Open Letter – Negative feedback on Harry Potter movie

We are presenting here an OPEN LETTER obtained from Annie Bradberry – ISA secretary and refined by Mark Irwin – ISA chair on Harry Potter movie. ISA member associations are kindly requested to alter it as required and send it on their letterhead to as many newspapers in their country as possible. (through their regional groups?)

To editor of …………………. Newspaper

I wish to draw to your attention negative feedback our association has received from parents and children who have seen the current movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”. Accordingly I wish the following letter to be published in your newspaper.

Further information can be obtained from the International Stuttering Association through its spokes person Jaan Pill of Canada (jpill@interlog.com) and web site http:www.stutterisa.org

OPEN LETTER to J.K. Rowling (Author of Harry Potter stories)

Dear Ms Rowling;

The Harry Potter books, and now the first Harry Potter movie, are enchanting millions of children. Children who stutter, however, are coming away from the movie hurt, humiliated and angry because of the portrayal of the stuttering Professor Quirrell.

Professor Quirrell is a weak character whose stutter marks him as ineffectual, insecure and harmless. It’s the oldest stereotype around and it’s completely false. It’s particularly disappointing to see an otherwise imaginative work as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” cut corners with this hackneyed formula.

Stuttering is not an emotional problem or nervous disorder. Current research suggests a connection between stuttering and neurological coordination of the speech mechanism. For children struggling to come to terms with their stuttering, this common misunderstanding — that stuttering is a symptom of emotional problems or weakness of character — is a source of daily frustration.

Harry Potter is not the first book or movie to portray people who stutter negatively, of course. Most adults who stutter have developed a thick skin about this kind of prejudice, but children are especially vulnerable. The presence of this hurtful stereotype in a popular movie means that children who stutter will be teased by kids and misunderstood by adults more than ever. The National Stuttering Association began getting calls from parents shortly after the Harry Potter movie was released and we expect many more as the movie runs its course.

I am sure you did not intend to hurt children who stutter when you wrote the book. But wouldn’t it have been great if the power of this magical story had been used to promote understanding of kids who are different instead of perpetuating a false stereotype? We hope you will consider using stuttering in a future Harry Potter book to make one of your characters more interesting and realistic.

Sincerely,

Signature Insert Name (On behalf of (insert your organization’s name) and the International Stuttering Association)

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