Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself.”     Potter Stewart

May 31, 2007

Religious Zealot Fails To Remove Harry Potter From Schools

by Kevin

In Georgia, a holier than thou Christian by the name of Laura Malloy has tried, and failed, for the 5th time to remove Harry Potter from Gwinnett County government school library shelves. Malloy says the books cause children to embrace witchcraft:

A judge gave Laura Mallory 64 minutes Tuesday to argue why the Harry Potter books should be removed from school library shelves.

She didn’t convince him.

Superior Court Judge Ronnie Batchelor instead upheld a decision by the Gwinnett County public schools to reject Mallory’s request and keep the popular J.K. Rowling series in school libraries.

The hearing Tuesday marked the fifth defeat for the Loganville woman, who has children in the Gwinnett schools and who launched her anti-Potter crusade in 2005.

Mallory said she is considering filing “a brand-new case” in federal court and hiring a lawyer to represent her.

“One day, the truth about this is going to come out,” she said.

School system spokeswoman Sloan Roach said the Gwinnett school board is prepared for that possibility. “Obviously, we hope this is the end of it,” Roach said.

As for the argument that the Harry Potter books have gotten children interested in reading:

Supporters of Rowling’s books say the popular stories about boy wizard Potter encourage children to read. Mallory responded that wasn’t sufficient reason to allow the books to remain in school libraries. “I’m sure there are teenagers who read pornography, but that doesn’t make it right,” she said.

So Harry Potter is now equal to Playboy or Hustler…I’m not seeing the similarities.

Why does Ms. (since I know this probably irritates her) Mallory hate Harry Potter so much:

Mallory restated many of her previous complaints about the Harry Potter series. She argued the books lure children into practicing witchcraft. Mallory said the school board’s decision to offer the books in taxpayer-funded libraries violates the U.S. Constitution because, she claims, they promote the Wiccan religion. Mallory also argued the books are too violent for children.

Mallory has acknowledged that she hasn’t read any of the Harry Potter books in their entirety, but Tuesday she recited excerpts of at least three of the books to illustrate her points.

Mallory, sometimes breaking into tears, read testimony from a teenager who said reading the books led her to contemplate suicide. Quoting a counselor who testified at a previous hearing, Mallory said the Potter movies and books led one boy into high-risk behaviors, such as dangerous motorcycle stunts and bungee jumping.

So is Mallory bring this case because she’s a type that believes in separate church and state? Not quite:

“I have a dream that God will be welcomed back into our schools,” Mallory said.

So she wants to get rid of a book series that she alleges (with little merit if she knew anything about the Wiccan sect) promotes a religion in order to get her religious viewpoints in the government schools. What does the Bible say about hypocrites again?

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22 Comments

  1. please explain how Harry Potter caused these children to engage in dangerous behaviors. It seems rather peculiar that a single book can have that much influence over anyone. This woman needs help.

    Comment by someguy — May 31, 2007 @ 6:28 am
  2. Has she read the old testament? It’s waaaaay more violent than any Potter book.

    Comment by Henry — May 31, 2007 @ 8:11 am
  3. Perhaps this woman would be more successful in fighting to get a separation between school and state instead. That way, her tax dollars wouldn’t have to go to a library with Harry Potter and instead go to a school that promotes the values in “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Too bad very few people will look at this angle of the situation.

    Comment by trumpetbob15 — May 31, 2007 @ 9:24 am
  4. I was just thinking about the Old Testament and how violent it was and than saw Henrys comment. I would rather my kids’ read Harry Potter any day!

    Comment by jcnwyatt — May 31, 2007 @ 9:34 am
  5. This is one of the reasons why we need school choice. She wouldn’t have to try and force her view points on anyone else. If she didn’t like what the school was doing she could go to another school that better fit her and her childrens need and take the money with her to the new school. Instead we have a system that basically says you have to fight it out or create turmoil to get your way because you have no other educational choices and even if you do you will have to pay twice for it.

    Comment by TerryP — May 31, 2007 @ 10:05 am
  6. First, the correct solution is to separate state from education. We need to move to a voucher system.

    Second, she did not make any reference to violence. She said “increase interest in witchcraft”.

    Now, you may or not believe in such things, but maybe you should read about the true story behind the movie “exorcist”. (http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0137.html)

    As for separation of Church and State, remember the 2nd part: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    I don’t agree that she should prevail in a lawsuit to remove Potter. I think that each school should be incorporated separately, with a share given to each resident of that district. Then, with vouchers, citizens could choose the school of their choice. This seems to be the only logical implementation of the first amendment clause.

    Comment by Gunnar — May 31, 2007 @ 10:12 am
  7. Harry Potter is about witchcraft, but in the same way most of us are not tapping our heals like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and saying, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home…”, most of us are not trying to cast spells on people. However, that said…Mallory is correct in that some children are influenced by the Harry Potter books in the wrong direction. I believe she is incorrect in trying to get the books banned. She would be better served in publishing her own book on the subject, minus the book banning effort.

    Alexander
    TheScroogeReport.com

    Comment by Alexander — May 31, 2007 @ 11:39 am
  8. Gunnar – Actually, what that website link does not tell you about the “exorcist” is that there is no evidence, nor any sort of documentation whatsoever regarding the “exorcism” or Robbie. The story was conjured up by a priest telling a story to a parapsychology group. The “story” was then published by local newspapers.

    Exorcisms are not real. Evil is not real. Witchcraft is not real. All of those things are juveniles acting out in unintelligent ways because they’ve been offered no better alternative or intellectually stimulating path to route their rebellious, disappointed energies.

    Anyone who thinks Harry Potter is promoting witchcraft and makes banning the book part of their daily routine ought to reconsider their own values and religious ties. How many innocent lives have been lost due to wars and genocides linked to religion? Then compare that number to how many lives have been lost in the name of Harry Potter.

    The disparity might be enlightening.

    Comment by Hitch — May 31, 2007 @ 11:51 am
  9. She is abusing and misusing the court system to try and impose her view/interpretation of the world on all. At the very least, she should be required to pay for the attorney’s fees for the school board. I’m sure that the tax payer monies being used to defend these actions could be better used by the school district.

    Gunner and all the voucher people. Public education is a keystone of our democracy and needs to be supported with our tax dollars and with community and parental involvement. You are free to take your children out of the publicly funded system. But, your tax dollars and those of the other tax payers who currently don’t have children in school should be used to support the public school system.

    You and your children are free to go and metriculate where you like, but, your tax dollars belong to the public school system.

    Viva la Harry Potter.

    Comment by Todd — May 31, 2007 @ 12:06 pm
  10. >> Exorcisms are not real. Evil is not real. Witchcraft is not real.

    Details about your particular belief system is definitely changing the subject. Hitch, I think you better read my post again. I included that link as an explanation of why this lady is upset. It seems like you don’t really agree with: Congress shall pass no law … prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

    >> makes banning the book part of their daily routine ought to

    I made it clear that it would not be correct to remove the book from the library. Besides, no one was trying to ban a book. There is a very good argument to be made that one’s tax dollars should not be used to support religions one does not support. I presented a good solution, but instead of supporting this position, you launch into an anti-religious diatribe.

    >> How many innocent lives have been lost due to wars and genocides linked to religion?

    Hmmm, besides being completely off point, I’ll comment. Actually, the death toll from aethiestic communism is 149,469,610.

    Comment by Gunnar — May 31, 2007 @ 12:58 pm
  11. >> impose her view/interpretation of the world on all

    Actually, that’s what the public school systems do. The only reason for anyone to believe that government run schools is the only way is because they want to indoctrinate children.

    >> Public education is a keystone of our democracy and needs to be supported with our tax dollars

    One can make an argument that a free and prosperous society requires educated citizens, but it doesn’t have to be one public entity. This goal can be achieved with vouchers. In fact, if education is good for society, then a better education is even better for society. Therefore, let’s use competition for customers to spur schools to educate better.

    >> But, your tax dollars and those of the other tax payers who currently don’t have children in school should be used to support the public school system

    Why? Why should my tax dollars be used to pay for schools that are really incompetent and bad for kids.

    >> You and your children are free to go and metriculate where you like, but,

    Well, thanks, you are so kind. You don’t even know how statist you sound.

    >> your tax dollars belong to the public school system

    What happened to the right to property? I guess you don’t believe in that. And you want to indoctrinate our children not to believe in the right to property.

    Comment by Gunnar — May 31, 2007 @ 1:10 pm
  12. Imagination should not be limited, should not be censored and least of all banned! It continues to amaze me that in this day and age there are still people who would impose their views on others even, and sometimes especially if it means trampling all over the liberties that were given to us by God. Religious zealots are nothing but deeply scarred, opportunists. If there are people who don’t want their child to read Harry Potter, I feel sorry for their child- not because they’ll be missing Harry’s adventures, but because they will raise their own children with the same absurd expectations. It’s inconceivable that centuries have passed since the inquisition and we still have the rumblings of another uprising. I agree that not everyone in the world has the capacity to reason, but those that don’t have no business harrassing the ones that do.

    Comment by Estrella Eguino — May 31, 2007 @ 3:35 pm
  13. Estrella Equino,

    “It continues to amaze me that in this day and age there are still people who would impose their views on others”

    Wait a minute. The school is actually imposing its viewpoint on her. Why should she have to pay court costs? If you really want the best solution that doesn’t trample on anybody’s liberties, get rid of public schools. If she is not forced to pay taxes to support Harry Potter, she has no case. But because the school is forcing her to fund their district, she has a right to argue against having Harry Potter. Simply dismissing her as a “zealot” ignores the fact that HER religous liberty has been trampled. So, aren’t you judging her?

    Comment by trumpetbob15 — May 31, 2007 @ 4:19 pm
  14. Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

    Courts generally take one of three approaches to the Establishment Clause:
    1.) Strict separationist approach–Religion is religion and the state is the state, and never the twain shall meet.
    2.) Neutralist approach–Religion in a public setting is ok so long as all viewpoints have an equal opportunity to be heard.
    3.) Accomodationist approach–Religion supported by government is GOOD so long as the government doesn’t coerce belief.

    Laura Malloy seems to be advocating a fourth viewpoint: Religion in public school is OK, so long as it’s the “right” religion.

    Just for some background, the strict separationist approach is very rarely encountered in American jurisprudence today. Even liberals and moderates tend to go for the neutralist or accomodationist approach. Still, under these more religion-friendly approaches, Ms. Malloy simply has no valid argument.

    That this case was even heard in Court is a travesty. Ms. Malloy had no standing to bring the case because she failed to demonstrate any particularized injury. Mere distaste for a particular book is no grounds for a lawsuit.

    Ignoring this glaring procedural issue, her argument on the merits is incredibly weak. Harry Potter books have nothing to do with the Wiccan religion, or ANY religion for that matter. (Except that everyone at Hogwarts celebrates Christmas for some strange reason) It’s FANTASY….as in….NOT REAL. The books were entirely “conjured up” by J.K. Rowling. So how on earth can shelving the books in public school libraries be a violation of the Establishment Clause under ANY of the three approaches?

    Moving beyond even this obvious problem, Ms. Malloy still has no case because her children were not forced to be subjected to any “objectionable” material whatsoever. I’m sure they are perfect little Rods and Tods. No one is making them read Harry Potter, so even if Harry Potter was the holy book of the Wiccan Religion itself, there was no coercion. Without coercion, there’s simply no problem from the Accomodationist point of view. And as long as there are books from a good sampling of other religious perspectives in the library, the neutralist would also have no issue allowing Harry Potter books to be checked out (still assuming, remember, that the books have anything to do with religion at all).

    Of course, Harry Potter books have nothing to do with religion, advocate virtuous behavior, and are getting millions of children to read and use their imaginations. The real problem for fundamentalists like Ms. Malloy is that they are unable to distinguish between the absurd superstitions they so desperately cling to and the equally made-up world of flying broomsticks, magic wands, giants, and dragons.

    Comment by Matt Guyette — May 31, 2007 @ 10:20 pm
  15. I stumbled across this article published by the Foundation for Economic Freedom in its publication The Freeman and thought it was an interesting approach to the Harry Potter mania. In the article titled “Why Classical Liberals Should Love Harry Potter,” the author illustrates different places in the Potter books where classical liberal ideas are accepted and somewhat promoted. (Hopefully this link works as I have been having trouble lately getting links that show up on preview to show up after posting my comment.)

    Comment by trumpetbob15 — June 1, 2007 @ 1:04 am
  16. Well, the link showed up but it didn’t end up going to the actual article. After you click the link, there is an option to Search on the right hand side. If you type in “Harry Potter” the article should be the first one that is found. If for some reason that doesn’t work either and you are into putting in some effort, this article appeared in Vol. 50, No. 12 in the year 2000, which you can get to through the “Archive” button.

    Comment by trumpetbob15 — June 1, 2007 @ 1:09 am
  17. Matt Guyette,

    You are apparently under the impression that someone here has argued that Ms Malloy should have sued or should have prevailed. Nobody here has taken that position, so you’re arguing against a straw man.

    Comment by Gunnar — June 1, 2007 @ 8:51 am
  18. Gunnar,

    I will defend Matt Guyette. I actually did say above she should be allowed to sue. I did so using the same reasoning that allowed the ACLU to sue the government over letting Boy Scouts use government property for a weekend.

    Now, Matt, would you argue that that case had no merit and should not have been brought? Here is a link to the opinion in the case. Yes, the ACLU lost, but should they even have made it to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals? What is the difference between the ACLU (people who wouldn’t be using the park and could choose to get another location) and your critique of Mallory in your comment above?

    I choose to be consistent. Either both cases are wrong and should be thrown out immediately, or both cases are legitimate and deserve to be heard.

    Comment by trumpetbob15 — June 1, 2007 @ 12:01 pm
  19. >> I actually did say above she should be allowed to sue.

    Ok, I think we’re talking about different things. When I say “she shouldn’t have sued”, I mean that if I were in her shoes, I wouldn’t have wasted my money. I mean, it’s a fact that anyone can and will sue anybody for anything. Surely, no one can really assert that anyone should be barred from filing suit. That doesn’t make sense. Who would decide which cases be barred? A court, so what’s the point.

    I still think Matt’s posting is arguing the legal case, and not against the positions posted here.

    Comment by Gunnar — June 1, 2007 @ 12:14 pm
  20. Gunnar,

    There are cases where people are not allowed to bring their case before a judge. If someone were to bring a frivolous argument before the Tax Court, they can be hit with a $25,000 penalty and immediatly have their case thrown out. I had a professor tell me that other judges had a similar power, but I have not heard of it being used, even when it should be.

    Comment by trumpetbob15 — June 1, 2007 @ 12:33 pm
  21. The books in tax-payers libraries are against the constitution because they promote the wiccan religion???? Is her head ScReWeD on right? Not only has she not read an HP book, apparently she hasn’t read the constitution either.

    She has been at this for years and she is starting to PISS me off. First of all she is trying to control what other people can and cannot read, and then she argues it’s bad to promote a certain religion while silmulteaniously shoving hers down our throats.
    She’s whining about taxe money while wasting OURS by taking up valuable time in our court systems.
    It seems to me like she’s trying to gain power and control while forcing her biased beliefs on other people. Now who does that remind me of?

    Comment by Racheal U. — June 3, 2007 @ 10:26 pm
  22. [...] The Liberty Papers (via) have picked up the story of Laura Mallory, a more-bonkers-than-thou Christian who has tried – and failed – for the fifth time to ban the Harry Potter series of books from local libraries. [...]

    Pingback by GagWatch » Harry Potter and the Religious Nutter — June 10, 2007 @ 7:31 am

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