Is the new Harry Potter book pro-gun?


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Don Gwinn
July 9, 2003, 07:07 PM
Normally, I just roll my eyes at this kind of "spot the pro-gun stuff in popular culture" exercise, but this caught my eye. In a new Dave Kopel piece, he opens with a bit of color from the Harry Potter series:
In the new Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the young wizarding students are frustrated by a "Defense Against the Dark Arts" teacher who resolutely refuses to teach the students how to protect themselves. The teacher, Deloris Umbridge, is a government bureaucrat, and she considers it better that innocents be murdered by the Death Eaters than for people outside the government to be able to fight back.

So, who's read it? I'm not doing it until the paperback comes out. It sure sounds like Ms. Rowling has decided to incorporate the self-defense debate into Order of the Pheonix--and if she's not on our side, Harry Potter is.

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Baba Louie
July 9, 2003, 07:18 PM
I suppose you could make a far-fetched comparison between holding a magic wand and... Naaaaahhh

Proper Use of a Tool. That's it. The proper use of a tool. Used properly, said tool saves lives; used improperly it can take lives.

I'd leave it to mum and dah or the kiddies to make the connection... its not far-fetched at all.

Learning Individual responsibility w/ lack of parental input... Usually does the right thing.

Self defense and a heightened personal awareness level to nearby and longterm dangers...

A lesson all humans should learn.

It was Good Reading, I thought.

Adios

Stickjockey
July 9, 2003, 07:19 PM
Finished it about a week ago. Aside from it being a good story, it does have a very interesting feel concerning self-defense, government ineptitude, and even underground revolutionary groups. Media bias, .gov heavy-handedness, it's all in there!

agricola
July 9, 2003, 07:20 PM
actually I always thought the Harry Potter books were Platonist in nature.

Hkmp5sd
July 9, 2003, 07:24 PM
I've read the series so far and it can be considered pro CCW. All of the students carry magic wands in their robes and frequently pull them out to use in self-defense. In the 2nd book, Harry and Ron even used their wands to force a teacher to do what they wanted him to do.

In the last book, the teacher hired to teach them "Defense Against the Dark Arts" (ie Self Defense) doesn't teach them anything useful because she doesn't want them to be able to defend themselves. The students form a secret class to study on their own.

Porter Glockwell
July 9, 2003, 07:26 PM
The new Harry Potter book is quite possibly the most politically charged children's book I have ever read. The government is oppresive, prosecutes cases with wild abandon, buraucratic, and oftentimes downright tyrannical. I found it to be a thinly veiled treatise on the right to self-defense and personal liberty.

practical self defense is banned, and the underground rushes to fill the vaccum.

The wizard media portrays those who fight against tyrrany and evil as paranoid reactionaries and wackjobs just like it does to modern day gunowners.

it's a great read too.

Porter

shooten
July 9, 2003, 08:13 PM
It was a good book. They also had to check their wands as they entered the government ministries.

Scott

DigMe
July 9, 2003, 08:44 PM
I'm reading it now. There definitely seem to be parallels between guns and wands. There is one comment made about "wand safety" when Harry shoves his wand into his back pocket and an older wizard makes a comment about how some have...well darnit..now I had to look it up. Here's the quote after Harry sticks the wand in the back pocket:


"Don't put your wand there, boy!" roared Moody. "What if it ignited? Better wizards have lost buttocks, you know!"

and then

"Elementary wand safety, nobody bothers about it anymore..."


brad cook

cool45auto
July 9, 2003, 08:56 PM
I guess there are some connections you could make. I keep hearing about the Biblical connections more than anything else, though. Anyway whenever a student lost their wand or it got broken they were pretty much defenseless so that would seem to mean you need some form of weapon.

Backwoods
July 9, 2003, 08:57 PM
Damn! Now I'm going to have to read it. I work at one of the printing facilities that printed a large portion of them. The publisher gave everyone in the plant a copy after the public release date so I've got one sitting here.

Don in Ohio

Don Gwinn
July 9, 2003, 10:16 PM
Mad-Eye Moody is back? Excellent. I liked him a lot, but I figured he would never be heard from again (he was, after all, a Defense-Against-the-Dark-Arts teacher at Hogwarts.)

cool45auto
July 9, 2003, 10:27 PM
Remember Mad-Eye was held captive in his trunk while Mr. Crouch's son impersonated Mad-Eye at Hogwarts.

Hkmp5sd
July 10, 2003, 06:26 AM
Mad-Eye Moody is back?

Actually, all of the characters from the first 4 books are back in this book. Except, of course, the dead ones.

mete
July 10, 2003, 07:44 AM
Did you see the news item about the women who was trying to make up a Harry Potter like potion ? She burned her house down !! Powerfull potion.

Mostly Harmless
July 10, 2003, 01:12 PM
It's a sort of "Unintended Consequences" for kids :D

I picked up the hardcover on publication day at a substantial discount, read it and passed it on to my son:

"Mom, this is sort of like 'Animal Farm' -- where the story isn't about what it seems to be about. This isn't about witches and magic, it's about politics and oppression".

"Yep, it's a parable or if you prefer, an allegory."

"Can we go to the range please? I need to practice my Defence Against The Dark Arts."

Ah, the joys of motherhood.... I love my little Libertarian :rolleyes:

J.

Porter Glockwell
July 10, 2003, 01:25 PM
I also seem to remember a tiny blurb about the "wand registration act of 1075" or some such date being an utter failure. I'll have to look back throught the book and find the quote.

Porter

recal
July 10, 2003, 01:39 PM
The new Harry Potter book is quite possibly the most politically charged children's book I have ever read. The government is oppresive, prosecutes cases with wild abandon, buraucratic, and oftentimes downright tyrannical. I found it to be a thinly veiled treatise on the right to self-defense and personal liberty.

Glad to hear it. Especially surprising, coming from a Brit author. Will have to read. Wonder when the NEA will try to have it banned.

FNFiveSeven
July 10, 2003, 02:35 PM
Well, speaking of banning this book, there are a lot of groups who have already tried to do just that, but there arguments were largely based on the belief that the book was some sort of occult work of the devil that sought to teach kids witchcraft.

As far as the guns=wands thing, yeah, I've noticed that a bit as well. Notice how when Harry goes to the ministry of magic, they declare that all wands must be inspected and registered (!!) at the front office.

Ian11
July 10, 2003, 04:00 PM
Wow. Its sounds pretty good. I read the first book and saw both movies and was not impressed with the story so far. Thought it was too simple and geared too much toward little kiddies for me. I'm biased too since I thought it stole some of the attention from the LOTR books and movies (Not that it needed more hype though ;) )


Can I enjoy the new book to see those possible "pro-gun/self-defense" allegories myself without reading the others first? As I said, I only read the first.

HBK
July 10, 2003, 04:50 PM
Ian, you really ought to, if you've the time, read them one after the other. The 4th and 5th ones are where the above mentioned is more prominent, but they are a great series. I was able to read one through three with no waiting, then the waiting was torture for the fourth one. If you read them all, each gets better and maybe the 6th one will be out by the time you finish the fifth.

BryanP
July 10, 2003, 09:20 PM
The really great thing about these books as the characters age they do act differently. Harry & co are 15 now and he acts like a 15 year old. Sometimes he's OK, but he can be a whiney snot when he's feeling persecuted. Each book is a bit more mature and less of a children's story.

I literally read the last pages about 15 minutes ago. Man, I really hope she doesn't have such a long delay before #6 comes out.

Tempest
July 11, 2003, 03:29 PM
I finished it the day after it came out, and re-read it last week. I asked a couple of friends what they thought about the politics, but most of them sort of shrugged the political aspect off. I'm glad to see I'm not just imagining things. :)

This was quite possibly the best book out of the series. It's a slam on power-hungry bureaucrats, on government involvement in education, and on anti self defense. At the same time, the characters are human and vulnerable. Harry, aside from becoming a bratty teen at times, also exhibits certain signs of PTSD from his last encounter with Voldemort. He's growing as a human being and developing as a wizard.

Loved it! Loved every page! :cool:

M58
July 11, 2003, 07:38 PM
Very powerful stuff dpending on the reading.
Rowling when asked said that she is not writing for kids.
The English have often used cleverly written satire to attack the Crown.
:neener:

Marko Kloos
July 11, 2003, 08:02 PM
I thought it was very pro-defense. The kids take defense lessons against the explicit orders of the bureaucrat who wants to see them powerless, and everybody totes a wand. Incidentally, even at the Ministry of Magic, the wands only have to be checked at the security desk, not surrendered. During the final showdown, even the kids hold their own against adult wizards thanks to their illegally-practiced self-defense lessons.

c_yeager
December 19, 2003, 04:00 AM
The books MAY be pro defense. But, they are most certainly NOT pro-RKBA. Recall what happened to Hagrid when he got kicked out of school? Confiscated wand/implicit word from the powers-that-be not to perform magic period. Seems to me that the ownership of a wand is fairly well controlled and allowed only to an "approved" class.

dischord
December 19, 2003, 05:41 AM
Well, this is what the Libertarians think of Harry, FWIW

Harry Potter: The new Atlas Shrugged?

by Eryk Boston
Special to LP News

There is a pure joy in seeing libertarian principles expressed by unexpected sources in a world teeming with those who love power. This is especially true when the expression is focused on the next generation. Thus, I am almost rapturous about book five in the Harry Potter series, The Order of the Phoenix.

The first blessing of the Harry Potter series is that it is an example of a gifted writer making an obscene fortune by creating a product people love. It has recently been confirmed that J. K. Rowling is now wealthier than the World's Greatest Welfare Mother, the Queen of England. That alone is enough to warm my capitalist heart.

But far more important is that the first printing of The Order of the Phoenix will be 8.5 million copies. Subsequent printings could number in the tens of millions. Millions of young kids, and many not-so-young kids, read these books repeatedly and absorb every detail. And this is one of the most anti-government books I've read since Atlas Shrugged.

I'm not the first person to point out that the Harry Potter books have a libertarian flavor. The wizarding world in the series has a private banking system and no apparent zoning laws. Wizards have the right to carry a wand -- more dangerous than any firearm -- at all times for the express purpose of self-defense. The schools are largely independent (until this book). Dumbeldore, the most powerful wizard alive, actively avoids a position in government. Independent action is celebrated. Notably absent is any mention of a system of taxation.

There is a formal government, but its purpose has been primarily to hide the wizarding world from muggles (i.e. you) and to control abuse of magic that could harm others. Until now, the high-ranking government ministers in the tales have generally been either pompous jerks or bumbling fools. With the exception of the time when the Minister of Magic knowingly put an innocent man in prison as a public-relations stunt, the authorities have almost been comic relief.

In this book, they cross the line into being dangerously corrupt. They deliberately conceal a mortal threat to the world. They engage in campaigns of character assassination against political enemies. By the end, the Minister's personal assistant resorts to the use of torture to retain power and reveals that she sent assassins to take out Harry Potter. The book is meticulous in detailing the wrong they do, the malice in their intent, and the harm they cause.

While Lord Voldemort is the great evil of the series, Dolores Umbridge, the aforementioned government assistant, is the true villain of the book. She becomes the new Defense against the Dark Arts professor and institutes a government-approved curriculum -- ostensibly intended to teach defense, but in reality designed to create helpless and dependent students. Her first class and her appalling "We raise our hands!" teaching method is enough to cause flashbacks in any victim of government schools. She becomes a case study in power lust as she seizes control through the assumption of titles, rituals of obedience, censorship, personal enforcers, and the issuance of new decrees whenever her intentions are thwarted.

But the joy of the story is how the students and professors respond to this tyranny. The very title of the book refers to a private organization meant to fight Lord Voldemort, despite the cowardice of the state.

I won't include any spoilers, but I can say that kids who read the book will get a fine lesson in civil disobedience, passive resistance, occasional active resistance, and the price of seeking power by state fiat. Faced with classes designed to rob them of an education, the students organize to educate themselves in clear violation of the new decrees. State interference with the press is bypassed by utilizing an alternative method. The official effort to silence a news story results in the entire school reading it in one day.

And that is the key to Umbridge's downfall. As a fan of natural consequences, I found great delight in seeing her plans collapse under their own weight as soon as she got exactly what she wanted. This book will do much to instill in a generation of children an aversion to illegitimate state authority and an acceptance of righteous resistance.

As a bonus, decades of government school's efforts to make Americans illiterate could be destroyed overnight as millions of kids line up to buy an 870-page tome. Add all five books together, and they are longer than War and Peace by a wide margin. Plus, there are two more to come. While the books are widely enjoyed by children, neither the plot nor the vocabulary of the books can be said to be childish.

If you haven't already, read the books. Just get the first book and start reading. You'll soon have read all five, and find yourself happily spellbound in Harry's world -- waiting eagerly for book six.

http://www.lp.org/lpnews/0309/harrypotter.html

another okie
December 19, 2003, 09:51 AM
I've read all five. They are not great literature, but they make a good read. The fifth one is by far the most libertarian of them, which might be a reflection of Potter's age (15, prime rebellion time) or of the fact that J.K.R. is undoubtedly paying awesome sums in taxation now that she's making big bucks. Or maybe living in the Labour Party paradise has turned Big Daddy Government to ashes in her mouth.

geekWithA.45
December 19, 2003, 10:12 AM
with "thou shalt confront evil, and win" as it's premise is a great place to start.

The HP books espouses a set of civic values (integrity, bravery, competence, loyalty to ones friends, skepticism of authority, etc) that are quite subversive to any agenda that counts on people not having any of those virtues.

Sidebar: IMO, that HP espouses good civic/secular values that aren't religiously based is one of the core reasons certain sects feel so threatened by this series of books.

Joe Demko
December 19, 2003, 10:24 AM
Can you make a magic wand for real? (http://www.highdesertinsider.com/html/harrypotter_spellcasting.html)

Warning: do not attempt to read this site with a full bladder or while drinking hot liquids.

Riphalman
December 21, 2003, 05:49 AM
Is home environment of the author. For those who do not know, she may only be British in the most vague sense. She makes her home in SCOTLAND. Aye, the land of a strong and free-thinking people.

DigitalWarrior
June 11, 2004, 01:19 AM
I think that we may be seeing a libertarian surge in the very young because of these books. Holy Cow! The wand is a gun. Harry and others draw it just like a CCW. Government and Authority is almost always in error. Action is praised. BeautifulBeautifulBeautiful!

I LOVE THIS SERIES!!!

BTW - I am an adult.

Dionysusigma
June 11, 2004, 01:47 AM
c_yeager: The books MAY be pro defense. But, they are most certainly NOT pro-RKBA. Recall what happened to Hagrid when he got kicked out of school? Confiscated wand/implicit word from the powers-that-be not to perform magic period. Seems to me that the ownership of a wand is fairly well controlled and allowed only to an "approved" class.


From Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: Hagrid lowered his umbrella and stroked his beard.

"Shouldn'ta lost me temper," he said ruefully, "but it didn't work anyway. Meant ter turn him into a pig, but I suppose he was so much like a pig anyway there wasn't much left ter do."

He cast a sideways look at Harry under his bushy eyebrows.

"Be grateful if yeh didn't mention that ter anyone at Hogwarts," he said. "I'm--er--not supposed to do magic, strictly speakin'. I was allowed ter do a bit ter follow yeh an' get yer letters to yeh an' stuff--one o' the reasons I was so eager ter take on the job--"

"Why aren't you allowed to do magic?" asked Harry.

"Oh, well--I was at Hogwarts meself but I--er--got expelled, ter tell yeh the truth. In me third year. They snapped me wand in half and everything."
Later, Hagrid uses his "umbrella" to speed up a boat, get into Diagon Alley and maybe a couple other things as well.

I'd have to say that though his wand was broken, that doesn't mean it wasn't far away... ;)

The_Antibubba
June 11, 2004, 02:19 AM
...when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers!

:D

PaladinX13
June 11, 2004, 09:37 AM
I could swear we've had this discussion before. (http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=140808) And it seems we did...

I still maintain it's a very very weak analogy and if you're going to start drawing parallels a lot of bad lessons pop up. For example, in the latest movie, Hermione didn't hesitate to pull her wand on Malfoy and stick it under his chin. Definitely not something I'd want to pass along to a child.

rust collector
June 11, 2004, 01:40 PM
Seems to me the emphasis is on the responsibility that must accompany power. HP is a lad of humble means who needs a lot of work before he can realize his powerful potential. It's a good solid premise, and all ages can identify with the frustration he feels as he pays his dues and learns from the miscues.

The wands are symbolic, and brandishing them is akin to pointing a picture of a gun or sword at someone. Let's not get embroiled in an argument about IWB versus SOB carry.

The books are entertaining, they carry a worthwhile message, and while you may not agree with every element, provoking thought is a good thing.

Jay Kominek
June 11, 2004, 03:39 PM
For example, in the latest movie, Hermione didn't hesitate to pull her wand on Malfoy and stick it under his chin. Definitely not something I'd want to pass along to a child.
IMO, the Harry Potter world is more black and white than the real one. To the readers, at least, it is made perfectly clear that Malfoy is a particularly loathesome form of evil. And so, I view Hermione drawing on him and threatening not as a case of brandishing, but rather, standing up to evil.
So as with most things, the parent needs to talk to the kid to make sure they pick up the right lesson (Don't let evil push you around) instead of the wrong lesson (Brandishing is ok).

Linux&Gun Guy
June 11, 2004, 05:37 PM
Im not so sure the wand brandishing thing is so bad. Remember that wand != gun and depending on the spell it can be as harmless as a water gun or as deadly as H<sub>2</sub>S.

I think this is the equivalent of pepper spray in this case.

kernal_panic
June 11, 2004, 08:36 PM
Shall we start the "what gun would you want when faced with an evil wizard" thread?

Dionysusigma
June 11, 2004, 09:37 PM
For example, in the latest movie, Hermione didn't hesitate to pull her wand on Malfoy and stick it under his chin. Definitely not something I'd want to pass along to a child.
Remember also that Ron said "He's not worth it, Hermione!" She then put her wand away and slugged him. :)

Don Gwinn
June 11, 2004, 09:41 PM
Malfoy spent Chamber of Secrets wishing Slytherin's Heir would let him in on the fun of killing the "mudbloods" like Hermione. He's not the usual school bully rich kid, but much more sinister. He wasn't the Heir, but that doesn't mean he's a good guy. His father is in on some VERY bad stuff. In Goblet of Fire it is made clear that Malfoy knows and approves that his father is a Death-Eater, meaning he is a loyal disciple of the most evil mass murderer their world has ever seen. Never fazes him.

Putting a gun under his chin would be like putting a gun under the chin of a Crip of similar age. Not common, but not always inappropriate.

And as someone said, the books make good and evil very clear cut. It's only in the later books that we begin to be exposed to the idea that maybe Snape is more than a bit right about Harry's amazing capacity for getting into trouble, even though he's good at getting everyone out of it.

It'll be interesting to see how they handle Cedric's death.

Good God, I'm a nerd.

Hkmp5sd
June 11, 2004, 09:55 PM
Good God, I'm a nerd.

Nah, it's just a good story. I heard a rumor they were talking about splitting Goblet of Fire into two movies to keep it closer to the book.

It will also be interesting when they get to the Phoenix book to see how they handle the death of Sirius. Harry's stubbornness directly caused his death.

abrahamsmith
June 11, 2004, 09:55 PM
They may be pro-destroying-evil and hence pro-self-defence, but isn't every adventure story this way by necessity??? I think it's an enormous stretch to call them pro gun.

In one of the earlier books, there was a distinct note that the Muggles loved to use these loathsome metal mechanical intrusments to kill and maim each other. It was a particulatly anti-gun (but pro-wand) comment, as I recall.

I'd look it up, but my sister-in-law-to-be has the books 1100 miles away...

Great books, by the way! If you're feeling particularly stressed out from a hard few weeks at work, grab the books and read them over a long weekend. Great release.

Bog
June 12, 2004, 02:25 PM
Especially surprising, coming from a Brit author.

Now, now. We're not all whimpering nannyists gladly diving into Mummy's pallid embrace, there to shriek about the boogeyman under the bed.

Anyhoo, I'm very fond of the series, and largely for the self-deterministic principles that it embodies. Oh, and IIRC the "gun" comment was along the lines of :

"A 'Gun' is a sort of metal wand that muggles use to kill each other".

Or something of that ilk.

Hkmp5sd
June 12, 2004, 03:05 PM
One point I like is that beginning with the first year of school, even though wands can be used to torture and kill each other, they are not locked up after class. The 11 year-old future witches and wizards carry their wands 24/7.

One scene in the latest book also stands out. Harry sticks his wand in his back pocket and Mad-Eye jumps all over him. "Don't put your wand there, boy! What if it ignited? Better wizards than you have lost buttocks, you know! Elementary wand safety, noboby bothers about it anymore....."

Bog
June 12, 2004, 03:13 PM
One point I like is that beginning with the first year of school, even though wands can be used to torture and kill each other, they are not locked up after class. The 11 year-old future witches and wizards carry their wands 24/7.

Mm. Teaching kids responsibility and self-reliance from an early age. Who'd have thunk it?

Let's hope the lesson takes hold. Kids are our future - and they need to know what they're doing.

Anyway, I've had my soapbox moment ;)

The_Antibubba
June 13, 2004, 03:06 AM
This isn't a kid's movie-but then, these really aren't kid's books, either. The movie was a good adaptation of the book. Very complex and a lot of issues-not something I'd expect a lot of 8 year olds to get. Teens, though, definitely. They need to bring this director back.



And no, she's not the new Ayn Rand. Thank God. :neener:

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