Thursday, April 20, 2006

On the fundie-mentals of reading

Okay, so just when you thought they'd kicked and screamed until they tired themselves out, fundie moms are still throwing tantrums over Harry freaking Potter. Today, the Gwinnett County school board holds a hearing to decide whether or not Laura Mallory, a mother of three likely miserable and embarrassed children, gets to protect her children from breathing Harry Potter-tainted air.

Ignoring the fact that Harry Potter hysteria is so eight years ago, what is it, exactly, that these parents are afraid of? Are they afraid that their little ones will run across it in the library and actually take some interest in reading long novels? Do they fear that little Danny will hijack the chem lab with a backpack full of Mandrake root and start cursing his fellow students? Is the concern that the antics of a bunch of well-dressed, non-drug-using, non-sex-having British teenagers will tempt poor Sally into a lifestyle of Goth makeup, sluttery and emo?

Or is the real fear that their faith isn't strong enough? If you really have a strong and sincere relationship with God, should something so simple as a work of fiction be capable of dragging you into a world of witchcraft? And if you have a healthy and communicative relationship with your child, shouldn't you be able to sit down with her and talk about the themes discussed in the book, how it relates to the teachings of your religion, and how the child feels about them? Or is real parenting just too much work?

And even if you still don't want your own child reading the books, is it right for you to deprive other children of the pleasure?

Raising a child who is capable of thinking for herself and maintaining her own ideals in a world that sometimes threatens them is a whole lot of work, though. It requires actual, y'know, parenting. It would require you to actually read the books in question all the way through, which Laura Mallory admits she hasn't done. It would require talking with your children about the things they face in life that make them question their religious upbringing, which I suspect she's afraid to do. It would require being strong enough in your own beliefs to help bolster hers, and scariest of all, it would require you to stand back and allow her to make her own choices if, with all of her options laid out in front of her, she chooses a different path than you would have her choose.

Obviously, we can't let this happen. I call for an immediate campaign against all works of fiction that might tempt our little ones away from our rigid teachings. First to go? Hoo, boy. One minute, they're sitting down to watch a movie; the next, they're tempting their friends to become plucky household appliances.

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