Lesson Four
'Current' Dilemmas

'Current' Wizarding Dilemmas

This lesson will cover the wizarding dilemmas that occured in the past two decades or were only taken into serious debate in the past few years. We will talk about serious issues that concern the whole wizarding community in Britain, if not the world. 

In the second lesson, we learned about the Ministry of Magic. From the structure, we have seen that there are few aspects of the magical world that the Ministry does not control.

Even the most anti-Ministry of Magic cannot deny that it has an incredible amount of power. However, they do not employ a lot of ways to ensure it is used properly. Some people say that this lack of control on the Ministry is what actually makes it so easy to infiltrate by the Dark Wizards and Witches and take over without the wizarding community realising and taking proper action against it. Of course, that does not mean that the Ministry's leaders are only victims, as they are guilty of quite a few breaches on basic wizarding (and Muggle) rights, the most recognizable being freedom of speech, especially during the Second Wizarding War. 

Many Muggle States have freedom of speech written in their most imporant laws. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, there seems to be hardly a constitution, human rights Act or international agreement on human rights that does not fiercely protect freedom of expression. Not only is that the foundation of democracy, but it is also a way to make the voices of all people, not just the ruling class, heard. Sure, there are some limits to it, mostly for national security, to prevent criminal acts, but these limits are strictly monitored by constitutional or international courts and the people themselves. 

First, we will touch upon the issue of The Daily Prophet. It is the wizarding daily newspaper, and considered to be the only newspaper worth reading. Beside the daily morning issue, there is also The Evening Prophet, which, as the name states, is the evening edition and The Sunday Prophet, a weekend edition. Its cost varies, from one to five knuts. You would expect that a large newspaper such as this would do their best to remain impartial, however, The Prophet seems to publish the Ministry of Magic's official line, rather than anything that would be considered controversial. It appears that The Daily Prophet holds a monopoly, so that any dissenting views have no other choice but to be published in magazines like The Quibbler, where, most of the time, they are not even taken seriously.

So it is very important that the wizarding world needs a contrast to The Daily Prophet. Different political views need to be represented in the world, so that it is ensured that there is proper scrutiny of government. The paper itself is also under great control of the Ministry of Magic, which makes it harder to publicly contradict the Ministry if the most well-known paper is being censored. Harry Potter's only option during the time of the Second Wizarding War was to turn to The Quibbler, which was immediately banned in Hogwarts by the Hogwarts High Inquisitor, with the students, who had the copy of said issue, being horribly punished.

It often seems that the Ministry simply decides what it is going to do in near secrecy and then presents it to the people, which makes it easy for things to go horribly wrong in short amount of time. Prime example of this is The Muggle-Born Registration Commission, whose public goal was to force all Muggle-born wizards and witches to register with the Ministry, then undergo humiliating interrogation with the presence of Dementors. There are a lot of Muggleborn and Half-blood witches and wizards, a fact often point out by diminishing purebloods, so it seems that the Muggle-Born Registration Commission should not have come into place so very easily if there had been a way to oppose or block the initiative publicly. Wizarding world does not have political parties, which can argue about new policies, so even the simplest decision is out of the hands of the people. Instead, all legislation is left to the Ministry, and even individual members of specific Departments. One prime example is the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Act, which was solely written by Arthur Weasley. He even confeses that he put in a loophole specifically designed to allow him to perform magic on his car.

We already touched upon the Wizengamot in the first lesson. Those who read it and those who have just a smidge of common sense can see, that there is a problem with due process (or lack thereof) in the wizarding world.

When a state government acts illegally or makes a mistake, first point on the agenda is to call the courts, whose job is to dispense criminal justice fairly and consistently. The courts should be impartial, no matter who is on the stand, an individual or the government. The magical world's judiciary power, the Wizengamot's very important proceedings, or those that concern the magical government, are presided by the Minister of Magic, which actually violates the principle of the separation of powers of the state (judiciary, legislative and executive). 

Dispension of justice does not seem to be the same for everyone. While one can understand that sometimes witches and wizards make a deal for a lighter sentence, an occurrence common enough even in the Muggle world, sometimes people's crimes are completely ignored if their information or actions please the Ministry of Magic. Even the rules on having a Wizengamot trial differ from case to case. It is a common consensus that trials before the Wizengamot are only for the most horrible crimes committed by witches and wizards. However, when Harry Potter performs a Patronus Charm in the presence of a Muggle, he is called before the Wizegamot, even though he acted in self-defense, an exception covered by International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy. There he has no opportunity for legal counsel, though someone comes to represent him. Otherwise, without any legal know-how, he would have been left to the (were)wolves.

The wizarding world is not a good place to be different, there is hardly any equality for non-humans or even non-pureblood, and a lot of prejudice. Centaurs, house elves, werewolves, goblins and Muggleborns are just some of the groups who we see are treated as second-class citizens or just as common animals by some parts of wizarding society. 

Law can only do so much in this area. While states can outlaw discrimination, it does not stop people from discriminating. However, laws can protect minorities and are a starting point in the process of changing the general attitude of the people. In a complete contrast, the Ministry of Magic bans non-human magical creatures from carrying wands, such as goblins or centaurs, allows the enslavement of house-elves for generations and ignores strife of wizards who face prejudices due to being bitten by a werewolf, or even actively enforces Anti-Werewolf Legislation. In the past few years, many of the laws regarding open or hidden prejudice against aforementioned beings were either completely abolished or are in a state of appeal.

The lack of support from the Ministry for any sort of rights for non-human magical creatures stands in contrast to really quite progressive equality laws we see worldwide now. The Ministry, as well as general attitude of the wizarding people, needs serious change, which is very slowly coming into effect after the fall of Lord Voldemort.

Sources

  • The Politics of Harry Potter: Corrupt Law and Totalitarian Government by Samantha Love
  • Abolish the Ministry of Magic by Mate Hajba
  • Harry Potter and the Millennials: Research Methods and the Politics of the Muggle Generation by Anthony Gierzynski
  • The Politics of Harry Potter by Bethany Barratt
  • Harry's World: An Exploration of J.K. Rowling's Social and Political Agenda in the Harry Potter Series by Erin Vollmer
  • http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Daily_Prophet
  • http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Anti-werewolf_legislation
  • http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Muggle-Born_Registration_Commission