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Harry Potter has nothing on Dorothy Gale.

L. Frank Baum’s THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ was first published in 1900 and has been the subject of controversy at various times ever since.

Everyone knows the story. A tornado takes Dorothy in her home to the land of Oz, where she encounters any number of fantastic creatures on the way to the Emerald City to see the Wizard and find a way home.Unlike the movie based on the first book, it wasn’t a dream. All real. An American fairy tale.

Back then, ministers and educators  strongly derided it for it’s ungodly influence and strong depiction of  female characters. They wanted it kept out of the hands of, not just children, but anyone. As late as 1928, Chicago barred the books from public library shelves.

During the 1950s. Florida’s state librarian, Dorothy Dodd, said the Oz books were unwholesome for children and urged that they not be purchased and circulated in the state’s libraries.

In 1986, a ban was sought in Tennessee because it had good witches and everyone knows “all witches are bad.” When the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, lawyers for those bringing the suit urged all God-fearing Christians to remove their children from public schools.

I remember seeing something on the news about that time; I’m not exactly sure it was the same case though. I just remember watching a young mother  in Tennessee on the news wanting the book removed because it “taught children to be self-reliant and not depend on God to get them through.”

I was astounded. Is that what you want your children to be, I thought, just stumbling along waiting on God and not doing anything for themselves. What does the Good Book say? God helps those who help themselves. I could not believe the idiocy of people like that. Still can’t.

And it’s still happening. In 2004, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson conspired to get showings of the movie The Wizard of Oz banned from broadcast TV. Their reason, moral turpitude. Flying monkeys and witches were an affront to all good Christians. Asked how he knew, Robertson replied, “The Almighty told me.”

When asked if they had ever seen the movie, both denied it, saying they feared ungodly influence. This from the same people that have accused The Teletubbies and Sponge Bob Squarepants of being gay. It must be terrible to live such scared lives that such harmless things seem “devilish” to them.

How a book series like Oz can cause such vehemence in people I can never understand. Yes, there are witches, magic, and flying monkeys in the story. But they are fun little reads and, as in the Harry Potter books, the good guys always come out on top. The critics never seem to get that.

If these people don’t want to read them, or any other book for that matter, that’s their business. Just leave them for the rest of us that want to stretch our minds a bit.

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