How About We Not Use Kids As Pawns In Our Culture Wars?
It’s come to this — the New York Daily News is reporting that there’s an online campaign to get Bert and Ernie married in an episode of Sesame Street. And thus a stoner in-joke is now seen as a legitimate starting point for our national discourse:
“We are not asking that Sesame Street do anything crude or disrespectful,” reads the petition for the muppet merger. “It can be done in a tasteful way. Let us teach tolerance of those that are different.”
A debate over the sexuality of Sesame Street’s most famous duo has dogged the show since Bert and Ernie first appeared in 1969. The puppet pair sleep next to each other and bicker almost as much as a married couple.
The article further notes that “over 700” people have signed an online petition, and Sesame Street’s producers have reaffirmed Bert and Ernie’s platonic status. I wouldn’t hold my breath on this online campaign gathering too much steam.
But let me add just a couple of points here. One, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s federal funding has been perilously close being cut off thanks to their masterful firing of Juan Williams and their terrorism fundraising scandal. Purely as a matter of pragmatic political strategy, this petition is destined to pressure PBS into doing something that would give congressional Republicans — and a handful of conservative Democrats — an excuse to finally pull the trigger and push to defund PBS and NPR. Brilliant!
Second, obviously gay marriage is a very controversial issue. We can all fiercely debate it, but shouldn’t we try to avoid manipulating our kids’ childhood memories in order to score political points? There are few things I can think of that would polarize America even more than it already is than if we start aggressively trying to subvert parental autonomy to impart their own values in order to use children as pawns in our culture wars. Obviously we can’t have complete control over every message that gets to our kids, but lets not seek out the most sensitive debates and start driving wedges, em kay?
Or if we are going down that path, let’s go whole hog. Let’s make the Yip Yips polygamous, have Zoe and Elmo explore consensual adultery and allow Oscar to open up about his swinging. Right?