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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to the book's author, Matthew Latimer, J.K. Rowling's name was once in consideration for a presidential medal but was rescinded because the books "encouraged witchcraft."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

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626 Points

Boo to Bush, not a fan!

Posted by AutumnWizard *ROAR* on September 25, 2009, 01:17 PM report to moderator
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625 Points

looool sure sure…. But one thing is for sure: guns lead to war and they are being made all the time!

Posted by humbert0 on September 25, 2009, 01:44 PM report to moderator
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I agree with eiVega. Award winners are chosen by committee and then given to the chief of staff and president for final approval. I would bet, since both former president bush and his wife and most likely their daughters enjoyed the books, JK would have been approved if it were a direct decision. Whoever it was with an alternative agenda was on the committee and JK never got to the final list.

Posted by Xyra44 on September 25, 2009, 04:39 PM report to moderator
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2661 Points

That’s the Bush Administration for you.

Posted by Wingardium Leviosa ❄WBM❄ on September 25, 2009, 05:40 PM report to moderator
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1661 Points

WHOA WHOA WHOA!!! I’m too pissed even to comprehend this! WTF?!! That’s okay. It’s no secret some of the people running our country are DUMB!…or at least they used to be. So this is not a surprise at all. At least the current president can recognize a brilliant book series and WOMAN when he sees one!

Posted by cghambright on September 25, 2009, 05:44 PM report to moderator
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1661 Points

@loonymoonyy: WHY in the world would you mention twilight?!! it has nothing to do with this…I can only hope you meant Harry Potter.

Posted by cghambright on September 25, 2009, 05:45 PM report to moderator
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“However, may I ask all of my fellow HP fans to read Leaky’s original news articles (not just this one, but any that are posted!) closely before sharing their thoughts? Too often there is a huge disconnect between the information in the articles and the responses some of you are hastily sharing.” —Posted by budb

I agree budb, geez, some people are so thick. It clearly states in the article that JK Rowling refused to give a medal to Bush’s speechwriter because she thought he was promoting witchcraft. How much clearer can it get? : )

Posted by Mimblewimble13 on September 25, 2009, 07:32 PM report to moderator
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1245 Points

I though including a link to purchase that book was amusing. Maybe President Obama will rectify that incredibly ignorant error.

Posted by dcsbelle [WBM] OOM3, CW on September 25, 2009, 09:04 PM report to moderator
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1245 Points

I have to agree with budb that passing over Sen. Kennedy for the medal was more of an egregious error than bypassing Jo. He spent his entire adult life working on behalf of the people in the US.

Posted by dcsbelle [WBM] OOM3, CW on September 25, 2009, 09:13 PM report to moderator
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dcsbelle and mimlewimble13, its always nice to see that some do actually read the postings….and mimble has perfectly captured the issue! good one!

Posted by budb on September 25, 2009, 10:12 PM report to moderator
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239 Points

Oh my gosh!
Who cares!
That’s so stupid!

Posted by gemini_black on September 25, 2009, 10:31 PM report to moderator
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433 Points

budb, good to see you. Hope you’re well. I agree that the most shocking part of that paragraph had nothing to do with Harry Potter. Nice point. In terms of my original post, I should not have said Leaky posted this as “fact.” I misspoke. As Melissa pointed out, it does say “rumor” in the headlines. However, I still feel this was an offhanded comment made by the author, not something that the author intended or expected to defend. I’m just surprised to see a random line in a book on the front page of Leaky. Yes it is surprising (well not really: it’s the Bush administration for goodness sakes), but I would hope there was more substance to it before being posted.

…but, when it comes down to it, I don’t run Leaky. Melissa, Sue and the crew are perfectly entitled to post whatever they want how they want.

Posted by mollywobble on September 25, 2009, 11:02 PM report to moderator
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23113 Points
Stupidity at its finest… The George W. Bush Administration
Posted by oldenoughtoknowbetter♎ROAR♎OoM1, CW on September 26, 2009, 03:12 AM report to moderator
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4608 Points

That’s a very lame reason and a false one at that.

Posted by Boy With A Lightning Scar on September 26, 2009, 06:23 AM report to moderator
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846 Points

Whats? Of course, Jo has loads of medals/honors already, but that’s because she deserves them! Harry doesn’t encourage witchcraft, it encourages the practical use of science in daily life!

Posted by Olivia [Phoenix] WBM! on September 26, 2009, 08:12 AM report to moderator
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