilation (FGM) directed at Margaret Curran and the one to Roseanna Cunningham referencing the menopause. We’d invite readers to imagine the press reaction if WE’D tweeted any of them.
[EDIT 11.18pm: Shortly after we highlighted the tweets, “Spanner” suddenly decided to publicly admit that some were indeed “abusive” and “inappropriate”.]
So the only question left is whether Rowling is “supportive” to the author of them.
Rowling has in fact found the time in her busy life to include “Brian Spanner” in over 200 tweets, regularly referring to him in an unmistakeably friendly manner. Again, in our opinion, “supportive” would be a fair comment with regard to her relationship with him. She follows him (a rare accolade, as she only follows 281 accounts), favourites his tweets and even jokes at one point that she IS him.
As such, our opinion is that JK Rowling is indeed supportive of a misogynist abusive tweeter, which is what Natalie McGarry actually said. If Ms Rowling doesn’t like that, she can sue us instead. But it seemed at least worth mentioning, because we’d lay good money that tomorrow’s newspapers will only tell you one half of the story.