J. K. Rowling Removed from Museum Due to Views on Sexuality
Author J. K. Rowling may be the creator of one of the biggest pop culture phenomena in history, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find her in the Museum of Pop Culture (MOPOP) in Seattle—at least, not anymore. Recently, MOPOP revealed its decision to scrub the Harry Potter writer’s name from all displays and exhibits.
The reason for the museum’s decision is Rowling’s outspoken and unwavering views on sexuality and gender, particularly regarding transgenderism. The decision was made several months ago but went largely unnoticed until recently.
A lengthy post on the museum’s official blog titled “She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” explains the motivation as an effort to de-emphasize Rowling’s presence within the museum (and in culture). Near the end of the post, the author (who identifies as transgender) writes,
“Of course, the work for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility is a practice. It’s why you’re seeing more signage in our galleries around harmful language and hateful, abusive, and divisive creators.”
These sentiments against harmful language are noticeably incongruent with the essay’s opening statement: “There’s a certain cold, heartless, joy-sucking entity in the world of Harry Potter.” Likewise, championing diversity seemingly does not extend to “diversity of thought” in a post that not only refuses to entertain Rowling’s diverging viewpoints but refrains from naming her at all: “Yes, we’re talking about J. K. Rowling, and no, we don’t like that we’re giving her more publicity, so that’s the last you’ll see of her name in this post.”
Christians have a long and complicated relationship with the Harry Potter writer, and the magical elements in her stories remain controversial in some religious circles. But MOPOP’s decision is emblematic of a concerning recent trend that seeks to reinterpret traditional beliefs in the context of the ideological convictions of the immediate present.
Museums exist to preserve cultural history. They educate the public by showcasing the best and worst moments in the human story. This important function is endangered when museums forsake this identity and instead become tools in the hands of activists who perch in the clouds of enlightenment ready to pass moral judgment on those they deem unrighteous.
As one of the best-selling authors in history, Rowling’s fame is clearly not dependent on having her name listed on a plaque in a single museum—particularly one that still heavily features her stories. In fact, the decision to scrub her from the museum arguably does the opposite. It makes Rowling—and her opinions on sexuality—a central topic of cultural discussion. In other words, Rowling is likely not losing much sleep over MOPOP’s decision.
Still, the trends this incident reflects may have significant, long-lasting implications. At a time when books and digital media can—and are—being edited in real time and museums are censoring the history curators deem disagreeable, traditional beliefs and viewpoints are being challenged on multiple fronts. The need for Christians (and all people who value the importance of history and open discussion) to protect and preserve these traditions remains urgent.