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Maybe you're just as tired of hearing about fundamentalists banning Harry Potter as you are about hearing Harry's name in the first place but I just had to throw my two cents in. In the name of "know thine enemy" I took a look at the Muggles for Harry Potter website. On that site you can find links to essays about why Harry Potter should be banned (the purpose of the MFHP site being to try to stop this kind of censorship). I don't get past two paragraphs of the first essay before I read:

Hidden in the slickly written and so called "rollicking good reading" pages of the Harry Potter books is a very dangerous main theme. Harry... a nerdy, family-less, abused, unhappy, 11 year old kid discovers he is actually a powerful wizard and leaves his adoptive home to attend a school of witchcraft and wizardry. Here he finds new life, success, friendship and that he has great powers (wizardry) within him that be can use to gain victory and respect in his life.

To suggest to any child (especially underprivileged ones like Harry) that there is a way to escape the unhappy, real-life world they live in and retreat into a mystical fantasy world to find happiness is totally irresponsible and deceitful.

Ok, ok, wait a minute here. Now when this was just a matter of "Harry Potter books mention magic and it is against our religion to even say the word magic" I was with them. I could grok this concept. I was of the opinion that if these people truly believed that it would harm their children's souls to even think about magic then they were well within their rights to ask that their kids not be exposed to the HP books. It was not, of course, in their rights to demand that all kids stop reading the books, but I could at least understand why they'd freak out about their own children.

But this? I'm sorry but isn't the concept of "escap[ing] the unhappy, real-life world and retreat[ing] into a mystical fantasy world to find happiness" a pasttime commonly known as READING?? Did I miss a memo here? Are they honestly saying that it is evil to encourage kids to use their imaginations? Do I really need to be snarky and point out that I'm not horrendously surprised to find out these people are terrified of encouraging children to have creative thought? I'm sorry but if this is one of your major beefs then we have to remove all fiction from your kids' lives - and I'm including those beloved Narnia chronicles too.

But, you know, it is more than that. Again they move past the concept of "It is bad for my kid to read this" and make it clear why it's bad for your kid to read it - specifically because as you all know the Harry Potter books promote Wicca.

Now how they manage to do that given the fact that - hang on, let me count - oh yeah, NONE of the Wiccan religion actually shows up in the book I'd be amazed to know. I guess the Sorting Hat whispers it into your kids' ears if they've got the Books On Tape version. I mean come on people! How stupid do you think kids are? There are DRAGONS in the book for Christ's sake! KIDS UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS FICTION.

Plus crack a book if you're going to slam a religion! I hate Fundamentalism but at least I do my time and make the Jack Chick website a regular stop on my Internet travels so I can keep up with the latest developments. Harry Potter has no "religious content". It has a lot of magical content, a lot of paranormal content, but not religious. Hell I don't even think JK Rowling has committed the characters to any sort of religious mindset - save the fact that Hogwarts does celebrate that "Pagan Holiday" of Christmas from time to time.

And then, as though my humor quotient for the day wasn't high enough, we get this essay: Harry Potter Takes Drugs

I'll wait a moment while those of you who have read the books stop laughing so hard.

Recovered? Ok, try this quote on for size. The author is talking about the Potions classes at Hogswarts:

...the Potions Master as he berates the students for their lack of knowledge of making drugs when adding "powered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood." This plant wormwood contains thujone, a hypnotic drug, which is banned by the FDA, and wormwood is used to make Absinthe, a hallucinogenic liqueur. Another record near the end of the book, portrays seven bottles containing drug potions: 3 contain poison, 2 contain wine and 2 contain a magic drug, which the children are to correctly chose from and drink in order to reach their goal - the sorcerer's stone, which they are seeking, before the effects of the drug wears off. pp. 286-287

The drug message in this book is clear. To reach your goals in life like Harry Potter you need to know how to make drugs and take drugs in just the right way or else you are a "dunderhead" and will never succeed.

Do these people even read for content or do they just skim books for some key words and then plug them into a standard "Censor This" boilerplate? The fact that this person thinks that Absinthe is still made causes me to believe that what we're actually reading is a tract originally published back in the 1800s which had key words removed and Harry Potter's name put in instead.

And as for Harry's "drug message", well it's there all right. But in the same way it is in life: Know the crucial difference between aspirin and rat poison or else you'll find out if Christ truly is your Savior a little faster than you'd anticipated. That's it. Again: read for content people! I mean saying Harry Potter promotes drug use is so wildly off the mark I'm not entirely sure they're not deliberately attempting to parody themselves.

But, as Judy Blume says the real danger here is not taking these people seriously. You and I can laugh at them but they're laughing all the way to the polls. There's a strong PC/conservative movement going on right now, particularly since it's so easy to tack on the infamous "after Columbine" mantra to a protest like this. So mock these guys all you want (in fact I encourage you) but do remember to put your two cents in when voting time comes around. Don't let these idiots decide that your tax money is best spent buying the lighter fluid to set Harry Potter books on fire.

[Ed note - not long after posting this I was told that absinthe is still made in some countries. It is illegal to make in America, however, and since I only know about the American protestors I still feel the comment is apt. But I appreciate the head's up of information though. =) ]

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