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Viral Video: Teacher Teaches Student to Think About ‘Transphobic’ Attacks on J.K. Rowling

Teacher and filmmaker Warren Smith posts videos of classroom discussions (among other subjects) on his Secret Scholar Society YouTube channel. A video Smith posted on January 26 has gone viral, with over 10 million views on X Twitter since Saturday. The YouTube views are just under 450,000 as of this writing.

Smith opens the video asking his students what they want to talk about. A boy (or young man) off camera asks if he still likes the works of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling “despite her bigoted opinions.” (Rowling has been attacked and smeared as “transphobic” for standing up for women’s rights even though she has expressed support for the trans community.)

Through an exercise in critical thinking, Smith leads the student to an epiphany–not by forcing his own opinion of Rowling on the student, but by leading the student to examine his expressed view that Rowling is bigoted.

Lightly edited for formatting excerpt from the YouTube transcript:

Teacher: So these guys want to talk about JK Rowling? Is that, so what’s going on with that, what do you want to know?

Student: Uh, she’s she’s had a pretty controversial past. I just want to know like what are your thoughts on it and like, do you still like her work despite her uh, bigoted opinions?

Teacher: So let’s get specific though, let’s define bigoted opinions, what opinions are bigoted? We’re going to treat this as a thought experiment. I’m not going to say what’s right or wrong or what way to think, the whole point is to learn how to think not what to think. Yeah so when you say bigoted, you ,you’re, you’re starting with the conclusion that given her bigoted opinions. So first let’s start with does she have bigoted opinions? So when when you say bigoted opinions…

Student: She has had a history of being extremely transphobic, I’ve heard.

Teacher: You’ve heard, so what, can you give me an example?

The student pulled up a 2019 tweet by Rowling and read it to the teacher, “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like.
Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?”

The student followed with a 2020 tweet by Rowling that he described as an apology, “I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”

Teacher: So you find that bigoted? What do you find about it that was…

Student: It was deemed transphobic. Like I myself…

Teacher: Do you find that transphobic yourself?

Student: Uh I don’t really have an opinion on it but I’m just going with what a lot of other people have said.

Teacher: So let’s pause it, let’s not go with what other people are saying. Let’s try and learn how to critically think, so let’s analyze the tweet ourselves. So that statement, do you see anything problematic? Disregarding other people’s opinions.

Student: Um, she did try and pin some things on a specific group of per, of people.

Teacher: Where where does she do, do that, can you read that?

Student: “But Force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real”

Teacher: So when I hear that I’m interpreting that as meaning if a woman says that you know saying that there’s a difference between men and female and then being attacked as transphobic, I think that’s what she’s saying by attacking someone for stating that sex is real.

Student: That is exactly what she’s saying.

Teacher: Is that transphobic to you?

Student: So to me, no. Stating that sex is real is not transphobic it’s just a fact of life. It exists.

Teacher: So is there anything you disagree with in that tweet?

Student: Uh, in that tweet I can’t really see anything that I myself disagree with. But I can see why some people would think, ‘oh this is offensive we can’t have that here.’

Teacher: Sure.

Student: Uh, there’s an apology tweet…

Teacher: Let’s read that what did she say there?

Student: “I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”

Please watch the video to see the entire discussion.

The viral post on X Twitter:

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