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J.K. Rowling’s Twitter Apology Shows How Social Media Paranoia Can Infect All of Us

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J.K. Rowling, aka everyone’s favorite fantasy writer, found out the hard way that social media has a dark side–and can often make us react without thinking as much as we should.

So, what happened? She initially accused Trump of ignoring 3-year-old Montgomery Weer, a boy with spina bifida who uses a wheelchair, during an event last month at the White House. To Rowling, it seemed like Weer wanted to shake Trump’s hand, and Trump ignored him. But apparently, according to Weer’s mom, that’s not what happened.

Rowling originally tweeted (in a thread which has since been deleted):

“How stunning, and how horrible, that Trump cannot bring himself to shake the hand of a small boy who only wanted to touch the President.

My mother used a wheelchair. I witnessed people uncomfortable around her disability, but if they had a shred of decency they got over it. So, yes, that clip of Trump looking deliberately over a disabled child’s head, ignoring his outstretched hand, has touched me on the raw.”

Given the way Trumpcare was so vociferously protested by kids in wheelchairs, it’s understandable why the Harry Potter author jumped to that conclusion.

But it was still wrong.

Because according to the boy’s mom Marjorie Kelly Weer, the video that circulated on the internet misrepresented what happened. Weer wrote in a post on Facebook: “If someone can please get a message to J.K. Rowling: Trump didn’t snub my son & Monty wasn’t even trying to shake his hand.”

The message got through. Rowling issued an apology to the boy and his family on Twitter, (but not, it should be noted to Trump, which is typical of her style, considering she has been fiercely critical of the Trump administration):

“Multiple sources have informed me that that was not a full or accurate representation of their interaction. I very clearly projected my own sensitivities around the issue of disabled people being overlooked or ignored onto the images I saw and if that caused any distress to that boy or his family, I apologise unreservedly.”

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