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September 2000


The Soap Box

by TarQness

Harry Potter Is Not Evil

Like most kids, mine are into the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. One of them is an avid reader and has been known to read anything with writing on it. For my other kid, reading is a constant struggle. Despite these contrasts, both go completely crazy every time I add to their collection of Harry Potter books. My daughter, the bookworm, finishes each new book within two days. My son, the less-than-avid reader, matches her enthusiasm but takes awhile longer to get through the books. I have only purchased the first three and have yet to come across the opportunity to obtain the brand new fourth book.

I have read the first book in the series just to get a feel for what the story is about. I finished it within two days, like my daughter. I couldn't put it down. The story itself was fascinating and the writing was captivating, to say the least. The author has a knack for imagery through writing and I can always appreciate that since I am easily distracted as it is.

My kids are also very much children of the 21st century. Computers, television and video games take up a great deal of their spare time. My daughter has a fondness for educational programs such as Jenny Jones, Maury, and Jerry Springer. Looking back, I now see that my son's name should have been either Mario or Luigi because he seems to have an unnatural affinity for his Nintendo game. I sincerely believe that he was the Pinball Wizard in his last life. So, as a somewhat old-fashioned parent, anything that will plant their noses into a book and actually get their minds working is very welcome to me.

So, ever since the Harry Potter books started gaining popularity, the "religious right" has started a controversy over the premise of them. They are complaining that the books are about witches, wizards, magic and witchcraft. They want these books banned from school libraries. I think that, once and for all, these people truly need to find a new hobby because this has got to be one of the dumbest things since the Jerry Falwell "Teletubbies" scandal that I have seen come out of the religious right.

I have many problems with the argument that the Harry Potter books are harmful to our children. I mean, I have to wonder how many of these ultraconservative mouth-foamers allow their children to read the Chronicles of Narnia. C.S. Lewis was a devout christian. Anyone who has read or seen The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe knows that these books involve magic, witches and witchcraft. I don't know of any religious types trying to ban that series of books from school libraries. In fact, when we were children, they were required reading.

Also, when I was a child, I read all kinds of fairytales. Cinderella has a fairy Godmother who performs magic and gets her a man. Snow White has a witch who tries to kill the heroine in the story, who ends up being brought back from the dead by a kiss (on the lips - from a MAN who isn't her husband!), of all things. Now, I thought that, according to the teachings of Christianity, Jesus and Lazarus were the only people who have ever come back from the dead. Sleeping Beauty went pretty much the same way. All of those fairytales were loaded with secular, even pagan principles. Yet I have seen fundamentalist Christian after fundamentalist Christian who encourage their children to read them, but won't allow them to read the Harry Potter books because of the witchcraft. I fail to see where the type of magic or even the amount of it is different between them. This makes the religious right seem even more hypocritical than I had originally thought.

Then there were Nursery Rhymes. Most of them encouraged child abuse, wife beating, death (really nasty deaths, too) and just generally disturbing visuals. Take, for instance, an old favorite titled Little Polly Flinders:

Little Polly Flinders
Sat among the cinders
Warming her pretty little toes

Her mother came and caught her
And whipped her little daughter
For ruining her nice new clothes

The HELL? This is OK for our children to read, but books about a school for witches and wizards is not?

Like I said, I think that the religious right needs a generous pimp-slap. There are far more immediate threats to our children today than whether or not they are allowed to use their imaginations. Harry Potter isn't going to be anything but a benefit to our children. My kids read the books and still have no desire to worship Satan, so I think that they are in the clear.

Encourage your children to read. If they have minds of their own and if you have raised them to understand the concept of fantasy versus reality AND right and wrong, a little witchcraft on the brain won't make them go out and sacrifice baby kittens to Ba'al. I could pretty much guarantee that.

It's clear and sunny today in Yamhill, OR. All 40 residents are pleased.