Opinion: Maple sugaring

By Eric Naing

PBS is responsible for bringing us some of the gayest characters to ever grace our television sets (and no, I am not referring to the fine folks at Masterpiece Theater). From Bert and Ernie to the Chief on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, these obviously homosexual characters have been teaching children life lessons for years. But apparently PBS crossed the line when they decided to show real-life lesbians in one of their children’s shows.

PBS recently shelved an upcoming episode of the cartoon Postcards from Buster amid controversy over its allegedly inappropriate content. In it, an animated rabbit-like creature named Buster visits a real family in Vermont. The “controversial” part is that the children in this family have two moms. Yes, their parents are lesbians. And what do these body piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show Vermont lesbians do for a living? They live on a tree farm and make maple syrup.

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings denounced the cartoon saying that “Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode.” The producers of the show say that there was no sexual contact between the two women, and that homosexuality is not even mentioned. According to the AP, the show was about “farm life and maple sugaring.” (Of course, we all know that is Vermont-speak for lesbian sex.)

If Spellings really is so concerned with protecting the children from the gay menace, you’d think she would have done something about Bugs Bunny. That guy has been cross-dressing and kissing guys left and right for years now.

This isn’t the only time in recent memory that conservatives have gotten their granny panties in a bunch over a cartoon. Many of you may recall the furor over a certain square-panted sponge’s involvement in a video about tolerance, or maybe you remember Jerry Falwell outing the purple Teletubby Tinky Winky. These conservatives at best seem determined to stamp out any message of tolerance in the media and at worst seem like crazy old people who have nothing better to do than yell at the TV.

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    It is very scary that someone would be so hostile to the idea of promoting tolerance. The Postcards from Buster episode only shows a lesbian couple tapping some trees (and I mean to say that with as little sexual innuendo as humanly possible). It hardly even mentions homosexuality in any way. In fact, the only reference to lesbianism in the entire show is when Buster makes an offhand remark to one of the kids about having a lot of moms. The show does not advocate homosexuality at all; it simply acknowledges that it exists in our society.

    Having some people disagree with a lifestyle is no excuse to pretend that it doesn’t exist. I personally believe that Republicanism is an inappropriate lifestyle, but you don’t see me trying to force PBS to remove all Republicans from the airwaves. Gays and lesbians do exist in our society, and you can’t stop them from being represented in the media.

    As for the conservative Christian right, they really need to move on to greener pastures. This Postcards from Buster incident, the SpongeBob affair and the aforementioned Falwell/Teletubby episode make the Christian right seem more foolish than anything else. With all kinds of problems at home and abroad (homelessness, starvation, tsunamis, Ashlee Simpson, etc.), you’d think they would have something better to do than complain about children’s television. Similarly, you’d think Spellings would have more pressing education-related issues to deal with than censoring a cartoon.

    Tolerance and positive portrayals of homosexuals in the media are things that should be encouraged, not silenced. But if the Christian right absolutely has to attack a cartoon character, they should do something about Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. Interspecies sex is not only disgusting, it’s just wrong.