Apparently, Hurricane Dorian blew me back to sometime during the late 90s or early 00s. Assuming that misguided fear over Harry Potter was no longer a thing in 2019, I was quite surprised this morning when I found myself staring at a headline about a school in Nashville, Tenn., banning the popular series from its libraries. According to a pastor at the school, reading the book can summon demons. Because of that, St. Edward Catholic School has ordered all Harry Potter books removed from the school’s libraries.
In an email obtained by Indy 100, Reverend Dan Reehil explained, “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 article includes a series of tweets from people encouraging parents of St. Edward students to pull their kids from the school. One Twitter user wrote, “If your child attends this school, pull them out immediately. If the school thinks there are *real magic spells* in *Harry Potter* then it cannot be trusted to teach your child real scholastic skills.”
If your child attends this school, pull them out immediately.
If the school thinks there are *real magic spells* in *Harry Potter* then it cannot be trusted to teach your child real scholastic skills. https://t.co/sFgp1wSICY
— Jason Cross (@JasonCross00) September 2, 2019
While I don’t agree that parents need to take the drastic step of pulling their kids from the school (administrative decisions don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of the actual teachers), I agree with the overall sentiment of the tweet. It’s ridiculous that in 2019 the old canard of Harry Potter is evil is again being trotted out. That, and I’m opposed to banning books, as a general rule.
Look, I’m not a fan of Harry Potter, but that’s because I’m a middle-aged man; I was never the series’ target audience. I find the books boring, predictable, and written at a level well below what I generally like to read (in the issue of full disclosure, I should probably mention that I’ve never read the books, only watched the movies – some of the movies. My literary criticism of Harry Potter should probably be taken with a whole beaker full of salt). But at no point have the accusations that J.K. Rowling is leading her readers into the occult been anything but laughable to me.
The books do not contain real curses nor do they conjure up evil spirits. A quick Google search will confirm that as will plain old common sense combined with the testimony of those who love the series — like my wife and daughter. What’s more, one of my exes was a Wiccan. And if you know anything about Wiccans, what they say and do has next to nothing to do with the wizarding world of Harry Potter. In fact, while a false religion, Wicca has next to nothing to do with the hyperbolic caterwaulings of anti-Harry Potter zealots like Rev. Reehil.
For the sake of consistency, St. Edward should also ban Shakespeare’s Macbeth, if they haven’t already done so. An old theatre superstition believes that Druids cursed the play after becoming angry over the Bard’s inclusion of actual Druid spells. This is why you’ll often hear actors saying The Scottish Play when referring to Macbeth; it’s bad luck to say the name of the play unless you’re performing it. All nonsense, of course, but actors can be a silly lot. Apparently, the administration of St. Edward Catholic School is also a silly lot.