Politicians and military strategists searching for ever-more effective ways to wage their campaigns should look to a successful tactic employed in the domestic culture wars. The side holding greater sway these days is employing the unlikely stratagem of fighting with its head in the sand.
In the thrall of this insurgency based largely in the under-populated, under-industrialized portion of the country typically found in portions of our map colored red is the government, which has forced PBS to pull its backing of a kid's show because it featured a lesbian couple as tertiary characters.
"In fairness I would have to say a gay character is not one we would not include," Wayne Godwin, the system's chief operating officer, told The New York Times. "The fact that a character may or not be gay is not a reason they should or should not be part of this series."
But when newly installed Education Secretary Margaret Spellings allowed that many parents might not want their children exposed to a lesbian lifestyle (whatever that is), PBS exercised its own brand of prior restraint by pulling its backing of the episode of "Postcards from Buster." Buster, by the way, is an animated bunny, the child of animated divorced parents, who visits a host of real-world kids of all backgrounds.
Now, homosexuality may be cast for some as an issue of "values" rather than biology. But whatever side you take, it's hard to see how either can prevail by denying the existence of the other.
Forcing PBS to drop the "Buster" episode does nothing other than waste all the time and money that went into its production. Lesbian couples still exist, both in red and blue states, still do or do not have children and generally go on about their lives.
All that's accomplished is the perpetuation of ignorance that comes with dismissing information that can be used to help develop a clear-eyed view of what goes on in the big wide world.
Perhaps that's the fear that with more information our children will be prone to make choices of which we don't approve ("Hmmm, homosexuality. Interesting. Never thought of that, perhaps I'll give it a try some day "), though I can't think of a generation that has tried with any success to so manipulate its kids.
There are two great ironies in the whole "Buster" flap.
The first is in the selective nature of the battles being fought. From a values perspective, the wildly successful "Desperate Housewives" (with its infidelity, divorce, etc.) would seem to be trumped by a loving, stable, two-parent household. But no.
The other is that asserting the power of mass censorship denies the option of asserting another, simpler power of individual parenting: Just not tuning in.
The vast wasteland that is broadcast media offers at least a couple of oases for everyone, and it's easy enough to find programming that suits one's values without demolishing the other stuff everyone else wants to see.
So, butt out, ostriches. I'll handle the parenting of my kids. I'm best equipped to judge what is and is not appropriate for them to see.
*Jonathan Diamond is assistant managing editor of the Business Journal.
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