Banning Harry Potter Is Just SO 20th Century

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Now that the Harry Potter books, films, water globes, watches and tote bags are an established part of western culture, banning The Golden Compass is about to be all the rage. The film, which stars Nicole Kidman, is based on the novel, Northern Lights, the first of British author Phillip Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials . It tells the story of an orphaned girl who lives in a parallel universe that is threatened by a rigid dictatorship called the Magisterium.

Calling the film “atheism for kids,” the Catholic League has strongly suggested that Northern Lights and the rest of the trilogy be removed from schools and libraries. Most descriptions of the film indicate that the author’s stance against organized religion, and the Catholic church in particular, has been significantly diluted in the film version, but the banning has already begun. Catholic League William A. Donohue say he is aware that the film is tame by the book’s standards, but he is afraid that children who see the film will want to read the novel.

Pullman, for his part, disagrees that The Golden Compass is anti-Catholic, though he acknowledges that atheism is a theme in the film. The American Library Association has issued a statement that calls on parents, teachers and librarians to resist any attempts to censor library collections.

And in a parallel universe where children are discouraged from reading books, several schools have already removed Pullman’s works from the shelves.

The Golden Compass opens in theaters this Friday.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest