Website Review: “The Great Harry Potter Debate”
I reviewed a website entitled, “The Great Harry Potter Debate.” (http://www.elycia-webdesign.com/harrypotter/debate/) The website discussed the censorship of children’s literature. It focused on the Harry Potter series. The series tells the story of a young boy, Harry Potter, whose parents are killed by the evil sorcerer Voldemort. He narrowly escapes Voldemort's attempt to kill him also, and carries a lightning shaped scar on his forehead from the battle. In the series of books, Harry goes to a magical land and learns how to become a wizard. He attends the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In the books, he encounters many adventures. (Arendt)
As I said before, the website discussed the censorship of the Harry Potter series. I chose to focus on the Anti-Harry Potter portion of the site because it dealt with this touchy subject of censorship. According to the website, some conservative Christian parents have openly called for the banning of the Harry Potter books in schools. Many parents who object to the Harry Potter books base their objections on the teaching of the Christian church. “The fears and misconceptions about anything having to do with ‘magic’ or ‘wizards’ being directly linked to Satan has helped cause this parental panic (Arendt).” There have been formal attempts to ban the books made in New York, Michigan and Minnesota.
Censorship is a serious subject. People have always tried to censor books in schools. They have done this due to religious or political reasons. They also want what is best for their children. The website told me that many communities have taken action against books that they feel will have negative effects on their children's development. I have a hard time understanding why they believe the Harry Potter series will have negative effects on their children’s development.
I have since found that there is not a very clear policy on censorship of children’s literature. I also found that the vast majority of cases regarding book banning have all declared censorship unconstitutional. In Dennis Carlson’s article, Education as a Political Issue, Carlson says that schools should not have a political agenda. I consider censorship to be a political agenda. Those who are for censoring these books want schools to be traditional and like a factory. They do not want children to be creative or have imaginations. The Harry Potter series promotes ideas such as creativity and imagination so they are clearly against it. What these people do not realize is that the “Harry Potter books are ultimately about facing problems and over coming limitations”(Arendt). The books have positive themes such as loyalty and friendship. Arendt tells us that the messages are universal. They are not obscene.
Upon surfing the Internet, I found websites such as “The Organization of People Against Potter” (TOOPAP), “The Anti-Harry Potter Association” and more. These websites all suggested that Harry Potter was evil and that our children should not be allowed to read them. What is the world coming to when children are not allowed to fantasize and imagine a far-off land of magic? Education needs to incorporate creativity and imagination. It should not discourage it. Furthermore, schools should not ban children from reading books such as the Harry Potter series. These types of books are designed to entertain.
I believe that censorship in elementary schools is necessary to an extent. Books full of extreme violence, sexuality, and bad language should be censored, but not books full of adventure and fantasy. I agree with Dennis Carlson in that teachers need to have freedom in their classrooms. They should be allowed to read the Harry Potter books to their students. They should be allowed to use the series to promote creativity and imagination. Carlson believed that schools should be open, democratic, and embrace difference. An open school should not censor books such as Harry Potter.
Returning to my review of the website, I believe that it was very informative. The website showed both sides of the debate. It provided examples from previous censorship cases. It also provided a link for people to state their own opinions. It was also a very entertaining website.