No Such Nonsense

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Harry Potter and the Burning of Books

Holden Caulfield, Atticus Finch, Huck Finn, Lady Chatterley, Harry Potter. Banned, baby, banned.

People have tried to ban books almost since the invention of the written word. Concerned parents have long targeted Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Lady Chatterley's Lover. The sins of these books? Profanity, sexuality, rebellion - you name it. Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl has been challenged due, unbelievably, to sexual content. Forget 1984, Brave New World and Slaughterhouse Five - violence, sex, communism, completely unacceptable! Even Judy Bloom and Robert Munsch have seen their books banned.

And, now, sadly, dear Harry Potter.

A suburban mom from Georgia has asked her school board to ban all the Harry Potter books from its schools. According to The Star, one "Laura Mallory, a mother of four, told a hearing officer for the Gwinnett County Board of Education on Tuesday that the popular fiction series is an 'evil' attempt to indoctrinate children in the Wicca religion."


It isn't the first attempt on Harry's life, and it won't be the last, but, man does it raise my hackles. This chick wants to take the Harry, Hermione and Ron away. Not just from her kids, mind you. From the whole neighbourhood. From your kids. And she thinks that it is the school board's job to do so. Even assuming the books do promote Wicca - who wouldn't want to play Quiddich and sic a Dementor on their cousin? - Ms. Mallory's request to ban them is still disturbing. It's not the just the idea of banning a book that bothers me - it's the idea of banning these ones that drives me nuts. The thing is, the Harry Potter books are phenomenonon. They actually get kids - boys especially to read. Boys, READING!! And some parents actually relish the opportunity, reading the books with their kids. And more than just getting kids reading, the books actually have important messages about friendship, trust, believing in yourself, loyalty and courage. Reading expands the mind, creating thoughtful people who question and grow. Maybe Ms. Malloy is right; that's some dangerous stuff.


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