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Witches: are they out to get you or just minding their own business?

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, December 10, 2010 23:12 EDT
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Here’s a story that makes me all warm and fuzzy with Christmas cheer.

A decision by the local Salvation Army to refuse Harry Potter and Twilight toys donated for its Christmas campaign has angered some Calgarians.

Capt. Pam Goodyear, a Salvation Army spokeswoman, said the Christian aid organization doesn’t support witchcraft, witchery and black magic.

On its own, this level of wingnut stupidity on the part of the Salvation Army would be funny enough. But the reporting makes this even better. I have to believe in my heart of hearts that the reporter decided that a story of this magnitude needed some dry comedy in it. And boy does she succeed!

Jonathan Gardiner has read all the Harry Potter books and seen all the movies and said there’s nothing occultist in the material.

There are two angles you can take when reporting this story. You could start with the assumption that the Salvation Army is out of their minds if they believe a) that witches are real and b) that child-oriented fantasy novels are effective recruiting tools. Or you could accept this premise as possible, and report on this as if were a debate over whether or not these specific materials have the potential to draw children into witchcraft. The latter is way more fun, and as you can see from the quote above, our intrepid reporter Lea Storry—my new personal hero—decided to go the fun route.

“I’m disappointed and angry,” said Gardiner.

“My understanding of Christianity is one of understanding, tolerance and compassion for everybody.”

Even, apparently, imaginary people doing imaginary things like witchcraft and child recruitment into witchcraft. Tolerance for the real and imaginary alike! I think that was in the Sermon on the Mount.

Jagdutt Singh is the priest at St. Barnabas Anglican Church in the northwest……

The priest added he’s not going to put the Salvation Army down but the organization should be more open and look at the banned toys as an opportunity to educate kids.

“I feel it’s better for us to talk to children about these things rather than denying it,” he said.

Say what? The only rational way to talk to kids about the dangers of being recruited into witchcraft is by denying it, because it isn’t real.

Falah Alhassan, the father of two daughters, aged five and six, said their Christmas list includes a certain famous young wizard.

“I don’t believe the Salvation Army should be against it,” said the 39-year-old.

And that is it, folks. Not a single quote from a single person questioning the Salvation Army for believing in witches. Not a single wink or nod in the direction of the bone-headed stupidity at the core of this, which is the belief in witches. In this case, clearly the value is high comedy. But if Storry works really hard on this skill of dryly reporting the “he said/he said” aspects of a story instead of looking at the claims themselves for validity, she could have a career in cable news. I, for one, am looking forward to Chris Matthews hosting a debate with one talking head shouting that Harry Potter brings kids into witchcraft, and the other suggesting that the books have no relationship to witchcraft, but no one bothering to point out that there is no such thing as witches. Maybe Christine O’Donnell could get involved.

Update:
Someone should write a piece on the pros and cons of banning karma.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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