Mighty Red Pen

October 25, 2007

Banned in Boston

Filed under: Lit review,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:27 pm

So Harry Potter was banned from a small Catholic school just north of Boston.

According to the article (amusingly titled “Man from ministry bans Potter“):

St. Joseph’s pastor, the Rev. Ron Barker, removed the books, declaring that the themes of witchcraft and sorcery were inappropriate for a Catholic school.

 Apparently, this banning has been done for the children’s own good:

“He said that he thought most children were strong enough to resist the temptation,” said one mother who asked that her name not be used because she did not want her family to be singled out. “But he said it’s his job to protect the weak and the strong.”

MRP is not exactly sure which temptations he feels the children will not be strong enough to resist. The temptation to play Quidditch? The temptation to eat chocolate frogs and every flavor beans? To use their patronuses to vanquish their unfriendly neighborhood Dementors?

MRP invited David to opine on the subject, and he commented:

The Roman Catholic church has a long and unsuccessful history of attempting to protect “weak minds” from various literature. The church was strongly opposed to the printing press when it first appeared on the scene on the grounds that it made it too easy to spread heretical literature. . . . If this priest is really that worried about the themes of the occult and witchcraft in Harry Potter and he knows that the children in his parish are reading it, then instead of banning the book (which accomplishes nothing for those who have already read it) he could use this as a teaching opportunity. Banning the book simply makes it attractive. Talking about the fact that it is fiction and may be enjoyable reading but presents a world of questionable morality would probably be more effective. He could, perhaps, explain the church’s position on issues raised by the books and invite discussion. He could contrast real world events with the world of Harry Potter and sound theology with the quasi-Latin muttering of the books. But that, of course, would require effort, the ability to communicate with young people, and a willingness to see something worthwhile in their interests.

Putting aside the issue of it being a private school that’s theoretically entitled to ban whatever books it like, what do you think?


1 Comment »

  1. I think the timing is quite suspicious considering J.K. Rowling just recently announced one of the characters is gay.

    Comment by Molie — October 26, 2007 @ 4:49 pm | Reply

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