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The Daily Prophet - Slavery: justice or abuse?

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The Daily Prophet
12th February 2000

Slavery: justice or abuse?
Should there be more regulation on the treatment of slaves?
Extra: the true identity of Lord V- revealed!

by Bridget Jones

Harry Potter. Known by many titles: the Boy-who-Lived; the Man-who-Conquered; the Saviour; Undesirable No.1. One, however, that may be unexpected for many of our readers is this: slave-owner. Yes, Mr Potter (19) is the owner of not one, but two slaves. Having discovered this intriguing fact, this reporter decided to discover what lay behind it. Being granted an exclusive interview with the man himself, I went to his house to find out what lay behind his decision to bring two slaves into his household.

Upon entering the interview room, I immediately saw the two slaves kneeling on either side of the chair which their master would take (see fig.1). One pale-haired – the person once known as Draco Malfoy – and the other dark – once known as Tom Riddle – they were a study in contrasts. In behaviour, too, this impression was continued. Throughout the interview, where Tom was obediently still, but clearly responsive to his master’s cues, ‘Draco’ was completely still and silent; the only time he moved was when his master lifted his chin to show me his blank expression and lifeless eyes.

The reason for this became clear. “He was broken,” explained Mr Potter. The purpose of his presence in Mr Potter’s household was made plain: after his previous master was taken into custody on serious criminal charges, Draco was confiscated by the Ministry and given to Mr Potter for his final few weeks of slavery (see fig. 2 and fig. 3 for pictures of the slave at confiscation and present day). Why Mr Potter? Because of his excellent record with his original slave ‘Tom’; more on this, and Tom’s more well-known identity later. Arriving in Mr Potter’s household, the depth of Draco’s trauma became obvious. Apparently, he has barely spoken since his arrival, and those words have only been to express acknowledgement of orders and apologise. On being taken into custody by the Aurors, the injuries carried by the slave were imminently life-threatening, requiring immediate medical treatment. The cause of these injuries? Rape and torture. Mr Potter, however, corrected my use of the word ‘rape’: “Under the current system, slaves are designated as objects, not as thinking or feeling beings. Thus, they cannot be ‘raped’.”

Shocked at his seemingly callous statement, I immediately questioned whether he supported this. His response was intriguing. “I completely agree about the punishment aspect – these people worked to hurt and oppress others.” He also stated that he would not wish to dictate to others how to treat their property, not wishing similar dictates made to him. However, he went on to add that he did not agree with abuse. He explained that he felt that the system currently overseeing the treatment of slaves was not sufficiently nuanced, allowing those who had committed the least crimes in the war to suffer the same as, or more than, those who had committed the worst crimes. Upon questioning, he revealed his views towards the purposes of the slavery: “Punishment…and reformation. And it is the latter which I feel may be being missed.”

In a rather prosaic statement, he outlined why he held these views, and the reason was not something I had expected from someone known to be a champion of truth and freedom. “To me, it’s not just the injustice which is terrible, but also the waste.” Going on to explain, he talked about how when abused slaves like Draco reached their release date, they would be incapable of managing day-to-day life without support; they would be unable to contribute to society, and would instead be a drain on our resources. He explained that although they had been rivals at school, he had still recognised Draco’s skill in brewing. “After a suitable punishment for his actions and choices during the war, he could have been of great benefit to our society. Now, the chances of that happening are…much reduced.” 

More surprises were to come, however, as this reporter questioned whether, especially with the more hardened Death Eaters, it was possible to meet the aims of reformation and punishment without skirting the line of abuse. His response was something I had not remotely suspected. Most people know that Lord V- was not the original name of the man who so recently terrorised our society. What is not so well-known is the original name of this psychopath. Upon a demonstration, I was able to see that ‘I am Lord V-“ is in fact an anagram of ‘Tom Marvolo Riddle’, the very man kneeling so docilely at Mr Potter’s feet.

It must be admitted that this reporter found this fact very discomforting – and the sight of the former dark lord cleaning up my spilled cup of tea, disconcerting. However, the truth of Mr Potter’s words seems to be proved: upon being ordered to answer honestly, Tom admitted that he had seen the error of his ways. In all ways a contrast from Draco, it was clear that this slave was not broken, but perhaps truly reformed. I was able to question the slave with permission from his master, and asked him why he had changed his perspective. As with much of the interview to that point, his response was unexpected: “[B]ecause he’s been so much kinder to me than I thought…than I would have behaved in his place…it’s made me think. It’s made me realise where I went wrong.” Mr Potter later reiterated this point: “[S]ometimes a small bit of kindness or understanding at the right moment does more than a world of pain.”

Readers must not fear the potential of the Dark Lord reappearing on the scene, however, whether Tom is truly reformed or not: Mr Potter explained that, unlike all others under the sentence of slavery, the duration of Tom’s punishment was indefinite and would only end with his death. This reporter does have to admit to both relief and unease at this fact: relief that there is no possibility of the return of Lord V, but unease at the idea that had Mr Potter been someone else, Tom might have found himself being abused without any hope of release. However, even Mr Potter’s motivation for having Tom as a slave in the first place was revealed to not be because of a desire from revenge: he did not buy Tom; the Ministry gave the former dark lord to him. Apparently, due to the prophecy between them, which Mr Potter confirms existed, Tom’s collar does not respond to anyone else, meaning that it truly is a life-long bond for both of them.

Mr Potter ended the topic with an interesting question: “[I]f Tom, the slave who used to be the Dark Lord Voldemort, the architect of two wars that killed hundreds and left thousands fearful, doesn’t deserve [rape and abuse], who does?”

Finishing off the interview, I asked Mr Potter about what he would like to see happen in regards to the slaves, given that he clearly did not object in principle to slavery. He explained: “What I would like to see is more oversight from the Ministry on appropriate punishment, and more guidance on ways of reformation which do not require breaking the spirit or the mind of the slave in question…” This was obviously taken from his experience with Tom, and his realisation that it wasn’t necessary to use significant amounts of pain to achieve what he sees as the objectives of the slavery sentences. Continuing with a second objective, he said: “…I would like to see…some sort of course which will enable the people to come to terms with both their crimes and their slavery, and relearn how to enter society in a beneficial way.”

Given the numerous surprises which were revealed in the course of this interview, this reporter has to admit to agreeing with Mr Potter. Surprisingly, of the two slaves, it is the former dark lord who this reporter would see as more beneficial to our society were he to be released.