Harem Scar’ em?

There are worse things for your kids than Harry Potter

A recent ruling by the Durham Region School Board restricts the reading of J.K. Rowling’s wildly popular Harry Potter series in elementary schools unless parental consent is given. They are not banning the books from their libraries, however, a memo sent to 100 elementary school principals states that “We want to be sensitive to the parents who are concerned about the amount of witchcraft/magic in the novels.”

Come on! There are worse things kids are exposed to than witchcraft and magic. Video games, television, song lyrics, and comic books all contain violence, gore, misogyny, and other disturbing images and ideas. Quake, for example, is a computer game phenomenon. Basically, it’s about killing. Ruthlessly. Quake is available on the Internet, so anyone with a copy of the game can log on and play against other people. Like Harry Potter, it is incredibly popular amongst people of all ages. Of course, you cannot play Quake in school, but that is because it is extremely violent. Which makes total sense. This restriction, however, does not.

Harry Potter books are not extremely violent. They are hardly violent at all. The problem is with the amount of magic/witchcraft, and most likely the presence of dark magic and evil. Harry’s arch-nemesis is the evil Lord Voldemort. The most important thing for Voldemort is to kill Harry Potter, who is the reason the evil wizard has lost his powers. So, yes, there are some scary scenes involving dark magic, and one character is killed by dark magic. This stuff is just as scary as the evil nemeses of Disney movies who always try to kill the good guy, often using magic. Magic and witchcraft should be the least of parents’ worries. Dark magic cannot be used on other children. It does not exist. Also, in Harry Potter books, dark magic is not the central theme. Compared to other forms of entertainment, a little dark magic is not going to warp kids.

The great things about Harry Potter books far outweigh the negative. One of Harry’s best friends is a girl named Hermione Granger. Hermione is the smartest kid in school. She is brave, loyal, intelligent and gets to date someone important (which shouldn’t matter, but does, and which I won’t give away). This is the type of role model little girls need. This is the type of character little boys should think is cool. Not the women of wrestling, for example, who wear plastic thongs and respond with giggles to chants of ‘Show us your puppies.’

Also, no matter how much witchcraft and magic may worry parents, the main point is that kids are reading. And it’s not crap. They’re reading highly imaginative, well written books involving wholesome, well-rounded characters who face and win battles using their wits (and magic). Harry Potter books have become the most popular children’s books in history. These books are the Alice in Wonderland, Chronicles of Narnia, and Charlotte’s Web of my childhood. I still remember how excited I would be to hear another installment of Charlotte’s Web every Friday afternoon in the third grade. An experience that should not be kept from children today, regardless of magic.

Alicia Cox is not ashamed to admit she has a slight crush on Harry Potter, and cannot wait for the movie.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.