Thursday, June 25, 2009

Banned, Censored, Challenged: Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone

Created by J.K Rowling, this series of books about a boy-wizard has gained international fame. Millions of kids have been drawn to books by reading Potter, much to the joy of literacy advocates the world over. So, why ban it?

Some people point to scriptures in the Bible that forbid the use of magic and claim that Rowling's books promote witchcraft. Although the Bible probably wasn't talking about flying cars and broomsticks, some have demanded the removal of Harry Potter from schools. Harry Potter books have even been literally burned. Often, people forbid these books without having read them, or skim through looking for "evil" bits to take out of context.

For one example, ChristianAnswers.Net says this about the "troubling" lightning bolt scar on Harry Potter's forehead
"his marking causes some concern, as the lightning bolt, in mythology, is known as Thor's calling card (the god of thunder, rain and fertility), later used by Hitler's Nazi party in the form of two crossing lightning bolts"
The Nazi swastika used by Hitler was not two crossed lightning bolts, but an ancient symbol that dates far back in human history and one of those ubiquitous shapes used in ancient cultures. Harry Potter's bolt has nothing to do with the swastika and the symbol itself was benign until Hitler hijacked it for his purposes.

Others fall back on the assertion that the books are too gory. Of course, the image of a man being beaten with a cat o'nine, nailed onto a wooden cross, and stabbed with a spear is shown to children who are too young to even speak but the hypocrisy is lost on the anti-Potters. Most children aren't at all bothered by the mild violence in the Harry Potter books and if a child does have trouble, that doesn't mean one should ban the book from all children.

Consider Glinda the Good Witch, who was first depicted by Frank Baum as a beautiful red head with blue eyes and a pure white dress. In the classic, unforgettable 1939 film starring Judy Garland, Glinda is even more appealing. If Glinda isn't advertisement for witchcraft, then what is?

What about Gandalf from
The Lord of the Rings? Or Merlin from the King Arthur myths?These characters are not new, in fact Merlin's been around for ages- literally.Why haven't fans of these older wizards turned into devil worshiping, blood drinking, fornicating pagans?

An additional argument claims that Wicca is a religion and that Harry Potter books violate separation of church and state. However, Wicca is a nature based religion that involves the worship of a God and Goddess. They don't worship Satan & don't believe in Satan, as he is a Christian construct. "Magic" to a Wiccan is not yelling "Avada Kedavra!" or "Expelliarmus!" but really the "channeling of energy" and magical thinking.

14 comments:

Miss_Nobody said...

WHO are they kiddng?Banning harry potter?.Jk rowling is an AMAZING author.

Mardel said...

Do you remember when Goosebumps first came out? People either hated it or loved it. Mostly teachers loved it, because suddenly, kids who weren't interested in reading before, suddenly wanted to collect and read Goosebump books (R.L. Stine). Same with Harry Potter. When Harry Potter first came out 7 years ago, people tried to ban it. When the movies came out - same thing. But teachers loved the series because, once again, kids were intersted in reading the series. The kids loved the stories and they engaged their imagination. Once again, a whole new group of kids were introduced to the joys of reading. People need to use their energy on other things, like making sure their own children to join gangs, treat people with disrespect, etc. Man, there's so many awful things children could be doing, I would rather they sit and read books about magic. Underlying the magic issues in these books are lessons in selfworth, respect of others, and growing up.

Glynis said...

Oh boy it just gets better! I feel sorry for the children, of the adults who campaign for these books to be banned.

Guest said...

I've never read the Harry Potter books because we were taught that they were um... evil. Now I'm very curious about them and will probably read one now!

Jessica (BookLover) said...

What a great post! Come over to my blog and pick up your award!

http://www.abookloversdiary.blogspot.com/

Sharazad said...

The commenter "Guest" is my sister, btw, so that's why I'm just discovering Potter. I was taught they were evil- oddly enough, they're the only books my mother ever kept from me...

Mardel, I sure do remember Goosebumps. I read a lot of them and owned a few, too. Ever notice how anything popular with kids comes under fire from a certain group of people? (Where's Waldo, Teletubbies, Pokemon, Harry Potter and I bet Twilight is next)
Challenging something that is hugely popular makes people feel special. Sometimes, people mistake dissent for insightfulness.

And thank you Jessica for your generous gift- you're too kind...

Yvette Kelly said...

Oh for the love of all that is good.Why don't those people go volunteer at shelters instead of campaigning for banning of Harry Potter books?Seriously now...

Claire H said...

Oh wake up and smell the extra money rolling in! This is probably set up by the publishers or associates, have you never noticed how things grew in popularity when they are banned or threatened to be.

Bookpusher said...

Love Yvette's comment. JK is a gift to literacy. Azkaban was my favourite HP novel, so you have something to look forward to, one of my favourite characters first appears in that one, love Remus Lupin also find Snape fascinating. Happy reading.

Sharazad said...

Things grow in popularity when they are banned because people are curious. It is not a conspiracy by the publisher- as I said before, my own parents believe that Harry Potter teaches witchcraft and the occult. There are many books and documentaries claiming to expose "witchcraft" Prominent preachers and televangelists publicly condemned the books and they did so *because* the books are popular.

Taschima said...

Hello, I just made a post about my favorite series ever, which is HP.

And then I look at this, and I am ashamed of people. The Bible is basically the more varied fiction book ever. Sex, violence, and quite possibly drugs are on those pages, but they want to ban HP books for a little bit of magic?

Can you spell hypocrisy?

Although I have my problems with J.K. Rowling, mainly being that she has not written anything besides HP, I think she was a great add to literature everywhere. We should be happy she even put her pencil on the paper and started writing.

Go and see my last post at my blog...

www.bloodybookaholic.blogspot.com

Angie said...

What an interesting entry. I've never actually gotten around to reading Harry Potter but I've always meant to.

amy said...

That is a coincidence! Aren't they great? I'm so sad to have finished them...
I didn't know this was a banned book..Well, my dad banned me from reading it b/c of supposed "witchcraft" (not that I believe it or that I'm going to start doing voo doo) but....
-amy

Guest said...

Well, it IS witchcraft, whether you believe in the bible or not, the bible's words don't seem to read well about witchcraft. There's your reason.