This is a paper I wrote for my reading and study skills class, it is quite interesting because its hows once again, how narrow minded republicans can be. Tell me what you think.
Cartoon Controversy Essay
Reading and study skills
April 13th, 2005
In this paper I will be talking about the controversy that has come up about homosexuality in cartoons and about teaching young children about tolerance and homosexuality. I will give an overview of the situation, talk about the pro’s and cons, examine hidden assumptions and values and finally discuss my own point of view. The four sources that I will be referring to are “Tolerance Talk Flares after Cartoon Flap” by the Associated Press, “Will Bert and Ernie be next” by Marty Jeezer from the Brattleboro Reformer, “Dr. Dobson Takes on Media Over ‘SpongeBob’ Controversy”, and finally, “Education Secretary Condemns Public Show with Gay Characters” by Ben Feller an Associated Press education writer.
First I will discuss “Tolerance Talks Flares after Cartoon Flap”, which was written by the Associated Press. The thesis for this article is popular cartoon characters loved by children everywhere were part of the latest controversy of America’s culture wars. The question rises for adults about involving homosexual content in materials for teaching young children about diversity and tolerance. The issue that has arisen from these articles talked about teaching kids about homosexuality and what two different groups of people had to say about it. The controversy arose after an episode of “Postcards from Buster” was filmed in which Buster visited a lesbian couple, and their children. The new appointed education secretary made PBS take the episode off the air. The station WGBH distributed it to over 30 different television stations. The controversy also arose when the group “We are Family” distributed a film in which over 100 cartoon characters had children take a “tolerance pledge” asking them to respect every one of different races, religions, ethnic backgrounds and sexual identity. Dr. Dobson of the “Focus on the Family Foundation” responded by saying that “tolerance” is a buzzword for promoting homosexuality.
The group “We are Family” who founded the tolerance pledge said that all children need to see many different types of lifestyles and families so that they can learn that their particular type of family isn’t the only one. The more Liberal reactions for teaching children about homosexuality say that it is wrong to exclude any lifestyle from the media. Linda Hodge, president of the National PTA, says in the article “Tolerance Talk Flares after Cartoon Flap”, that children should feel safe in school no matter what type of lifestyle their parents have. She goes on to say that she “strongly supports classroom initiatives promoting tolerance and combating bullying.” She continues on by saying that “some programs could backfire if they focus so explicitly on harassment of gays that those students feel singled out and labeled.” One the other side of the issue, Dr. Dobson, Spellings and other religious right activists say that the parents should be the ones teaching their children about homosexuality and that many parents wouldn’t want their children exposed to that type of lifestyle. They claim that children shouldn’t be taught that homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality, and that tolerance is a buzzword that allows kids to be brainwashed to take part in that particular lifestyle.
Next we read three articles that presented opposing views on this issue. The articles are “Will Bert and Ernie be next” by Marty Jeezer from the Brattleboro Reformer. “Dr. Dobson Takes on Media Over ‘SpongeBob’ Controversy” by Gary Schneeberger editor of the Focus of the Family website. The last article we read was “Education Secretary Condemns Public Show with Gay Characters” by Ben Feller an Associated Press education writer. Next when talking about why this is happing, Marty Jeezer says that conservative Christians don’t think that homosexuality should be apart of cartoon content. He says that the conservatives are behind all of this because of ‘tolerance’ being taught in classrooms. The conservatives brought up the “tolerance pledge” that the “We are the Family” foundation promoted. Marty Jeezer claimed that this is all happening because republicans are saying that this is all an obsession to gain political power, and that it could be someone’s interpretation of the Bible. Tom Minnery, vice president of government and public policy for Focus on the Family said that what was at stake is the normalization of homosexuality in public schools. In contrast, Dr. Dobson and Education secretary Spellings said that this is all happening because of Buster Bunny visiting the Lesbian parents in Vermont and because of the “Tolerance Pledge”. Secretary Spellings said in the article by Ben Feller, that the Buster Bunny episode “does not fulfill the intent Congress had in mind for programming”
In regards to protecting kids, Marty Jeezer said that when discussing the issue of homosexuality, kids really don’t need protection from this, and that depending on the age of the child, they really might not care all that much. The republicans say that they want their kids protected from being brainwashed into becoming part of this particular lifestyle. The “We Are Family” foundation use words such as “diversity and unity” and while they sound harmless enough, they could be part of a hidden agenda to promote homosexuality. Marty Jeezer finds it ridiculous and is outraged that the religious right are making such a fuss over all of this and that they are able to get away with verbally abusing homosexuals. Dr. Dobson and education secretary Spellings say that homosexuality is not equal to heterosexuality and that it shouldn’t be taught in schools.
Jeezer went on to make a few other points about fear, the separation of church and state, and about marriage being undermined. He says the republicans fear the homophobic minority and those children would be seduced into homosexuality and may become victims ofa pedophilia. He says that it is the constitution not the bible that set the rights for this country, and that homosexuality isn’t what undermines marriage, but what undermines marriage are “immaturity, the pressures inherent in two-job families, and physical, psychological, and substance abuse.”
There were many values that arose from this topic. The liberal values are that education about tolerance is very important, and that children need to be taught about all types of different lifestyles. As a class we came up with the hidden assumption of how it takes more than one person to raise a child and that we shouldn’t leave it up to the parents to teach children about important issues such as tolerance. The religious rights believe that liberals are more secular humanists and that they are taking over the country. Secular humanists believe that many types of sexual relationships are healthy. When it comes to religion they are typically atheists or agnostics. The laws that we go by are the physical laws of the universe and are not influenced by non-material beings such as gods, demons, or other spirits. On the other side of the issue, the bible is the source of authority for the religious right. The religious right has quite different values; they say that homosexuality isn’t equal to heterosexuality, that all children should be protected by their parents from what they see as harmful topics, and that as a Christian nation, our policies should reflect the bible.
I think that tolerance should be taught in schools, I agree very strongly with Marty Jeezer who says that it is ridiculous that the religious right is making such a fuss over all of this. I think that homosexuality is very much equal to heterosexuality. If a child isn’t taught that there are many types of lifestyles then he or she will think that lifestyles that are different are wrong or less equal. The tolerance pledge didn’t say that the children had to become homosexuals or that they had to agree with that particular lifestyle, it just said that they should respect everyone regardless of their sexual identity and I think that is very important. I agree with what Marty Jeezer said about undermining marriage, it isn’t homosexuality but it is abuse and many other factors that actual undermine marriage.