Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall, Mr. Potter, Censorship, and Helicopter Parents

It's FALL! My favorite time of the year (despite my allergies) is finally, officially, here. Now, this being Texas, Fall won't actually be here for a few more weeks. I won't let that get me down.

Ready? Fall Picture Extravaganza!!

I would like to dedicate the rest of this post to Banned Books Week. I know it was last week, but I was unable to post last week due to all of my professors getting together and coming up with a diabolical plan to make me kill myself (A.k.a. I had four tests). Anyways, I would still like to air my two cents on the matter to the Interwebs.

WARNING: I might get a little rambling at times

I was struck this summer by the controversy stirred up by the Premiere of the final Harry Potter movie. In the small world of my childhood, I failed to see how anybody could object to the content of such a wonderful book. and as I grew and matured, I came to believe that those original opponents of the Harry Potter Series had faded to oblivion. The parental outcry that the media showed us in the early days of the Pottermania was no longer interesting. When I cared to consider the folks who would forbid their children from reading the books, I pretty much lumped them in the same category of crazy as the Pastor from Footloose, but slightly above the Westboro Baptist Church folks.

You know the type. I mean, let's be reasonable people! Unless you have incredibly successfully sheltered your child from all experience of the real world, reading Harry Potter is not going to turn your child into the next great satanic cult leader. And even if you have been that successful, it still probably won't. As such, I'm going to pretend that argument doesn't exist, was never used by anybody, and I am just going to pray that nobody who is reading this blog uses this argument to rationalize forbidding the Harry Potter books. No, I am going to focus on the only other argument against Harry Potter that I have ever heard: that the morality of the stories is suspect, and that it can encourage kids to misbehave.

I am not going to expound on this argument too much either, if you want to know what others think you can search out their writings on the subject. What i will do is offer my opinion; I am not an expert, so it is all I can give. Now, let me begin. I will admit that often the ends are used to justify otherwise distasteful means. The best example of this is the killing of Voldemort. Yes, in a perfect world Harry would charitably spare Voldy's life and Voldy would have a total change of heart and the two would be best friends from then on out. In a slightly less perfect world, Harry and the Order would find a way to incapacitate Voldy in such a way as to render him harmless without killing him. But Harry is not given a perfect world. Harry is given a world in which he must face pure evil. And he defeats pure evil through courage, loyalty, friendship, LOVE, and self-sacrifice. Boy, he sounds like a terribly morally corrupt young man. It s also true that Harry and the gang regularly break the rules and that Snape, McGonagall, and the rest of the Hogwarts Authority figures are often seen as obstructing their mission. But let me remind you of some things. In Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, Tom lies to, and disobeys, Aunt Polly, deceives and embezzles his peers, runs away from home, etc. and Tom Sawyer is considered an American Literary Classic. In fact, in almost every great tale of good-vs-evil, Good seeks to destroy Evil. Not just to defeat it, no, to destroy it. St. George did not seek to go out and make peace with the dragon, he sought to kill it. Gandalf fought and killed the Balrog, sacrificing his own life in the process, he did not try to make it a Christian. The examples are myriad.

I know that I am rambling a bit, but I hope that you have understood my point. Arguing that Harry Potter will leave your child morally corrupt while allowing them to read, or watch, other fantasy stories with the same themes is, in my mind, intellectually dishonest. In the long run, Harry Potter's worth is firmly established in our culture now by virtue of the great many people who discovered a deep love of reading through those books. Its stock may diminish over the years, after all it is unfair to even attempt to compare it to the LOTR or Chronicles of Narnia Series. But I have yet to meet a Satanist who was first influenced by Harry Potter, and have met many, many people who first fell in live with literature through Mr. Potter. If you take the time to read it with or to your younger children, explaining its failings where need be, I can personally guarantee that it will not cause your children to grow up into monsters. You can quote me on that.

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