The U.K.'s exit from the European Union encountered a legal roadblock this week when the High Court ruled that the British parliament's approval was required before Brexit can begin. The ruling was a setback for "leave" politicians, including Prime Minister Theresa May, though it is not likely to revoke British voters' decision to leave the EU. But its news ruffled some feathers, not least the Daily Mail tabloid, which published a story on its website about the three judges behind the ruling.
According to screenshots from various Twitter users, the online article's headline read: "The judges who blocked Brexit: One founded a EUROPEAN law group, another charged the taxpayers millions for advice and third is an openly gay ex-Olympic fencer." Taken as a whole, the headline seemed to imply that being an openly gay ex-Olympic fencer was somehow relevant to his ruling on the case. (It bears noting that this headline on Daily Mail's site is currently different, though the screenshots from Nov. 3 when it was published indicate it had been changed.)
Others who weighed in on the controversy expressed confusion and outrage. Enter J.K. Rowling, ever-ready with a witty comment, who effectively neutralized whatever insult the headline intended with her response.
"If the worst they can say about you is you're an OPENLY GAY EX-OLYMPIC FENCER TOP JUDGE," she tweeted, "you've basically won life."
Rowling's tweet received an outpour of praise. The Harry Potter author was vocally opposed to Brexit, and like many others, was taken aback by the referendum's result. Often cast as a dangerous result of rising xenophobia and racism in the U.K., Brexit seemed like a cautionary tale for its neighbors across the Atlantic who have similarly witnessed the normalization of bigotry during its election season.
But if America does end up voting against it self-interest, trust Rowling to be ready with the clever, though often all-too-real comebacks.
Cover image via Executive Office of the President.