Billy Bragg demands JK Rowling apologise for ‘accusing him of supporting rape threats’

Billy Bragg and JK Rowling.

Musician and activist Billy Bragg has asked JK Rowling to apologise for making a “blatantly inflammatory accusation” after he backed Graham Norton on cancel culture.

On Thursday (13 October), Bragg took to Twitter to commend Graham Norton on his measured response to questions on cancel culture during an appearance at the Cheltenham Literary Festival.

Norton said John Cleese, who has bemoaned cancel culture, was simply facing “accountability”, not being “cancelled”.

He then batted away questions about JK Rowling, whose stance on trans rights has seen her heavily criticised, and consequently held up as a victim of so-called cancel culture.

Norton said: “Talk to trans people, talk to the parents of trans kids, talk to doctors, talk to psychiatrists, to someone who can illuminate this in some way… Please can we rustle up some f**king experts and talking to them?”

Bragg tweeted a clip of the interview, saying: “Norton really good here on John Cleese, telling him that ‘cancel culture’ is just accountability, and JK Rowling, suggesting that the media talk directly to trans teens and their parents rather than merely amplifying the takes of a celebrity.”

Rowling swiftly joined the conversation, quote-tweeting Bragg and adding: “Very much enjoying the recent spate of bearded men stepping confidently onto their soapboxes to define what a woman is and throw their support behind rape and death threats to those who dare disagree.

“You may mock, but takes real bravery to come out as an Old Testament prophet.”

Bragg pointed out: “Hard to think of anything that better illustrates Graham Norton’s point than the sight of someone with 13.9m followers reacting to a call for a fair hearing for trans teens and their parents by equating it to *checks notes* support for rape and death threats.”

As JK Rowling ploughed on, Bragg said that he had no problem with her right to an opinion, but what he did object to was “that you conflate my view with support for rape and death threats”.

“I have never expressed such sentiments and if you had any self respect you would apologise for making such a blatantly inflammatory accusation,” he added.

Rowling hit back: “Self respect? From the guy who tried to use the Holocaust to attack feminists?”

She appeared to be referring to a tweet in which Bragg pointed out the “the potential dangers in seeking to define what rights a person has by their biology alone” by looking at the history of Nazi Germany.

“Women standing up for their rights receive constant threats of sexual violence,” Rowling added.

“Some have lost jobs and been attacked at protests. Good to know you and Norton are OK with the culture, though.”

Rowling briefly took a break from fighting with Bragg to confront another of her critics, who asked how she sleeps at night after alienating a large part of her audience.

Rowling said: “I read my most recent royalty cheques and find the pain goes away pretty quickly.”