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Candice McPherson

FREC 7232
Summer 2009

Reflection on Harry Potter and Censorship

. Censorship is a slippery slope. Efforts are always going to be made to censor one

book or another, but with the successful banning of any book comes a dangerous trend

and possible violation of First Amendment rights. When censorship is successful for one

book, the public school library opens the door to censorship attempts on many other

books. And if school officials were to eliminate every book that is objectionable to

someone, public school libraries wouldn’t have very many library books with which to

stock its shelves.

The series of Harry Potter books are among those that have frequent attempts at

censorship. From requiring permission slips to check out a Harry Potter book all the way

to outright banning of the books from the public school library shelves, opponents of the

series try their best to make it difficult for children to have access to them.

The main motivation for the efforts to censor these books is the portrayal of

witchcraft and wizardry in the stories. Some adults think that the books promote the

occult, which goes against Christian values. In their argument for censorship, some of

these people refer to the separation of church and state. They say that Harry Potter books

promote the religion of witchcraft. However, these same people do not have a problem

with other books with a religious bent being part of the school’s collection. Others feel

that the book’s premise of students going against authority may lead to disrespect and
rebellion in the school environment. Either way, these opponents would like to see the

series banished from public school library shelves.

However, not all adults consider Harry Potter to be a bad influence. There are

those who consider Harry Potter to be a boy hero, and welcome the premise of good

winning over evil. They don’t see the books as promoting witchcraft, just fantasy. They

believe that the books allow children to get immersed in the story and to lose themselves

in their imaginations. As far as literature goes, these books have gotten much praise from

reviewers and have won many awards. Not to mention the fact that the books are

extremely popular with the children.

The way I see it, the Harry Potter books are no different than many other

children’s books that are born of fantasy. I personally enjoyed reading the series myself

because my son got me hooked. I was brought up with traditional Christian values, but I

don’t consider the books to be a door to the occult. After all, didn’t we all grow up

listening to and reading fables and stories about witches and magic? The fact that I read

many fantasy books on these topics growing up did not make me want to become part of

the occult. Even as a child I understood that what I was reading was fantasy. I think that

adults often underestimate a child’s ability to discriminate between truth and fiction. And

even if they don’t feel that their child can distinguish between the two, what an

opportunity to sit down with the child and have a discussion about the family’s belief

system!

Reference:

DeMitchell, T., & Carney, J. (2005, October). Harry Potter and the Public School
Library. Phi Delta Kappan, 87(2), 159-165. Retrieved June 22, 2009, from MLA
International Bibliography database.