Deep down, many of us are still waiting for our Hogwarts acceptance letter to whisk us away from our dreary world of decidedly nonmagical cable bills and trips to Supercuts. And sure, it's a world full of danger in which even a child can't take a piss without fighting a giant troll. But, who wouldn't prefer that to life in a cubicle?
However, while Harry Potter's world looks like it would be full of whimsical adventures, once you stop and think about all the oppression, violence, and militant isolationism, it's more like the magical equivalent of North Korea. That's because in the Wizarding World ...
5The Legal System Protects No One
Hidden within the Harry Potter stories is another, possibly cooler story than the one we got: a magical legal drama in which dark wizards use ingenious spells to carry out an ethnic cleansing, and agents of the state try to stop them. The bad guys have invisibility, teleportation, impersonation and mind control at their disposal, while the good guys' investigative methods include mind-reading, memory searches, and the (limited) ability to detect when illicit magic is being used. Hell, there could be volumes written just about how the Wizarding World would handle the rights of the accused. What are their privacy laws? What counts as evidence?
"Witches and wizards, I give you Exhibit A: this glove I just Accio-ed from the accused ... "
Instead, the hodgepodge of guesswork and random whims that make up the Wizarding World's legal system are about as consistent as the rules to that game your older brother used to make up as he went along ("No, my farts are worth 10 points! I have the fart stick!"). For example, when an elf magically threw a cake at his aunt, Harry Potter was almost expelled from Hogwarts for it. That's because although the Ministry Of Magic can instantly tell when an underage wizard performs magic around regular humans, they can't pinpoint the caster. That's like someone getting arrested because a gunshot was heard in his or her neighborhood.
Let's table the fact that humans enslaved the single most powerful species in the Wizarding World.
But, OK, people get nailed based on flimsy evidence in our world, too. But then, there's Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, long considered one of wizardry's most notorious mass-murderers. In reality, Peter Pettigrew (the evil weirdo who pretended to be Ron's pet rat and who presumably saw Ron masturbate countless times) committed the crime Sirius was blamed for. But, it was far from an ingenious frame job, especially considering some of the tools available to the prosecutors.
First, there's the Priori Incantato spell, which is essentially like accessing your browser history -- it shows you the last spell a particular wand was used to cast. At one point, it gets used on Harry's wand and proves that the wand was used to cast an evil spell. But, even that wasn't considered sufficient evidence that he did it. However, the magic police don't even bother using this on Sirius -- the fact that he was present at the scene of the crime was all the evidence they needed to ship him off to prison indefinitely, because, apparently, civil liberties are right up there with human fashion on the list of things wizards don't understand.
Another Black defendant screwed by the system.
Then there's Legilimency, which lets the caster peer into the target's deepest, darkest secrets, and Veritaserum, otherwise known as goddamn truth serum. Either one would've let them know whether Sirius was a murderer or, hell, whether he had ever stolen any coloring books. But, they use precisely neither of those things, for reasons that are never explained. They're apparently not forbidden by their constitution (if they have one, it's probably a sentient, unreadable scroll that flies around the room like a bat), but, even if their use requires consent of the accused, you would think Sirius would have agreed, rather than get shipped off to be tortured by soul-sucking ghouls the rest of his life (yeah, more on that in a moment).
"Ahem ... are you sure we can't change your mind, Sirius?"
"Nah, I don't want to be a bother."
And what about when Hagrid was shipped off to prison for the crime of "kids are being attacked in a way that's similar to attacks you were insubstantially linked to decades ago" (as happened in Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets)? There was no trial; the Minister For Magic just showed up at his house and said, "Pack your giant bags; you're going to Wizard Superjail." No real investigation was ever conducted, presumably because wizard justice operates on the important principle of getting all their business done in time for happy hour.
Although, it's hard to blame them when their workplace looks like a set out of Brazil.
4The Entire Penal System Is Based Around Terror And Pain
As we mentioned above, British wizards only have a single jail, and it's run by indestructible specters of pure darkness who can suck out and eat a person's soul. So, mass murderers apparently go to the same horrifying place as wizards who couldn't pay their broom parking tickets. And you would better make sure all your affairs are in order before you go because -- even if you're lucky enough to get paroled -- you'll probably have 18 types of whatever whimsical bullshit name wizards call PTSD.
Does this look like the face of a well-adjusted person?
Azkaban is in the middle of an ocean, and it makes Guantanamo Bay look like spring break on South Padre Island. Hagrid called his imprisonment one of the worst experiences of his life, and he was only there for a few months. Sirius spent years there, and he came out prone to fits of anger, moodiness, irrational decisions, and bitchiness to house elves.
Dude can't even remember his own godson's name.
The debate about whether a prison should rehabilitate or punish isn't new, but when your only prison is a box manned by demons that does nothing but drive its occupants to violent madness, you would think they'd at least come up with a second option. Azkaban just makes wizard criminals worse -- when Voldemort's gang (the "Death Eaters") escape it, they're even more psychotic than they were when first thrown in.
Congrats, you've created a bunch of Doctor Dooms.
Yeah, speaking of psychosis ... what happens to you if you have a mental illness in that world? They have all sorts of whimsical cures for when you break a bone or get a nasty cut, but there is no mention at all of magical cures for people whose brains don't work right. So, if you're somebody who commits crimes due to a mood disorder, substance abuse, or outright delusions, good luck! You'll need to work through your issues in a dank cell surrounded by a howling army of Grim Reapers. That should fix your bipolar disorder, right?
That's the thing: The books portray the Wizarding World as a quaint society that operates in parallel to our own, kind of like the Amish. But, we wouldn't let the Amish run their own magical torture prisons, would we? Here's where you start to think that maybe it's time for us nonmagical folk ("Muggles") to intervene. After all ...