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'Lost to Cancel Culture': UK Writers Dump Society of Authors For Rival Union Over Gender Row

CC BY 2.0 / Flickr / switthoft / Gender signs
Gender signs - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.12.2022
Novelist Joanne Harris, chairwoman of the Society of Authors, triggered controversy after some writers accused her of being dismissive of the abuse and threats faced by authors such as JK Rowling for their gender-critical feminist stance.
Writers are reportedly abandoning the UK's largest authors' union for a rival outfit which has vowed to “come to the defense of beleaguered authors”, such as those criticized for rejecting the "woke" belief that self-identified gender takes precedence over biological sex.
The Society of Authors (SoA) has been pronounced “lost to cancel culture” whereas the Free Speech Union (FSU) has offered members of the literary world new provisions allowing them to to "protect themselves" in light of the ongoing gender row, according to local media reports.
Previously, members accused the SoA, which represents about 12,000 writers, and its chairwoman, novelist Joanne Harris, of failing to support members such as JK Rowling who have been facing a backlash for alleged "transphobia".
Author J.K. Rowling attends the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Broadway opening at the Lyric Theatre on Sunday, April 22, 2018, in New York - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.10.2022
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"It has become increasingly clear to us that freedom of expression is under severe pressure within the literary world, with publishers and literary agents often failing to defend their authors when their speech rights come under attack. The freedom of authors to express themselves and of people to read their work without interference or mediation by self-appointed censors is a fundamental human right," the Free Speech Union, founded by British journalist Toby Young, was cited as saying.

The FSU has claimed that its newly appointed Writers' Advisory Council, whose members include authors such as Helen Joyce, Julie Bindel, Anna Pasternak and Andrew Roberts, will help writers "build a public voice capable of putting the case for freedom of expression as robustly as possible".
In this Nov. 13, 2018 file photo, author J.K. Rowling poses for photographers upon her arrival at the premiere of the film 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald', in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.09.2022
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Earlier, Harris, chairwoman of the SoA, found herself in the crosshairs when members declared that the union was failing to support authors that were being "cancelled" or even targeted with abuse for their gender-critical views, such as JK Rowling.
The best-selling authoress, famous for her iconic Harry Potter saga, claimed that the SoA under Harris' leadership had "consistently failed" in this regard. Rowling, a "gender-critical" feminist who has denied being transphobic, has repeatedly received death threats for her stance in sex and gender debates. She has been under fire for years for criticizing the use of "gender-neutral" language to describe menstruating women, allowing access to women-only spaces and sporting competitions to biological males, and for challenging assertions by politicians that "trans women are women".
Rowling also received what appeared to be a death threat not long after fellow author, Sir Salman Rushdie, was stabbed and left critically injured. The British-American author who was born in India and who has won a large number of literary prizes over the course of his literary career, was stabbed in August as he was about to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state. Rushdie’s book 'The Satanic Verses' is regarded as blasphemous by many Muslims.
In this Nov. 13, 2018 file photo, author J.K. Rowling poses for photographers upon her arrival at the premiere of the film 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald', in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.08.2022
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After the Rushdie attack, Harris posted a Twitter poll asking authors whether they had ever received "credible death threats", in what some perceived to be a swipe at Rowling.
An open letter penned earlier by author Julie Bindel and a host of others declared that Harris was dismissive when it came to the abuse faced by members of the union, and expressed "deep disquiet and anger at the Society of Authors’ abject failure to speak out on violent threats towards its members."
It was suggested that Harris quit her post “in light of her documented behavior and comments, which are not compatible with the society’s goals of protecting free expression and their policy of dignity and respect”. However, when a vote was held to remove Harris, the motion went in her favor by 608 votes to 143.
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