Thursday, January 20, 2005

And that Sandy--can you spell "D-Y-K-E?"

Conservative group targets 'pro-homosexual' SpongeBob video

From David Kirkpatrick at the NY Times:

"WASHINGTON -- On the heels of electoral victories to bar same-sex marriage, some influential conservative Christian groups are turning their attention to a new target: SpongeBob SquarePants.

'Does anybody here know SpongeBob?' James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, asked the guests Tuesday night at a black-tie dinner for members of Congress and political allies to celebrate the election results.

In many circles, SpongeBob needs no introduction. He is popular among children and grownups as well who watch him cavorting under the sea on the Nickelodeon cartoon program that bears his name. In addition, he has become a camp figure among adult gay men, perhaps because he holds hands with his animated sidekick Patrick.

Now, Dobson said, SpongeBob's creators had enlisted him in a 'pro-homosexual video,' in which he appeared alongside other children's television characters such as Barney and Jimmy Neutron, among many others. The video's makers, he said, planned to mail it to thousands of elementary schools this spring to promote a 'tolerance pledge' that includes tolerance for differences of 'sexual identity.' He urged his allies to stand against it as part of a 'spiritual battle' for the country.

The video's creator, Nile Rodgers, who wrote the disco hit 'We Are Family,' says Dobson's objection stemmed from a misunderstanding. Rodgers said he founded the We Are Family Foundation after the Sept. 11 attacks to create a music video featuring 100 well-known cartoon characters dancing to his song in order to teach children about multiculturalism.

The video has appeared on Nickelodeon and other networks, and nothing in it or its accompanying materials refers to sexual identity. The 'tolerance pledge,' which was borrowed from the Southern Poverty Law Center, is not mentioned on the video.

Rodgers suggested that Dobson and the American Family Association, the conservative Christian group that first sounded the alarm, might have been confused by an unrelated Web site belonging to another group called 'We Are Family.' That site is owned by a Charleston, S.C., group that supports gay youth.

Mark Barondeso, general counsel for the We Are Family Foundation, suggested that anyone who says the video promotes homosexuality 'needs to visit their doctor and get their medication increased.'

Yesterday however, Paul Batura, assistant to Dobson, said Focus on the Family stood by its assertions. 'We see the video as an insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids,' he said."

This is just another day at the office for Dobson, and representative of the level of discourse at which we can expect his folks to operate during Bush II. The really annoying part of the piece is that Kirkpatrick wastes time and column inches fleshing out the artificial "controversy" about which "We Are Family" group Dobson had in mind--as if it actually had some bearing on the legitimacy of his latest eruption of rabid homophobia.

I like the sentiment of Mark Barondeso's comment, but it's in vain. Alas; Big Pharma has yet to come up with a pill that cures malignant character pathology.

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