Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark says people should engage with JK Rowling instead of shunning her

Kirsty Wark(Photo: BBC)

Kirsty Wark has criticised cancel culture after calls for a boycott of JK Rowling over her views on transgenderism. 

The Newsnight presenter told the Sunday Times magazine that the backlash against the Harry Potter author was indicative of an "incredibly dangerous mob mentality". 

Rowling has been at the centre of the culture war over transgenderism after defending single sex spaces and warning of the threat to free speech

Wark, 65, said the cancel culture was leaving people like Rowling at risk of being "found guilty in the court of public opinion".  

"Obviously there are lots of people who feel very hurt by what JK Rowling wrote," Wark said. 

"But not publishing her? Locking away? That's not the way to deal with it. You have to engage. I think there is a real issue about cancelling people.

"It's a really, really worrying aspect of our society, because it encourages a kind of mob mentality, which is completely fed by the internet and can become incredibly dangerous."

Wark is not the only high profile figure to hit out at cancel culture.  Last week, Australian rock musician Nick Cave likened it to "bad religion run amuck".

Writing on his website, he said it was having an "asphyxiating effect on the creative soul of a society".

Earlier this month, comedian Ricky Gervais said it was "not cool" to try and get others fired because of their views or comments.

"If it is choosing not to watch a comedian because you don't like them, that's everyone's right. But when people are trying to get someone fired because they don't like their opinion about something that's nothing to do with their job, that's what I call cancel culture and that's not cool," he said.

"Everyone's allowed to call you an a******e, everyone's allowed to stop watching your stuff, everyone's allowed to burn your DVDs, but you shouldn't have to go to court for saying a joke that someone didn't like. And that's what we get dangerously close to.

"If you don't agree to someone's right to say something you don't agree with, you don't agree with freedom of speech."