April 14, 2007

A third appeal takes it too far....

OK. I have tried to be good and keep my commenting on Harry Potter to the minimum because I know peoples feelings on it in this class. I also know that Valerie and I are working on this for our project. However, in doing research for our project I came across something that I want to comment on away from the Harry Potter Criticism blog because it is purely my opinion. So, the rest of this entry is going to be devoted to the Laura Mallory case against Harry Potter in Gwinnett County, GA.

First some background on the case. This began almost a year ago when a mother of, then, three children (now four) brought the case up in a school board meeting. As reported by the Gwinnett Daily Post, Mrs. Mallory claimed that the Harry Potter series supported witchcraft in children and that adults, those who are supposed to protect their children from the things the Bible calls evil, were promoting the behavior that would send their children straight to Satan's loving arms. The result of the hearing was that the books would stay on the shelf. Quoting the article:

District 2 Representative Daniel Seckinger and Chairman Robert McClure said they had not made their decision because it was the popular one or because the books encouraged kids to read. Their main priority was whether the books were appropriate for students. They also said the fact that Mallory had not read the book series was not a consideration in their decision.

When I read that she was pursuing this without every opening the cover of one of the books I was appalled. Mallory has the right to her opinion, however making that opinion and trying to fight to have books removed from a library without ever reading them makes you more hypocritical than if you read the books first and decided afterwards that the books were bad.

But, the unanimous decision was not enough for her. The Gwinnett Daily Post reported a month later that Mallory was appealing the decision. And so, the school's superintendent submitted the appeal to the Georgia State Board of Education. The Board of Education decided to hold a public hearing on October 3, 2006 to decide Harry's fate. The Post again reports Mallory as saying:

“Witchcraft is being mainstreamed to our children today,’’ she said. “My children are the most precious thing in the world to me. I surely do not want them to be indoctrinated into a religion whose practices are evil.’’ Mallory also referred to research by the American Academy of Pediatrics that found young children cannot readily distinguish fantasy from reality and try to imitate what they’ve read. But Victoria Sweeny, the Gwinnett school board’s lawyer, said the Potter books are clearly “fantasy fiction’’ and are kept in the fiction section of school libraries.

No decision was reported in this article, however on December 14, 2006 her case was overturned and the final vote the following day another report in the paper restated that fact.

Then, on January 19, 2007 Mallory appealed the state's decision. (Third times the charm?) Mallory's comment on the appeal? Well you have to read it to believe it:

Laura Mallory said her one-sentence appeal, dated Jan. 9, was filed after "a lot of prayer ... (and) a very, very specific answer to prayer."
"I didn't want to do it if the Lord didn't want me to," said Mallory, who has two children in elementary school this year. "It's not easy, the criticism, but I'm trying to do what's right."

How does the school board feel about it? Well:

Roach said Mallory "certainly has a right" to appeal, but the school system believes the appeal will affirm the decisions of the local and state boards. Mallory, however, says the power of God will ultimately win.

Who knows what is going to happen with this third round of hearings, but they have been set for May 29, 2007. This will mean a full year has gone by where this mother has been attending and preparing for hearings.

One has to applaud her consistency. Many would have given up by now. I just feel like she is wasting her time. The last article linked to here states that, according to the American Library Association, the book has been challenged "at least 115 times since 2000, making them the most challenged texts of the 21st century." That's a lot of challenges for a series.

Mallory's attempts to have this book have come under some extreme fire and caused much controversy. Emil Steiner writes on her efforts in a blog titled: Laura Mallory v. Harry Potter 3: This Time It's Idiotic. I came across this when searching about the controversy and this is actually what sparked my desire to write this entry. I didn't know about it until reading this post found on the Washington Post website. Some people in the comments on this blog call her quite a source for entertainment, however others have taken up the task to demeaning or upholding what she has to say.

One comment, made by someone calling herself AtlantaMom states:

I think all you folks hate Laura because you know deep down she has a point but you are afraid to admit it. You are cowards because you cannot be honest with yourselves. That is my main problem with HP, the deception and lying. I commend you Laura, for taking a stand however unpopular it might be. Fight on inspite of the sinners trying to bring you down. You cause is that of righteousness and you will get your just desserts.

And another by someone calling themselves Dagmar states:

Look, you either follow the Bible or you don't, but it clearly states that witchcraft and the like is evil. Now if you don't follow the Bible and are choosing darkness, that's fine, but at least own up to it. Don't try and have it both ways just because you are entertained by these satanic writings but you still think you should be saved. Its all there in black and white, my friends, "you reap what you sow." GOD BLESS

And if these were not enough the people on the con side of what Mallory is doing are even more numerous and even more outrageous in the commenting. Many of the people on this side begin attacking Mallory for her parenting habits. One person, Claire Spencer, states at the beginning of a very lengthy comment:

The merits or otherwise regarding the content in the Harry Potter books is neither here nor there - what Laura Mallory appears to be insinuating is that a book has the power to change a young person's moral fibre for the worse. I would argue that a person's quality is a combination of nurture and nature, and if a child were so easily convinced to lie, cheat or steal - then something is wrong elsewhere. To spell it out: their upbringing has failed them. That responsibility lies with the parents to ensure that a child know what right and wrong are. Reading about the wrongs of others is not wrong. It is informative.

What does all this say to me? As a future teacher, a literature major, and a fan of the novels all it says to me is that some people just like to take a fan to flames. While I am most assuredly for the books, I do believe that people have a right to their opinion. I don't agree that Mallory should be trying to force her religious beliefs onto other parents through her efforts to have the books removed from her school's library, but at the same time I don't think that people should be attacking the way that she has chosen to raise her children either. With the fast approaching arrival of the final book and the fifth movie I can't help but brace myself for the oncoming slaughter on both sides. Mallory's appeal comes out just a mere month and a half before both release dates and I can only imagine what is going to happen. Thankfully I'll be at camp by that time so the controversy won't ruin the book for me, but I really feel for others that have to see that in their papers and their news.

I think that is enough for now. I hope I didn't bore you to sleep through this long entry, but it was something that I had to do.

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at April 14, 2007 7:18 PM | TrackBack
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