NY Times Ad Snuggles Up to Cancel Culture: J.K. Rowling a Transphobic ‘TERF’

February 24th, 2022 9:35 AM

Author J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series of fantasy novels, has been the subject of “cancellation” and even violent threats for standing up for the biological reality of women against the radical trans ideology, in which a biological man is free to self-identify as a woman and invade women’s spaces.

One of her ideological opponents is the New York Times, which attacked the author, among other places, in a December 2019 news story, for noting basic biology, and a June 2020 news story, for acknowledging the reality that only women have the ability to menstruate. London-based reporter Jenny Gross’s piece was headlined “Groups Label Author’s Post On Twitter As Insensitive.”

But the story’s bigger journalistic crime was an editorial detail. The original URL link at the top of the story (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/07/arts/jk-rowling-terf-transphobic.html) actually contained the slur “terf,” a derogatory acronym employed by trans activists to smear their feminist opponents. It stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminists” and has no place in mainstream journalism. The URL also included the insult “transphobic.”

Clearly someone had second thoughts about the slur against Rowling; the link now resolves into a more conventional URL. (The term “terf” had previously appeared in The Times only in trans-activist opinion pieces.)

Now a new Times ad campaign has captured public anger and ridicule, courtesy of Twitter user T. Greer, who noticed the video ad playing on a screen while riding the Metro subway system in Washington, D.C. and captured some stills. Superimposed across the side of a woman’s face are various lines in Times font, including: “Lianna is Imagining Harry Potter Without Its Creator.” The woman is Lianna, apparently an actual Times reader.

The text is not actually a threat against Rowling -- although it is deeply tacky to personally attack a single person and uphold them for criticism in an ad campaign. The text is an adaptation of an insulting headline to yet another hostile story the paper ran about Rowling, in June 2020, which took the side of some presumptuous “fan-fiction” writers and fans under the delusion you could somehow have Harry Potter without Rowling (she who must not be named in that headline).

There’s nothing random about the choice of that anti-Rowling headline. Everything about an advertising campaign is carefully chosen and curated by a marketing department – the paper didn’t just pick the first random reader willing to go on camera and proceed to publicize her article reading list. A Hot Air headline pungently captured the paper’s target market with their own sarcastic take on what kind of subscribers the paper was seeking: “If you like cancel culture, you'll love our paper.”