"Muggles for Harry Potter" To Fight Censorship
For Immediate Release.
NEW YORK, N.Y., March 7, 2000
Eight groups representing booksellers, librarians, publishers, teachers, writers and citizens today announced the formation of a national organization to fight efforts to restrict access to J.K. Rowling's bestselling Harry Potter books. The group, Muggles for Harry Potter, www.mugglesforharrypotter.org, is already assisting parents, students and teachers in Zeeland, Michigan, in their attempt to overturn restrictions on the use of the books in the schools there. "Muggles for Harry Potter is fighting for the right of students and teachers to use the best books that are available for children, even when some parents object," Christopher Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, said. "The Potter books are helping turn videogame players into readers. We can't allow censorship to interfere with that."
The other sponsors of Muggles for Harry Potter are the Freedom to Read Foundation, the Association of American Publishers, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Children's Book Council, the Association of Booksellers for Children, the National Coalition Against Censorship and PEN American Center.
Although the Potter books have become a publishing sensation, selling more than 18 million copies, they are also the most challenged books in the country, according to the American Library Association. Challenges to the use of the Potter books in the schools have been reported in 13 states. The most common complaint is that the books portray witchcraft in a positive light. (The son of a wizard and a witch, Harry studies magic at Hogwarts, a famous school for wizard children.) While most of these challenges are still pending or have been resolved without censorship, the superintendent of schools in Zeeland has ordered teachers to stop reading the books aloud in class. The school district now requires parental permission to borrow the books from the library or use them for book reports. The superintendent has also declared that the district will not order any future books in the series.
Judith F. Krug, director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom and executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation, said her office had received unconfirmed reports that schools in Colorado and Kansas had imposed similar restrictions. One of the purposes of Muggles for Harry Potter is to encourage Potter fans to report censorship efforts in their areas so that they can be fought, she said. Muggles for Harry Potter has created a web site to enroll members and help disseminate information, www.mugglesforharrypotter.org. The site includes background information about the Harry Potter controversy generally and the Zeeland situation in particular.
The new organization's name is taken from the Potter books. "Muggles" are non-magical folk who are for the most part oblivious to the fact that they coexist in the world with wizards and witches. Muggles for Harry Potter are obviously different than most muggles. They not only know about Harry: they support him.