Friday, October 06, 2006

Banning Harry Potter............Again

Well, here we go again. Another mom has decided that Harry Potter should be banned from school calling it "evil" and saying it promotes witchcraft. *sigh* Witchcraft or fantasy? Education officer hears about Harry Potter As someone who has always loved fantasy it bugs me to no end that fundamentalist religion so often seeks to repress books like Harry Potter claiming that books like this promote violence. The woman who is bringing the suit to ban the books, Laura Mallory, tries to draw the conclusion that books like the Harry Potter series corrupt children and lead to things like school shootings. She also claims that these kinds of things wouldn't happen if children instead read the bible. Huh? Lets take a closer look at this shall we? Without even getting into the issue of all the violence throughout history in the name of religion, it's all to easy to dispute her arguments. First off, I have never heard of a school shooting where the attacker claimed Harry Potter was an influence. Not once. I've heard of school shooters who played violent video games, who had abusive upbringings and even those who came from severely strict households. I don't think it's possible to point the finger at one particular cause of violence in schools, but trying to blame Harry Potter is a stretch at best. The most popular argument for banning Harry Potter usually centers around witchcraft. Mallory says that Harry Potter is "evil" and that it attempts to indoctrinate children in the "evil" religion of Wicca. I actually have some personal experience here. I have a family member who considers herself a practicing Wiccan, and I guarantee that she'd be mightily offended at hearing Wicca called evil. It's easy for people like Mallory to claim something like Wicca is evil since they really don't know anything about it. From my limited understanding Wicca is more about the worship of nature than anything else. Trying to draw any Satanic connotations is misleading and harmful in my opinion. But mostly, I think the damage comes from trying to keep children from an enjoyable story. I love Harry Potter because it gets kids to read. You will never convince me that Harry Potter is anything but a positive influence on children. The stories do not teach children to commit evil acts. In fact the books have very positive messages about friendship and doing the right thing. I can only assume that Mallory hasn't read the books. She probably wouldn't because she'd be too offended by the theme of wizardry. I remember when I was younger and worked at a movie theatre, we were getting all kinds of protests against the movie "The Last Temptation of Christ" before it was released. The church goers were protesting a movie they had not seen, nor would ever likely view. How can you protest something when you don't really know what it's about? But we see this all the time. Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ" was widely protested as anti-Semitic before it was released. I don't have a problem with people feeling that way about the movie, I'm simply suggesting that you view it first, then draw your conclusions. Also, the issue of censorship comes into play. I don't believe in censorship at all, after all, who gets to decide what's appropriate? I get that we have to keep certain materials away from our kids. I would never suggest porn or anything of that nature ever be accessible to kids. But shouldn't we base what's appropriate for our children on things such as profanity and violence, not some spurious and inaccurate connection to Satanism? And if we're to go a little further, if there is supposed to be a separation between church and state, does the church have any business getting involved in what books should be allowed in school? The creationism vs. evolution debate has been huge in the school system, with evolution generally being the winner. So why now is the religious right allowed to sometimes succeed in pulling these books from school shelves? I wish I had an answer, then maybe there would be a way to put an end to such nonsense. At the end of the day though, the only people who should be concerned about what kids read are the parents. It is the parent's job to monitor what music, TV and books the kids are exposed to. I really don't want someone like Mallory telling me what my kids should read. I do think I am capable of making these decisions myself, thank you very much.

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