September 8, 2022 - 3:00pm

It’s magic, though probably not the type JK Rowling had in mind. Composer Christian Henson said something supportive of the Harry Potter author on Twitter and he was gone, just like that, disappeared from the company he co-founded. It’s all in the interests of an “inclusive environment”, according to Will Evans, CEO of Spitfire Audio, whose commitment to inclusivity evidently doesn’t extend to his fellow-director. 

Henson’s cancellation is one of those things that supposedly never happens, according to trans activists. But it is eerily reminiscent of the fate of Rosie Kay, the choreographer who last year was forced out of the company she founded after complaints of “transphobia” from some of her dancers.

“Christian’s going to take a break as we reflect on how to move forward,” Evans announced on Twitter, sounding like a receptionist at KGB headquarters speaking over screams from the basement. Not that anything like that has happened to Henson, I hasten to add, although he might feel that his anxiety about the likely consequences of speaking out about the harm done to children by gender ideology was well-founded. 

“As a parent I can no longer keep my mouth shut about this,” Henson wrote in a tweet that’s now been deleted. “I’m in full support of glinner [the comedy writer Graham Linehan] and @jk_rowling. Please look into this. If you have young children it’s in the post if you have autistic children it’s probably already on your doormat.” It certainly arrived at Henson’s home with full force, just as Rowling’s popularity has been demonstrated once again by the fact that her new novel, The Ink Black Heart, has shot to the top of the bestseller lists. 

Rowling is hard to damage, as her enemies have discovered. She can’t be sacked, her book sales are as buoyant as ever, and being denounced by whining Harry Potter fans merely makes them sound petulant and childish. Less well-known people are another matter, though, especially if they have jobs and mortgages. The fact that someone can be banished from their own company just for mentioning Rowling, and sharing her concern about the medicalisation of children, is evidence of what deserves to be called coercive compassion.

“Be nice or you’re out” is the message. It twists the meaning of common words, so that accusations of “hate” are hurled at anyone who merely disagrees with trans activists. “Hurt” is the latest word to undergo radical transformation, as Henson’s experience shows.  

“Christian’s tweet has caused hurt amongst our community,” in the pious words of Spitfire Audio’s CEO, means that some people disagreed with him. In the real world, people disagree with each other all the time and get on with their lives, where they no doubt have plenty of other things to worry about.

Not in the world of gender ideology, however, where being exposed to opposing views is intolerable. Rowling’s name now has such power to hurt, it seems, that people have to be protected from unexpected exposure to it on social media. And another human being finds himself metaphorically in Siberia, just for daring to write the forbidden syllables.

Joan Smith is a novelist and columnist. She has been Chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Board since 2013. Her book Homegrown: How Domestic Violence Turns Men Into Terrorists was published in 2019.