Muggles for Harry Potter

Mary Ann Dimand amaebi at
Fri Jun 16 12:09:25 EDT 2000

Britta wrote:

> Apparently, Harry Potter books are banned from school
> libraries and classroooms in some U.S. states and in New
> Zealand.... I nearly couldn't believe it!

I'm afraid that people wanting to ban this or that is quite usual here in
the United States. Mind you, I have to admit that I'd just as soon "creation
science" weren't taught in the schools-- Unless it's used as an opportunity
for discussing conflicting ideas and the use of evidence.

Do people in other countries find that it is widely believed that hard
science (and other subjects taught in schools) are Lists of Facts?

> ...if you have a problem with some of the issues, why not read
> the books in school and talk about them?

It takes work. And I find that a lot of Americans feel that it's Morally
Correct not to permit the discussion of topics people disagree about,
particularly if they are felt to be Upsetting. I find this very annoying, as
it gives priority to the status quo--and there's nothing neutral about that.

I also found in teaching economic history that my students had no notion of
reading analysis as argument and considering the approach taken. To my
delight and surprise, they seemed to enjoy working on this. (I have a small
sample problem, though! :D ) I wasn't that surprised that they hadn't
formally worked with argument before, but I was considerably startled that
the concept was apparently quite alien to them.

> And to bring this back on topic: there's probably lots of
> things in dwj some people would have similar objections to...

Oh, of course. Not only witchcraft and contentious families and neglectful
parents and so on, but Mockery of the Clergy. (The weak and wandering vicar
from Charmed Life, if nothing else.) And not enough vegetables, of course.

> Oh, and another one of those half-forgotten books from
> childhood / puberty is one where people wanted to ban "Tom
> Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn" from being read, on the grounds
> that women were portrayed as stupid, and that Tom on the boat
> just with the escaped slave is also not ok... anyone know it?

I don't know the book (unless it is conceivably an Edward Eager? dim
echoes). The most usual pretext for banning Huckleberry Finn, though, as I
understood it, was that it represents African Americans speaking dialect,
and employs the word "nigger".

Now for my truly grievous news. In the course of the past couple of years
I've seen reports of several surveys on American opinion of evolutionary
theory, and they come up with 30-60 per cent of Americans disbelieve in
evolution. (I think this one is very sensitive to how the question is

I had an entomologist colleague who received death threats from students for
teaching evolution at an earlier appointment in Texas. The administration's
reaction was to write a clause on her next contract that she should not
teach evolution.

Mary Ann

........................................................     why wouldn't you? 

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