Freshly-minted Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (her first day of work was Monday) charged into her most pressing duty this week: Writing a letter to the head of PBS about a cartoon whose purpose is to foster cultural awareness and sensitivity. The lead character of the series, "Buster", visits people all over the world to learn about their lives. He recently visited a couple of families of sugar maple growers in Vermont, which happen to both be headed by female couples.
"Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode," Spellings wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Pat Mitchell, president and chief executive officer of PBS.
Did I miss something? Did the women demonstrate proper cunnilingus technique? Did they extol the virtues of Sapphic love? I may note that this show also made an episode featuring a fundementalist Christian family, but apparently that is a "lifestyle" I am expected to approve of and be happy to explain to my child. I might note that I go to church, but that doesn't mean I approve of what some people do in the name of being Christian. Families headed by gay parents are a fact of life, people. They aren't going away, nor should they. If you are waiting until your child is old enough to enjoy this show to teach them that some families have two mommies or two daddies, I think you might end up a bit behind the curve.
The Boston affiliate that produced the show has changed its mind and decided not to distribute it. They say that it had nothing to do with the letter from Spellings, that it was because they wanted to be sensitive to parents that aren't ready to bring the topic up to their children yet. I'm sure it had nothing to do with the rest of the letter:
She asked that her department's seal or any statement linking the department to the show be removed. She asked PBS to notify its member stations of the nature of show so they could review it before airing it. And she asked for the refund "in the interest of avoiding embroiling the Ready-To-Learn program in a controversy that will only hurt" it.
In closing, she warned: "You can be assured that in the future the department will be more clear as to its expectations for any future programming that it funds."
Now, instead of playing with my daughter, I have to write this stupid woman a letter explaining to her how I, as a taxpayer and a parent, think that her time would be better served on more pressing issues, and that she "can be assured that in the future this taxpayer, parent, and proud American citizen will be more clear as to my expectations for any future programming my government funds".
Nothing like a righteous rant first thing in the morning to wake you up.