Remember the Tinky Winky controversy? In 1997 Jerry Fallwell made the accusation that the Teletubby was gay and a poor role model for children. This was because he is purple and carries a purse. I'm not joking.
This type of thinking is thriving under the current regime. Mark Morford just wrote a very funny column about conservative Christian groups accusing the makers of a SpongeBob SquarePants video of promoting homosexuality to children. (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/gate/archive/2005/01/26/notes012605.DTL)
And it continues - on Tuesday, Bushco's new Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, denounced PBS for using public money to create a cartoon episode that includes lesbian characters.
Buster, the little rabbit friend of Arthur the aardvark, on the long running educational PBS show "Arthur" now has his own show, "Postcards from Buster". Buster travels around meeting kids from different cultural backgrounds and doing the things that kids do. One of the families that Buster visits is a same gender family in Hinesburg, Vermont. One mom has 2 kids and the other mom has adopted a Child. The kids are around 10 and 12 years old, and are typical, out-doorsy, well-adjusted kids. It was supposed to air on Feb. 2.
Spellings wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Pat Mitchell, president and chief executive officer of PBS -- "Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode. Congress' and the Department's purpose in funding this programming certainly was not to introduce this kind of subject matter to children, particularly through the powerful and intimate medium of television."
And guess what, PBS caved.
A PBS spokesman said late Tuesday that the nonprofit network has decided not to distribute the episode, called "Sugartime!," to its 349 stations. "Ultimately, our decision was based on the fact that we recognize this is a sensitive issue, and we wanted to make sure that parents had an opportunity to introduce this subject to their children in their own time," said Lea Sloan, vice president of media relations at PBS. She said the Education Department's objections were not a factor in that decision.
Marc Brown, creator of "Arthur" and "Postcards From Buster," said in a statement: "I am disappointed by PBS's decision not to distribute the 'Postcards From Buster' 'Sugartime!' episode to public television stations. What we are trying to do in the series is connect kids with other kids by reflecting their lives. In some episodes, as in the Vermont one, we are validating children who are seldom validated. We believe that 'Postcards From Buster' does this in a very natural way - and, as always, from the point of view of children."
Jeanne Hopkins, a spokeswoman for the show's producer, WGBH-TV of Boston, added, "We feel it's important that we not exclude kids because of what their family structure looks like."
WGBH plans to broadcast the episode in March and offer it to other PBS stations. Stations will decide whether to run the episode after previewing it in the next few days.
If you live in LA contact KCET and ask them to air it: http://www.kcet.org/about/contactus.php
If you live else where, use this to find local contact info: http://www.pbs.org/stationfinder/index.html
Contact PBS and tell them they are wimps: http://www.pbs.org/aboutsite/aboutsite_feedback.html
Postcards from Buster website: http://pbskids.org/buster/
Online Poll -- support airing the episode: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6869976/