In a campaign full of outrageous and offensive comments, it didn't even seem possible for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to stoop any lower. But after The Washington Post leaked audio from 2005 in which Trump can be heard bragging about kissing and groping women without their consent, well, it turns out it he totally can. After the so-called "Trump tapes" came to light, most people were horrified — not just by his original comments, but also by the fact that he tried to explain them away as being "just words," and "locker room talk." J.K. Rowling's tweets about Trump's "locker room talk" are one of many examples of tweets expertly explaining exactly why Trump is so incredibly dangerous, and why his comments should still be incredibly concerning to all, even if he doesn't win the election on Nov. 8. Trump's campaign did not respond to Romper's request for comment regarding the tape.
British-born Rowling has made no secret of her dislike for Trump throughout the election campaign, and her Twitter feed has been full of thought-provoking and valuable remarks about the Republican nominee. But as Entertainment Weekly noted, her live-tweets during the second presidential debate Sunday were particularly on point. As Trump worked hard to deflect as much attention as possible away from his lewd commentary, Rowling tweeted, "Trump says 'just words, folks.' It's his accusation and his [defense]. Words don't matter. Facts don't matter. If they don't, we're all lost."
Since the audio first surfaced, Trump has used a variety of angles to attempt to excuse his behavior: that it's just how men talk when women aren't around, for example, or that it was so long ago that it's no longer relevant. According to The New York Times, he even claimed former-President Bill Clinton "has said far worse to [him] on the golf course," as though that explains anything, even if it were true. But as Rowling noted, Trump's assertion that we shouldn't take his comments about sexual assault seriously should really concern voters.
On the one hand, Trump has shown again and again that he really doesn't think his words matter all that much. According to The Guardian, Trump made a number of inaccurate or straight-up false statements during the debate, and that's certainly not a new trend. Like Rowling noted, Trump isn't big on precision and fact, but on emotional appeals that get viewers riled — whether they're true or not. And yet, what was one of his major criticisms of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the debate? That her policies, promises, and plans for the country were "just words, folks," and shouldn't be believed:
The hypocrisy in that comment is pretty astounding — Trump basically tried to invalidate everything Clinton said in one fell swoop while ignoring the fact that he's essentially built an entire presidential campaign on half-truths, hyperbole, and flat-out lies, likely with the understanding that many American voters are so frustrated with the political establishment that they don't even necessarily care about facts as much as they care about a rousing message. But as Rowling's tweet notes, this is a presidential election. Words matter. Facts matter. He is running for the country's top office.
Of course, the fact that he's been so quick to dismiss his comments about describing what is actually sexual assault (that is, grabbing women in a sexual way without their consent), is just as scary and problematic. In an earlier tweet, Rowling wrote, "The men rushing to tell us all that they talk about women exactly the way @realDonaldTrump did in his tape seem to think they're helping." And, as you can imagine, it set off a slew of replies pointing out just how misogynistic and toxic many Trump supporters' thinking really is:
Rowling also retweeted a number of other celebrities who chimed in on Trump's comments, all of whom also totally nailed the outrageous idea that somehow what he said shouldn't matter or be taken seriously:
Whether or not Trump actually becomes president, the fact that there are still people out there willing to defend that he's made these comments is further evidence that rape culture is alive and well in the United States — and, as we've already seen with the rise of openly racist and aggressive comments and behavior tied to his rallies and campaign in general (otherwise described as "Trumpism," according to Politico), the fact that he is giving this position a voice legitimizes it in a way that won't just magically disappear if he loses on Election Day.
Of course, the difficulty is that many Americans still do believe that Trump's words shouldn't be taken so seriously — or, at least, they've bought into the idea that Trump is still the "lesser of two evils," and plan on voting for him accordingly. But Rowling's message is still important, and is one that hopefully might help convince undecided voters that, when you are President of the United States, words don't only matter, they mean pretty much everything.