Harry Potter and the Half-Brain Princess

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An effort to strip Harry Potter books from the shelves of Gwinnett County, Georgia schools has been defeated.

The board members voted without discussion to back the Gwinnett County school board's decision to deny Laura Mallory's request to remove the best-selling books.

Mallory, who has three children in elementary school, has worked for more than a year to ban the books from Gwinnett schools, claiming the popular fiction series is an attempt to indoctrinate children in witchcraft.

"It's mainstreaming witchcraft in a subtle and deceptive manner, in a children-friendly format," said Mallory, who is considering a legal challenge of the board's ruling. "The kind of stuff in these books — murder and greed and violence. Why do they have to read them in school?"

I offer up my semi-serious immigration solution of yore; let's let in the Oaxaca fruit pickers and kick out these idiots.

Two years back, Dave Kopel reviewed the third Harry Potter flick for Reason.

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  1. The difference is that Oaxaca fruit pickers have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, whereas Ms. Mallory obviously does not have enough real stuff to worry about. Prosperity does have its drawbacks.

  2. This lady wanted to ban a 734 page book with no pictures that preteens actually want to read. How inane. Die in a goblet of fire.

  3. “The kind of stuff in these books – murder and greed and violence. Why do they have to read them in school?”

    I wonder if she would have the same critique of kids reading the Bible in school?

  4. Or fairy tales, for that matter.

  5. Yeah, my 1970s Catholic education never exposed me to Murder, Greed, or Violence…
    Just squeaky clean authors like Steinbeck, Hemingway, Faulkner, Hawthorne, etc.

  6. someone must have put a piss spell in her cheerios.

  7. let’s let in the Oaxaca fruit pickers and kick out these idiots.
    That is nowhere near a fair trade. We would have to give the fruit pickers a moving allowance or something.

  8. Mallory, who has three children in elementary school, has worked for more than a year to ban the books from Gwinnett schools, claiming the popular fiction series is an attempt to indoctrinate children in witchcraft.

    Why doesn’t she do what every other highly religious, dissatisfied parent does?

    Home school.

    She can teach her kids while locking them under the stairs, locking them in their bedrooms and ridiculing them in front of company…you know, like any good muggle.

  9. “I wonder if she would have the same critique of kids reading the Bible in school?”

    I live in Atlanta and watched (yet another) interview with this woman today. In fact, she complained that the Bible isn’t allowed in the library. She is arguing that the Harry Potter books teach Wiccanism (?) so the Bible should be present, to teach Christianity.

    Cracker’s Boy

  10. cracker’s boy,

    I think they should allow her to put the bible on book shelves, right next to harry potter, under fiction.

  11. Now that was funny.

  12. My sister is one of those Harry Potter haters. It’s witchcraft and her kid isn’t allowed to see, read, or speak Harry Potter. Of course, he still gets to dress up for Halloween and collect candy. How she reconciles the two I don’t know.

    How can anyone not like Harry Potter? Unlike Judy Blume’s books, there’s no sex. That’s a biggie for parents of pre-teens and adolescents. Harry’s a nice guy, his friends are good people, they fight evil and usually win, and the world they live in is fascinating. Plus, the books are written in such a way that parents and kids can both enjoy them. We’ve read all of them to our kids from day one. Talk about quality family time. Here it is.

    On top of that, Harry Potter inspired my son, who is mildly dyslexic, to work hard on his reading skills because he wanted to read the books.

    Where is the downside in all this?

  13. I wonder if that library has the Wizard of Oz? My relatives will not let their kids read Harry Potter because of the witchcraft, but “The Wizard of Oz” is one of their favorite movies.

  14. I’ll be happy when both books are in the reminder bin.

  15. Where is the downside in all this?

    Hell if I know, man.

  16. More offensive than whatever witchcraft is involved in the Harry Potter series is the idea that it’s okay for one group to look down upon another (“the muggles”) because of their inherent differences.

  17. My 10 year old daugher read the first book last spring, then read books 2,3 & 4 over the summer and is almost finished with the fifth Harry Potter book now.

    I read them all before her and thoroughly enjoyed them all. BTW, besides being a libertarian, I’m also a evangelical, pentecostal, bible reading Christian. Just like when I read the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and the Narnia books to her, we have discussions about the situations, plot and themes presented in each book.

    I have no objection to fantasy as long as it is presented as such. J. K. Rowling has written nothing that would inspire devil worship.

  18. Just when I start to think that people can’t get any stupider, this happens. I’m tired of morons.

  19. How can anyone not like Harry Potter?

    Because the writing is mediocre and the ideas are derivative?

    (Which is okay for kids, but why do so many adults read it?)

  20. The problem is not this woman- the problem is that we have any public schools at all.

    Privatize them immediately!

  21. I would have liked the Harry Potter movie a lot better if the giant three-headed dog had eaten that incredibly annoying little girl.

  22. NoStar,

    As an “evangelical, pentecostal, bible reading Christian”, surely you realize how little you represent the majority of folks who fit that description.

    As a fellow Christian (former pentacostal, current bible-reading, and ‘just plain Christian’), I applaud your uncommon good sense and I wish it was a lot less uncommon.

  23. This was probably what caused her to go nuts:

    http://www.snopes.com/humor/iftrue/potter.htm

    To think that some people actually believe the onion…

  24. I live in Atlanta and watched (yet another) interview with this woman today. In fact, she complained that the Bible isn’t allowed in the library. She is arguing that the Harry Potter books teach Wiccanism (?) so the Bible should be present, to teach Christianity.

    Those who have bothered to actually read the bible know that there’s plenty of witchcraft in there too. In addition to the aforementioned “murder and greed and violence” (Moses and Pharaoh’s magicians duking it out come to mind.)

  25. Ooops, I meant, Too Bad Dan T didn’t RTFB.

  26. Al, you are now on my Christmas Card List.

    We all too often forgot the basic tenets of our philosophy. And you’re right, this is one more argument for the abolition of public education.

  27. Well, actually, she has a point. If you’re going to bitch about censorship in the public school library I’d have to ask why the Bible isn’t in the library.

  28. I agree TWC, and I think more people should read the bible. Many people who hold it up as an icon don’t seem to know what’s actually on the pages.

  29. madpad,
    I’m used to being in a minority. In fact, when I find my opinions to be a majority view, I begin to question myself. I have little faith in public opinion and “common” sense.

  30. If only the magic in the books worked! I could use a man like Voldemort.

  31. What, no literary critique or “J.K. Rowling: Deconstructing Harry Potter” post from Alan Vanneman?

  32. Oh Wendi, I wish they would ban Wizard of Oz. Not the book, which I have not read, but that horrifying movie. Unlike every other child on earth I hated that movie. It scared me into weeks of nightmares. To this day I will not watch that movie, which seems to be broadcast on TV more than any other movie ever made except maybe that one with Jimmy Stewart that’s on during the holidays.

  33. The woman clearly needs a good tongue lashing. A break from the missionary position in recreational sex can really take the edge off.

  34. “Where is the downside in all this?”

    You’ll find out when he turns you into a centipede!

  35. TWC,
    I know several people, including myself, who agree with you on the Oz movie.

  36. Republicans for Voldemort!

  37. “Republicans for Voldemort!”

    He’s already the VP. Do you really think he has a chance to be elected president?

  38. I’ve read none of the Harry Potter books, mainly because I read the complete Books of Magic series started by Neil Gaiman about young bespectacled Tim Hunter who learns how to be the world’s greatest sorcerer with help from his owl.
    And a drunk John Constantine shows up a lot.

    And while we’re at it, the idea of ripping off Holy Blood Holy Grail as a global conspiracy was done in Preacher (recently picked up by HBO) long before DaVinci Code.

    Now excuse me, gotta get back to my comics.

  39. How can anyone not like Harry Potter?

    Because the writing is mediocre and the ideas are derivative?

    The first Harry Potter book was dreck, and I can only assume that the rest are just as bad.

  40. Jeff, its been a long time since i read Books of Magic, but aren’t the similarities fairly superficial?

  41. TWC- I feel the same way about Poltergeist. I still won’t sleep with the closet door open, and I’m 32 freaking years old.

  42. Zoidburg: As I said, I didn’t read Potter. By a kid with glasses and a mystical pet owl having to cope with great forces beyond his control while trying to deal with being a teenager (with numerous parallels drawn between the two) sounds more like a central theme more than a superficiality.
    Tim Hunter also went to The Hidden School.

    If someone wrote a kids series where a spit-curled kid is sent to Earth by his alien parents when his planet blows up and he decides to use his new found powers for good, fewer folks would be so forgiving.

  43. Ahem: “BUT a kid with glasses…”

  44. Eddy, you mean there’s two of us? My kids think I’m a nutcase, but Oz is banned in this house.

    Six, Poltergeist was pretty good but the one that freaked my kids was The Bruce Willis one. My son had only one nightmare in his life until the night we let him watch 6th Sense. House Blond was spooked for a week. Course, she was only 7 at the time.

  45. The first Harry Potter book was dreck, and I can only assume that the rest are just as bad.

    Personal preferences shape how we look at things. After all, Alec Guinness thought Star Wars was the worst screen play he’d ever read.

  46. Harry Potter! Ha! Don’t let her hear about Terry Pratchett. Sure, he writes for adults, but, much to my surprise, Small Gods was enjoyed by my early-teens cousin a whole lot more than Potter series…

  47. Terry Pratchett rocks!

  48. After all, Alec Guinness thought Star Wars was the worst screen play he’d ever read.

    He was right. Listen to the dialogue without watching the action.

  49. One more Pratchett comment:

    Every journalist should read The Truth (if only just for fun).

  50. ChrisO, actually, I guess you’re right.

  51. “I think they should allow her to put the bible on book shelves, right next to harry potter, under fiction.”

    That would require a rewriting of the Dewey Decimel System, which is generally used by librarians. One of the key “anti-censorship” arguments is that we must defer to the expertise of librarians, not make up our own standards of what goes in a library.

    So here is how the Dewey System classifies religious materials (which go in the 200s section):

    200 Religion
    201 Philosophy of Christianity
    202 Miscellany of Christianity
    203 Dictionaries of Christianity
    204 Special topics
    205 Serial publications of Christianity
    206 Organizations of Christianity
    207 Education, research in Christianity
    208 Kinds of persons in Christianity
    209 History & geography of Christianity
    210 Natural theology
    211 Concepts of God
    212 Existence, attributes of God
    213 Creation
    214 Theodicy
    215 Science & religion
    216 Good & evil
    217 Not assigned or no longer used
    218 Humankind
    219 Not assigned or no longer used
    220 Bible
    221 Old Testament
    222 Historical books of Old Testament
    223 Poetic books of Old Testament
    224 Prophetic books of Old Testament
    225 New Testament
    226 Gospels & Acts
    227 Epistles
    228 Revelation (Apocalypse)
    229 Apocrypha & pseudepigrapha
    230 Christian theology
    231 God
    232 Jesus Christ & his family
    233 Humankind
    234 Salvation (Soteriology) & grace
    235 Spiritual beings
    236 Eschatology
    237 Not assigned or no longer used
    238 Creeds & catechisms
    239 Apologetics & polemics
    240 Christian moral & devotional theology
    241 Moral theology
    242 Devotional literature
    243 Evangelistic writings for individuals
    244 Not assigned or no longer used
    245 Texts of hymns
    246 Use of art in Christianity
    247 Church furnishings & articles
    248 Christian experience, practice, life
    249 Christian observances in family life
    250 Christian orders & local church
    251 Preaching (Homiletics)
    252 Texts of sermons
    253 Pastoral office (Pastoral theology)
    254 Parish government & administration
    255 Religious congregations & orders
    256 Not assigned or no longer used
    257 Not assigned or no longer used
    258 Not assigned or no longer used
    259 Activities of the local church
    260 Christian social theology
    261 Social theology
    262 Ecclesiology
    263 Times, places of religious observance
    264 Public worship
    265 Sacraments, other rites & acts
    266 Missions
    267 Associations for religious work
    268 Religious education
    269 Spiritual renewal
    270 Christian church history
    271 Religious orders in church history
    272 Persecutions in church history
    273 Heresies in church history
    274 Christian church in Europe
    275 Christian church in Asia
    276 Christian church in Africa
    277 Christian church in North America
    278 Christian church in South America
    279 Christian church in other areas
    280 Christian denominations & sects
    281 Early church & Eastern churches
    282 Roman Catholic Church
    283 Anglican churches
    284 Protestants of Continental origin
    285 Presbyterian, Reformed, Congregational
    286 Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Adventist
    287 Methodist & related churches
    288 Not assigned or no longer used
    289 Other denominations & sects
    290 Other & comparative religions
    291 Comparative religion
    292 Classical (Greek & Roman) religion
    293 Germanic religion
    294 Religions of Indic origin
    295 Zoroastrianism (Mazdaism, Parseeism)
    296 Judaism
    297 Islam & religions originating in it
    298 Not assigned or no longer used
    299 Other religions

  52. I was an English major in college (with a writing emphasis), and I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoyed all of the books immensely. I swear, people, you are so pretentious sometimes. If anything’s popular, then it must suck, right? So what if it’s not the best writing in the world? It was still fun to read. Just picturing Quidditch in my head was a hoot.

    Not everything has to be a masterpiece, highbrow, or even unique to be entertaining.

  53. my fave quote from mike’s link

    “If not, how about a quote from High Priest of Satanism: “Harry is an absolute god send to our cause,” said High Priest Egan of the First Church Of Satan in Salem, MA. “An organization like ours thrives on new blood (no pun intended) and we’ve had more applicants than we can handle lately. And, of course, practically all of them are virgins, which is gravy.”

    (Since 1995, open applicants to Satan worship has increased from around 100,000 to now . . . 20 MILLION children and young adults!)

    It makes me physically ill, people! ”

    20 million! thats a bandwagon i gotta get on

  54. I’m sincerely surprised that the bible isn’t in the school library

  55. Seriously, is there any book worth reading that doesn’t have murder, greed, or violence in it?

    NoStar and madpad,

    There have to be more of us out here. I’m not Pentecostal, but definitely a conventional Christian, and thoroughly disgusted by idiots like this one. One of these days I’m going to write a book about how Him Who created the world using the Word and taught using parables hates those who silence good stories more than anything else. (I’m reading A Christmas Carol to my sons right now, so I’m more inclined to florid language than usual. Which story, by the way, also features ghosts. Don’t tell this idiot.) Honestly, I’m sure she’s read those blights the Left Behind books. They have all the bad stuff in Harry Potter without the redeeming quality of actually being good. I found plenty of Christian elements in Harry Potter. Then again, I have read other good books in my life. Ones not sold in the grocery store checkout line. (Yeah, that’s not at all Christian. At the moment I don’t care very much.)

  56. Karen

    “Principia Mathematica” by Isaac Newton. [Not that I’ve read it. I’m too busy with all those books that have sex, greed & violence.]

  57. Mike

    “To think that some people actually believe the onion…”

    Er, um, ah, hate to break it to you Mike, but some people actually believe the CBC and the New York Times.

  58. “‘Principia Mathematica’ by Isaac Newton. [Not that I’ve read it. I’m too busy with all those books that have sex, greed & violence.]”

    You must have read the *expurgated* principia mathematica. The one without the sine curve.

  59. wow, look at that anti-christian bias in the dewey decimal system. they only get number 200 through 290!

  60. “wow, look at that anti-christian bias in the dewey decimal system. they only get number 200 through 290!”

    And yet, somehow, though most of the 200s are supposed to be taken up with Christian-themed material, the library supposedly can’t find room for a single Bible. The tension is *not* between librarians’ professional standards and fundamentalist hordes — the usual way such disputes are phrased — but between librarians’ professional standards and their actual behavior.

    And we’re supposed to focus our attention at a lone crusader’s quixotic attempt to take Harry Potter out of the library.

    “Oh, it was horrible! Some parent protested the Harry Potter Books. Although the school board voted to support us, the fear inspired by this incident continues to wake me up in the middle of the night!”

  61. Incidentally, I still think many librarians are hot, as well as hot and bothered.

  62. I looked up what I think is her school, Magill Elementary. I couldn’t find a catalog for their “media center,” but I found a 98-page “Accelerated reader test list by title,” which had about 6,000 items:

    http://jcmagill.org/class_sites/Michalowski/artitle.doc

    They had several Harry Potters, but nothing under “Bible,” “Holy Bible” or “Stories from the Bible.”

  63. Well truly private school sovles the problem.

    Other than that yeah the school should have the bible. I mean, I have never read the bible, and likely never will.

    But I think that forbidding the bible is a big deal and forbidding Harry Potter is not.

  64. I had this debate when reading the first Harry Potter book: “Hmmm, seems someone’s been stealing from the Roald Dahl vault.” Then again, I suppose all of literature is derivative of some other literature to some degree. At what point does it stop looking like stealing and start looking like ‘mildly influenced by’?

  65. At what point does it stop looking like stealing and start looking like ‘mildly influenced by’?

    That’s a good question. To me, it depends on how many original ideas are mixed in with the unoriginal ones. Personally, I don’t think there are any original ideas in Harry Potter at all, which wouldn’t bother me if I enjoyed her writing.

  66. The HP books were a fun, light, moderately diverting read. Some surprisingly libertarian themes (dangers of secret governments, government interference in schools, the obvious fundamental need for self-defense (from Hermione no less) ) but mostly it was the mental equivalent of a long, hot bath. Relaxing rather than productive.

    If I worried about whether my reading was ‘mediocre, derivative crap’, I’d never read the comments section at Reason either (which are also fun, light, and moderately diverting )

    Jake
    (who read much of HP in a long, hot bath, and so greatly increased is relaxation efficiency factor 😉

  67. Sixty-eight comments up to the minute, and only two even attempted the point in all this that I just blogged.

    On a “libertarian” website.

    Pretty deep thinkers, you guys are. No kiddin’. This place is terrific.

  68. “Sixty-eight comments up to the minute, and only two even attempted the point in all this that I just blogged.

    On a “libertarian” website.”

    Billy,
    Maybe it’s that it’s just a little too obvious the lady is a total nutbar. I don’t think it’s likely too many libertarians are going to look at something like this and think, “hmmm, now maybe there’s another way to look at this” in the same way that intellectual property rights or libel law could stir debate. It would be like a Christian saying, “hmmm, you know, maybe Satan’s got a point.”

  69. “If I worried about whether my reading was ‘mediocre, derivative crap’, I’d never read the comments section at Reason either (which are also fun, light, and moderately diverting )”

    Ouch!

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