Friday, May 22, 2009

Harry Potter And The Muggle Struggle Part Two: The Opposition

Here we go again! I wanted to briefly explain that I will be referencing the quotes and research I did for the paper along the way, with my Works Cited page at the end, because plagiarizing ain't my cup of tea. For any who may not be familiar with what that looks like, quotes are referenced in the parenthesis. One last note: I am not making corrections of any kind to the essay. What I turned in and was graded on is what you get.

Opposition to the series is obvious. On their website, the American Library Association stated that in 2002 the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom "received a total of 515 reports of challenges . . . . A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school about a book's content or appropriateness" ("Harry Potter Series..."). From 1999 to 2002, Harry Potter topped the list of most challenged books. In fact, the series has earned a spot among the most challenged books ever ("Harry Potter Series..."). That is significant considering how new the series is--the first book was published in 1998. To become one of the most challenged books ever in such a short time, clearly illustrates the depth of the opposition to Harry Potter. Formal written complaints aren't the only way these parents are protesting however.
Many other steps have been taken by these parents to protect their children from what they consider to be a very harmful influence. In Zeeland, Michigan, the superintendent of schools banned the reading aloud of Harry Potter books and required parental permission for library use ("Cencorship" 22). In his article for the Journal of Contemporary Religion, Michael Ostling reports "We learned of court challenges in Georgia; of Christian booksellers refusing to stock the series; of libraries pulling the books from their shelves; even--in early 2001--of a church-orchestrated book burning in rural Pennsylvania" (5). Such steps and acts demonstrate the deep resentment many Americans feel towards the series.
What is it about Harry Potter that angers and offends so many parents into actions like these? Many of them feel that the material is too dark for children of a young age to be exposed to and that it undermines family values. Many argue that Harry is a poor role model for children due to his obvious disregard for rules. The main complaint though, is regarding the theme of magic and witchcraft in the stories. Explaining the opposition's view, Ben Hubbard wrote "The books, the parents say, give their children the tools for casting spells and brewing potions and will eventually set them on a path toward satanic worship" (17). Perhaps by looking deeper at some of these complaints, we can better understand their validity.

Previous: Part One
Next: Part Three

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