Harry Potter Reddit Decides to Ban Posts Relating to Politics

J.K. Rowling’s Dolores Umbridge would probably appreciate this one. A subreddit devoted to Harry Potter has decided to ban all talk of politics, at least for the time being. The reason? The fights that ensue are too hard to moderate.

Yesterday r/harrypotter/ moderators posted an announcement:

The mods of r/harrypotter have debated taking an official stance on political posts related to the recent election and inauguration in the US, but we were hoping that the politics would die down over the last few weeks so that our little corner of the internet could return to being a place of love and kindness.

However, you’ve all seen our top posts over the last few weeks.

THEREFORE, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, THE MODS AT R/HARRYPOTTER ARE BANNING POSTS ABOUT CURRENT POLITICS, INCLUDING MEMES AND DISCUSSION POSTS COMPARING MODERN POLITICAL FIGURES TO CHARACTERS IN THE SERIES.

We are not banning the discussion of politics within the series–that is and has always been fair game.

We have changed Rule 2 to reflect this change. Please help us keep the political nastiness out of our sub by reporting posts and comments using the appropriate rule, and please try your best not to feed the trolls.

HP is, at it’s core, about love. We want our sub to reflect that as much as possible.
Feel free to ask clarifying questions below, but please note that this decision is final.

I don’t frequent this reddit but I have noticed that during the last Presidential campaign and beyond, nerdy-types had been using pop culture references to make fun of, and even come to terms with, what’s happening. Some appreciated the levity while others felt it was unnecessary and reductive.

Checking out their top posts of the last week I see things like “How a Hufflepuff protests” and “Melania is from Beauxbatons” listed under “mildly related.” I don’t know if others had been deleted or just how many they get on a regular basis. It’s also unclear if most of the political posts were coming from regular r/harrypotter users or other reddit users posting there because they felt it was the appropriate spot. For their part, the moderators say:

There are plenty of places on reddit where political discussion is encouraged. This simply isn’t going to be one of them, at least for the time being. That’s the consistent feedback we’ve gotten from users in the ongoing census, and it’s something we had been considering for about seven months now.

And the feedback on the post seems fairly supportive of the decision as well with one user saying they use the subreddit to “keep away from those discussions.” But there were several users who felt it was a really bad call, especially considering the current political climate and the lessons from Rowling’s books. One wrote:

Banning people from discussing things is always a bad sign, whatever justification is given, and the one given here is weak sauce. It’s like shutting out reality.

Let the people discuss what they like, saying it’s not what the sub is for is pretentious, most reddit content is outdated in a day or so, don’t be so worried about what amounts to words on the Internet.

Potter doesn’t pretend danger isn’t present, he fought it head on.

Another wrote:

Oh what a load of bullshit. This is probably the least Potteresque thing to happen in this sub, and it’s honestly an insult to JKR and the world she’s created.

Harry Potter isn’t just about some arbitrary notion of “love and kindness,” it’s fundamentally about justice and equality, and fighting for those things in the face of apathetic and even antagonistic masses, and speaking truth to power even when it makes other people uncomfortable. Stop pretending that HP’s politics exist in a vacuum. They don’t. There are obvious, sincere, and important parallels to real-life politics in the books, most obviously to nationalism, racism, autocracy, and fascism. Those same forces are developing in Europe and the United States right now, which makes those elements of the novels extremely relevant and instructive to the moral choices in front of us right now. We should be free to discuss those issues and choices as long as we can do it respectfully.

The mods are supposed to be here to check shit like doxxing and hate speech, and run weekly polls and themes, not to censor highly relevant political discourse. Shame on you.

I can understand both sides here. On one hand, there is a lot going on in the world right now and escape is necessary once in a while for mental health. But a larger discussion about politics and art recently reminds us politics are intrinsic to many of our favorite fictional works. Of course there’s “other places” to discuss politics but when you want to discuss politics as they relate to Rowling’s work, where are you supposed to go? One user mentioned this specifically saying “So, where else am I supposed to use my knowledge of the world of Harry Potter to process what is going on in the world today? People do this with all kinds of literature all. the. time.”

As someone who’s had to moderate communities that were often infiltrated by the worst sort, I do feel for the moderator who writes, “What may start out as simply a discussion or meme, can roll into a heated mess real quick.” Moderation isn’t easy and of course, you should moderate your house as you see fit and do what’s best for your audience. But as a Potter fan myself and someone very concerned about the world I’d be remiss if I didn’t share this famous quote from Professor Albus Dumbledore, “Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”

(via Bustle)

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  • Ag507

    I prefer to debate politics on a debating site such as DebateIsland, instead of reddit.
    There is a debate about it
    http://www.debateisland.com/discussion/574/reddit-politics-is-reddit-politics-good-for-online-debating

  • WheelchairNinja

    There’s a reason you’re not supposed to talk about sex, politics, or religion in polite company. If the conversation can stay civil it’s great, but it’s waaaaaaaaaay too easy for people to get offended and have the whole thing spiral into a shouting match. I absolutely understand the mods banning it—or like SeventhBeacon said, moving it to its own subreddit.

    • In my experience, social media has been a really bad place to deal with politics. People show up and want to rant their opinion about something and only want to hear their confirmation bias agreeing with them, and go *immediately* hostile to anyone with a different POV. There’s no interest in *listening*, only shouting. And for some reason, online, people seem to have no compulsion to stay civil about it.

      It also doesn’t help that we can’t hear tone or nuance in the written word. So someone might read, for instance, anger into the tone of my first post on this page, rather than strident with a tired, exhausted tone, which was what I was feeling when I typed it.

      It inevitably spirals downward into a game of who can shout loudest or be most offended.

      There are exceptions to this, but they are definitely the exception to the rule.

  • Good. I hate when my escapist fun is ruined by the increasingly vile tone of political rhetoric, which has no place invading these places.

    • And it’s not like there aren’t places where the political discussions can be held, which they pointed out. Potterverse is for the fandom to come together, not split itself apart because of political differences. Let these geek shrines be someplace people can come together, and with any luck, they can discuss things elsewhere and seek what common ground there is to be found.

      At the worst, someone could just make a “Potter Politics” subreddit where people use the metaphors of the books and expanding universe to address current political issues.