J.K Rowling’s literary agent Neil Blair is among the 153 backers of an open letter warning of an “intolerance of opposing views” and “a vogue for public shaming and ostracism.”
The JW3 board member put his name to the letter, published online by Harper’s Magazine on Tuesday and to appear in the publication’s October issue.
Other high profile signatories include New York Times journalist Bari Weiss, activist Gloria Steinem, scholar Noam Chomsky, as well as authors Martin Amis, J.K Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood.
The letter, which generated an online debate, claims that a “needed reckoning” over racial and social justice and equality has “intensified” views that tend to “weaken our norms of open debate”.
It warns that “editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations [sic] are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes.”
“Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal,” it says.
Critics accused Rowling, 54, of transphobia in a lengthy blog post published on her website last month, an allegation she denies.
The blog post sparked a row, with the Harry Potter author drawing a flood of supportive and critical messages on social media.