The Ridiculous Reason Harry Potter Books Are Being Removed from School Library
The banning of books from school libraries has been a perennial story in modern American life. Usually, such incidents result from parents objecting to salacious or otherwise objectional content, from depictions of sex and violence in some modern young adult literature to the frequent use of the “n-word” in Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn.” However, a Catholic school has had the Harry Potter books removed from its library shelves for a rather odd reason. The Tennessean tries to explain.
“The students at St. Edward Catholic School in Nashville can no longer check out the popular Harry Potter book series from their school’s library.
“The seven-book series depicting the magical adventures of a young wizard and his friends were removed from the library because of their content, the Rev. Dan Reehil, a pastor at the Roman Catholic parish school, wrote in an email.
’These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception. The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text,’ the email states.
“Reehil goes on to say in the email that he consulted several exorcists in the U.S. and Rome who recommended removing the books.”
The incident at St. Edward Catholic School is not the first time the boy wizard has run afoul of the powers that be who monitor what young people are allowed to read at school. According to the Washington Examiner, the “Harry Potter” books are the most challenged books in America between 2002 and 2005. An attempt to ban the adventures of the boy wizard in Arkansas was the subject of a famous court case, Counts v. Cedarville School District, which was decided in favor of restoring the books to the school library based on First Amendment grounds. The Supreme Court, in the previous case, had affirmed that the First Amendment extends to school libraries.
As of this writing, it is unknown whether the Roman Catholic school in Nashville is going to be hit with a similar suit. The defense against a court action on First Amendment grounds might rest on freedom of religion, the right for books to be banned that allegedly violate Roman Catholic teaching.
The question arises, do the “Harry Potter” books allow one to invoke evil spirits? The books became a world-wide reading phenomenon starting in the late 1990s, enticing young readers away from their video games and live stream television, back to dead tree books. The books have been praised for their themes of doing what is right, even when it is perilous, sticking with one’s friends, and fighting against tyranny and evil.
The books also depict a parallel world in which people capable of using magic live alongside the ordinary world of “muggles” which is to say people who don’t know how to do magic. One of the more amusing parts of the mythos is that every time a leader is installed in a major country, he or she gets a visit from that country’s “Minister of Magic,” though in the United States that person is likely the “Secretary of Magic.” One can just imagine such a meeting in the Oval Office involving President Trump.
The “Harry Potter” books and the hit movies that were made from them have made their author, J.K. Rowling, the wealthiest woman in the UK. Rowling’s success has meant that her opinions about matters not involving the use of magic have been publicized. She opposed a recent referendum for Scottish independence and also has come out against Brexit. She even made her preference for Hillary Clinton for president of the United States clear, even though Rowling is not an American citizen. Some thought her weighing in on an election in a country not her own a bit presumptuous, pointing out that Clinton most resembles a villain in her book, one Dolores Umbridge.
Rowling recently got into trouble with the social justice crowd when she attempted to flesh out the nature of the wizarding world in America. She noted that magic in the United States is heavily influenced by Native American culture. Some slammed Rowling for “cultural appropriation” for the crime of being a white woman even writing about the subject.
As of this writing, Rowling has not commented on the Tennesse dust-up concerning Harry Potter. Some on social media have noted that half a billion of the books have been sold worldwide and not one instance of an evil spirit being invoked as a result has been reported.