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Book Rumor: Bush administration denied J.K. Rowling medal because Harry Potter books "encouraged witchcraft"

J.K. Rowling
Posted by: Melissa
September 24, 2009, 02:25 PM

The new book SPEECH-LESS: Tales of a White House Survivor, a behind-the-scenes account of life in the George W. Bush presidential administration (published by Crown Books), has an interesting nugget for Harry Potter fans, as a reader has pointed out: according to the book's author, Matthew Latimer, J.K. Rowling's name was once in consideration for a presidential medal but was rescinded because the books "encouraged witchcraft." The relevant text is on page 201 of the book and reads:


[President Bush's chief speechwriter] Marc [Thiessen] liked to encourage a broad range of opinions from others, so long as theirs agreed with his. When Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I suggested that the president might at least consider awarding Kennedy the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Marc objected with the genteel diplomacy he was known for. 'That's crazy!' he thundered. ...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.

George W. Bush served as president of the United States from January 2001 to January 2009. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." It is not always given to an American: during the Bush administration, presidential medal recipients included former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

During the Bush administration, the president and his wife, First Lady Laura Bush, were very vocal about their like for the Harry Potter books; Laura Bush called them her "favorite": "It was like finding a great mystery writer and having that whole body of work to read at once. I really loved them," she said.

You can purchase the book here.


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186 Comments

Baron_haru___shall_we_dance____by_jasminealexandra_thumb
180 Points

yea i agree that was stupid

Posted by Ganduean-Vampiress on September 24, 2009, 04:50 PM report to moderator
Me_thumb
428 Points

If GWB really said that, he is really a dumb ass.. he doesnt know what he is saying…

Posted by alegria35 on September 24, 2009, 04:53 PM report to moderator
Bokorm_-p_thumb
355 Points

Stupidest thing I’ve heard in a long time. And I hear a lot of stupid things.

Posted by Lisbry on September 24, 2009, 04:53 PM report to moderator
36890_1211841555528_1813459374_409631_4739129_n_thumb
362 Points

i thought his stupidity would be gone when he was done playing president…………….. guess i was wrong

Posted by lexuslovesweasleys on September 24, 2009, 05:02 PM report to moderator
Mac3_thumb
1925 Points

and people ask me why i never liked the bush administration!!! i bet obama will give her the award!

Posted by Parkinsonpansy on September 24, 2009, 05:03 PM report to moderator
Rofr10_thumb

I agree with Kirk. If there is any truth in this report, it is more likely that some White House people were reluctant to consider JKR for the medal because of how such an award might have been seen by Bush’s supporters amongst the Fundamentalist Christians rather than by any actual belief that the books encouraged witchcraft. Note that the book doesn’t actually say that the issue was a significant factor in any decision, how senior people with such views were nor how widespread those views were.

Posted by roonwit on September 24, 2009, 05:05 PM report to moderator
Capture10_thumb
16258 Points

how dumb. she shouldve gotten the medal. “the harry potter books encourage witchcraft” what a load of rubbish!!!!! Merlins beard!!! haha :D

Posted by Gryffindor1991 {ROAR!!!} on September 24, 2009, 05:14 PM report to moderator
Upclose_of_me_thumb
3271 Points

All this is just plain STUPID! Sorry but I’m not one who clearly believes everything she reads about stuff like this…..

Posted by Half-Blood Princess66[ROAR!] on September 24, 2009, 05:15 PM report to moderator
Wand_thumb
4852 Points

tsk tsk tsk. :(

Posted by #1 Witch ROAR! on September 24, 2009, 05:18 PM report to moderator
Imgres_1__thumb
654 Points

She deserves the medal. I mean, come on Bush even though HP has become a religion, that’s no reason to shun JKR because her book is about wizards! I suppose that if Bush had the chance he would also not give Rick Riordan a medal because the Percy Jackson series shows worship in different religons or gods. That’s stupid and pointless. I hope Obama gives it to her.

Posted by mjkalldaway (ROAR) on September 24, 2009, 05:18 PM report to moderator
Hagrid_thumb
165 Points

The awards J. K. does have far outweigh a possible Presidential medal that may or may not have been considered for her anyway.

Posted by biiigbob on September 24, 2009, 05:43 PM report to moderator
Mr_bean__thumb
5180 Points

wow they’re dumb.

Posted by hermionenluna TZS ROAR! on September 24, 2009, 05:57 PM report to moderator
Harry_potter__2__professor_sprout_slughorn_mcgonagall_flitwick_cartoon_thumb
184 Points

That’s stupid.
I don’t think the Harry Potter books encourage witchcraft.
There’s no way that we’ll be able to do those abilities.

Posted by NipintheAir on September 24, 2009, 06:09 PM report to moderator
Noavatar-thumb
179 Points

all i can say is ignorance.. and bigotry. And yes, you DO actually have to read the books before passing judgement.

Posted by Lisee_Lu on September 24, 2009, 06:11 PM report to moderator
Thecave_thumb
433 Points

I have to agree with several other posters. Even though I strongly disapproved of the Bush Administration (hardcore liberal here), I don’t think we should take this statement as fact. I don’t believe the author even intended it to be shared as a fact. It reads more like an offhanded comment. We don’t know who he is referring to, whether he actually heard it himself, or if its hearsay. Kind of surprised a random comment in a book would get posted as “fact” here on Leaky.

Posted by mollywobble on September 24, 2009, 06:14 PM report to moderator
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