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The Value of Publicity … Even Bad Publicity

Copyright © 2000 by David E. Ross

I never heard of the Harry Potter books or their author J. K. Rowling until a movement began for banning the books from schools. Many others had not heard of them either until then. Today, the top three books on the New York Times best sellers list are Harry Potter books. Last week, they were also the top three on the Los Angeles Times best seller list; but this week, they dropped to positions 2-4. However, a Harry Potter book remains at the very top of the Los Angeles Times best seller list for paperback books. I believe that, without the publicity from the attempts to ban these books, they would still be relatively unknown.

The critics claim Rowling promotes satanism, disrespect for parents, and several other quasi-criminal acts. But Rowling and her books have actually made children want to read! This is important, far more important than any potential harm caused by exposing those children to fictionalized bad bahavior.

Many years ago, a book would be a guaranteed success if it could be banned in Boston, a city that had some form of censorship that today would be quickly ruled an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment. Now, success is assured for any book condemned at a school board meeting. Rowling should thank those who have tried (generally unsuccessfully) to ban her books.

To me, a book is dangerous only if you accidentally drop it on your foot. I am quite opposed to censorship. Visit my "Unrated" link at the top of this page to learn why; from there, visit my "Quiz for Censors" to see how silly the idea of banning books can be. I also request that you visit the American Library Association's Banned Books Week, where you might be surprised at which classics of literature and thought have been attacked through the years.

9 January 2000

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