Ex-Postmaster Says USPS Harry Potter Stamps Are a Form of Prostitution


Today in Things You Really Need to Know: Stamp advisory committee people are not to be fucked with.

Benjamin F. Bailar, who served as the Postmaster General from 1975 to 1978, is righteously pissed about the selection of Harry Potter to adorn a collection of new stamps. According to The Washingon Post, Bailor resigned from the Citizen’s Advisory Stamp Committee over a dispute within the stamp community about the use of popular figures and characters to help boost sales for the financially struggling U.S. Post Office.

Before I get into this guy’s issue with Harry Potter, let’s first talk about the fact that there is a Citizens’ Advisory Stamp Committee. COOL.

The committee, which includes historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a top Smithsonian official, a former Olympian and other prominent Americans who are flown to Washington for quarterly meetings, has chosen stamp subjects for more than half a century.

That sounds pretty prestigious! I think if you were picked to serve on this committe, you confidentially tell your mother to stop telling you how you would have been “such a good lawyer or doctor, if only your grades were better and you didn’t have all those petty larceny arrests your senior year” because now she can finally be proud of you. I MADE THE STAMP COMMITTEE, MOM. TOP OF THE WORLD!

Except someone didn’t even bother to consult this remarkable group of stamp analyzing minds before choosing to put Harry Potter on the face of something you pay an astronomical amount of money for just so you can slap it on a few Christmas cards to the few relatives relatives you have left who don’t have email and can’t get e-cards. Bailor penned a letter to protest the selection of everyone’s favorite, adorable boy wizard:

“The stamp program should celebrate the things that are great about the United States and serve as a medium to communicate those things to a world-wide audience,” Bailar wrote in his letter to [Postmaster General Patrick] Donahoe on July 23, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. “To prostitute that goal in the pursuit of possibly illusory profits does not make sense to me.”

Well, maybe don’t break your arm twisting around to pat yourself on the back, Stamp Committee peeps. Don’t forget Public Enemy’s take on who we in America decide to honor with a thing you stick on your mail:

Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps,
Sample a look back you look and find
Nothing but rednecks for 400 years if you check
“While they may support a drive to ‘sell the product’ with abundance of pretty and popular culture subjects, the result is a program that lacks gravitas,” Bailar wrote. He suggested that the stamp panel be abolished, “given the apparent desire of the [Postal Service] to commercialize the stamp program.”
“Certainly the USPS does not need an expensive committee to know what will sell.”

The Citizens’ Advisory Stamp Committee Chairwoman Janet Klug, said Bailar is “a great guy,” “outstanding [stamp] collector” and is really going to be missed.” It’s ironic, because the same exact thing could be said about Harry Potter. Except I have no idea if he was really that into stamps or not.

Image via AP Images.

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