Entertainment blogger Geoff Boucher over at the L.A. Times has brought something to my attention. J.K. Rowlings, the prolific scribe of the Harry Potter franchise, was overlooked for a Presidential Medal of Freedom by the Bush crew for encouraging witchcraft in her books. Geoff Boucher picked up the news from former speechwriter Matthew Latimer's new book Speech-less: Tales of a White House Survivor. In Speech-less Latimer writes:
"This was the same sort of narrow thinking that led people in the White House to actually object to giving the author J.K. Rowling a presidential medal because the Harry Potter books encouraged witchcraft… or that Ted Kennedy was liberal…"
Like Boucher, I think this is ridiculous, laughable and depressingly primitive. Encourage witchcraft? So I guess Bush and his crew were concerned our Harry Potter-reading youth would run into the streets burning bibles and pictures of dead presidents. They were concerned these same warlock-wannabes would create national covens where toads and the thinning hair of conservatives would be used in potions. Oh dear God no. Potions that could end a corrupt government that encouraged its citizens to consume-consume-consume and remain dumb-dumb-dumb.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the country's highest civil award. It's given to those individuals who have contributed to security or national interests, world peace, or cultural endeavors. Maybe J.K. Rowlings ability to encourage youth across the globe to step away from the PS3 and actually read isn't worthy of praise. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is more fitting for a former recipient like John Wayne, whose films encouraged the massacre of Native Americans and the uplift of the American West. Yeah, that seems much more fitting and it certainly contributes to national interests.
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.