Friday, January 21, 2005Remember the great "Tinky Winky is Gay" Teletubbies® scandal? Well, James Dobson's Focus on the Family has discovered another alleged sexually subversive stuffed toy - this time, it's everyone's favorite Poriferan, Sponge Bob:
LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Conservative Christian groups accuse the makers of a video starring SpongeBob SquarePants, Barney and a host of other cartoon characters of promoting homosexuality to children.Somehow, the image of James Dobson railing against the sins of Sponge Bob at a coalition dinner strikes me as absurdly funny. After the outing of Tinky Winky, media pronouncements like this only give frightened conservative parents nightmares about the Pedophiliac Sponges of Sodom.
...The video is a remake of the 1979 hit song "We Are Family" using the voices and images of SpongeBob, Barney, Winnie the Pooh, Bob the Builder, the Rugrats and other TV cartoon characters. It was made by a foundation set up by songwriter Nile Rodgers after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in an effort to promote healing. Christian groups however have taken exception to the tolerance pledge on the foundation's Web site, which asks people to respect the sexual identity of others along with their abilities, beliefs, culture and race.
"Their inclusion of the reference to 'sexual identity" within their 'tolerance pledge' is not only unnecessary, but it crosses a moral line," James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, said in a statement released Thursday. Dobson was quoted by the New York Times on Thursday as having singled out the wildly popular SpongeBob during remarks about the video at dinner this week in Washington, D.C. [read full article]
Nile Rodgers responded in yesterday's New York Times,
...[Rodgers] said Mr. Dobson's objection stemmed from a misunderstanding. Mr. Rodgers said he founded the We Are Family Foundation after the Sept. 11 attacks to create a music video to teach children about multiculturalism.In this case, however, the Reverend Dobson seems to be beating not only a dead horse, but a straw man:
The video has appeared on television networks, and nothing in it or its accompanying materials refers to sexual identity. The pledge, borrowed from the Southern Poverty Law Center, is not mentioned on the video and is available only on the group's Web site.MORE: "Conservatives Pick a Soft Target: A Cartoon Sponge" New York Times, 1/20/2005
Mr. Rodgers suggested that Dr. Dobson and the American Family Association, the conservative Christian group that first sounded the alarm, might have been confused because of an unrelated Web site belonging to another group called "We Are Family," which supports gay youth. "The fact that some people may be upset with each other peoples' lifestyles, that is O.K.," Mr. Rodgers said. "We are just talking about respect."
Mark Barondess, the foundation's lawyer, said the critics "need medication."