January 27, 2005

This Post is Old!

The post you are reading is years old and may not represent my current views. I started blogging around the time I first began to study philosophy, age 17. In my view, the point of philosophy is to expose our beliefs to rational scrutiny so we can revise them and get better beliefs that are more likely to be true. That's what I've been up to all these years, and this blog has been part of that process. For my latest thoughts, please see the front page.

Postcards From Buster

A New York Times article, and also a WorldMag Blog post are reporting today that the airing of an episode of the PBS childrens' program "Postcards From Buster" was cancelled due to the presence of a lesbian couple. The show was schedule for February 2, but was not distributed to affiliates on time due to controversy surrounding its content. One PBS station, WGBH-TV Boston, has decided to air the program anyway, and distribute it to other PBS stations. According to the NYT article, "'Postcards From Buster' is a spinoff of 'Arthur' that combines live action and animation and went on the air a year ago. In the series, aimed at young elementary schoolchildren, Buster travels to 24 different states with his father and sends video postcards home ... One episode featured a family with five children, living in a trailer in Virginia, all sharing one room. In another, Buster visits a Mormon family in Utah. He has dropped in on fundamentalist Christians and Muslims as well as American Indians and Hmong. He has shown the lives of children who have only one parent, and those who live with grandparents." Strangely enough, I've decided that I support the airing of this episode. Let me tell you why.

The purpose of "Postcards From Buster" is to expose children to the cultural diversity of the United States. As I quoted above, Mormons, "fundamentalist" Christians, and Muslims have already appeared on the show. Exposure to other cultures and beliefs is a healthy part of a child's development, and Arthur's target audience, 2nd - 4th graders (which I presume is the same as Buster's audience), are about the right age to start begin being exposed to a wide variety of different cultures and lifestyles. We need to come to terms with the fact that there exist people, living in the United States, who live in homosexual "civil unions" and believe that their behavior is morally acceptable. This is a fact. The content of the episode was not sexual in any way. The lesbian couple are merely in the background - Buster's own parents are divorced, and he has visited children who live with one parent, both parents, or one or more grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. The focus is on the children. Now, Buster visits a family in Vermont in which the children, for reasons left unexplained, have "two mommies." There really are such families, and they really live in Vermont. We need to come to grips with this. Children who see this program will probably ask their parents about it (if they even notice), and the parents are free to explain it to them in the same way they would explain polygamy if a child saw it on the Discovery Channel: "Yes, Johnny, some people in some parts of the world believe that it's ok for women to marry women and men to marry men, but we don't believe that." Provoking children to ask questions that help them learn about the world is exactly what public television children's programming has always been about, and it's good. So stop freaking out.

Posted by Kenny at January 27, 2005 6:22 PM
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"2nd - 4th graders (which I presume is the same as Buster's audience), are about the right age to start begin being exposed to a wide variety of different cultures and lifestyles"

It should not be up to the TV to teach our young children about issues regarding sexuality, politics, morality or religion. I believe that is the main problem that people are having with this. If this were on a video and parents could choose to buy it and show it to their children and then talk about, then fine. But the problem is that too many parents are allowing the television to babysit their children and form their children's morals and belief systems. That is a scary thought! It should be safe to turn on PBS childrens broadcasting without having to worry about what adgenda is being pushed. (And the same things applies regardless of whether it is a conservative or liberal adgenda)

Posted by: Jade at February 3, 2005 10:43 AM

I do agree with the gist of what you are saying. However, based on what I read (I haven't seen the show) I really believe that this is a neutral presentation of the fact that some people live this way, hence my statement that it's no different from seeing polygamy on the Discovery channel. If parents are letting the TV set babysit their children (and I know this happens), that is another problem entirely.

Posted by: Kenny Pearce at February 3, 2005 5:21 PM

Homosexuality should not be taught to kids until they reach 7th grade.

Posted by: PaulS at February 3, 2005 8:56 PM

Is there anyone out there in cyperspace that believes what the Bible teaches - that homosexuality is a sin and NOT an alternative lifestyle? Where are the value voters on this issue?

Posted by: PaulS at February 3, 2005 8:59 PM

I absolutely believe it's a sin (you clearly haven't read anything else I've written), but I don't think we can run from the fact that some people believe it's acceptable. I'm not saying that their view is equally correct. It's not. They're wrong. I don't think that grade school is too young for children to be exposed to other cultures, including cultures that have different marriage practices like polygamy and homosexuality. For the most part, third graders are not going to think about sex when they see this (if they do, we've got a bigger problem). They're going to think it's strange that two women are married to each other, and it will stop there. From what I understand the show doesn't take it any further.

As to the blasted "value voters," Kent Smetters, a business professor here at Penn and a former Bush appointee, spoke at one of our Campus Crusade meetings last semester. I don't want to speak for him, or assume that he would apply this the way I do, but he criticized the Church for "playing politics" in order to create a world we were comfortable living in, instead of advancing the Kingdom of God. Creating an atmosphere where people must act according to Biblical morality on threat of retaliation (whether legal or illegal) does NOT advance the Kingdom of God. It undermines the free will God has given people, and in so doing hampers their ability to freely accept Him and freely live for Him. Jesus commands us to "believe and be baptized," and all of His commands are morally relevant. Do you think we should pass a law that everyone must "believe and be baptized" under threat of fines or prison?

I don't support gay marriage. It's wrong. It's unbiblical. I won't set foot in a church that supports it. But that's religious marriage. Civil marriage is a contract, and freedom of contract is one of the most fundamental human rights (I know, you won't find it in the Constitution or the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but you will find it in John Locke, who is one of those responsible for the fact that we're all talking about human rights). The government has no right to define marriage AT ALL. Doing so is a violation of basic rights. In addition to violating freedom of contract, it declares one religious doctrine wrong and another right. That said, as long as the government INSISTS on codifying a religious doctrine into law, in an area like marriage, if it comes to a vote I'll vote for the one I believe is correct - marriage between a man and a woman only. But if it comes to a vote on whether to define marriage at all, I'll vote no.

One more thought: The government first defined marriage and began issuing marriage licenses because they wanted to prevent interracial marriage.

Posted by: Kenny Pearce at February 3, 2005 10:34 PM

This is 2005, people. We need to teach our children tolerance. Censoring this program in 2005 is like censoring a show featuring African-American children in 1955. Censorship was wrong then, and it's wrong now. If you don't like alternative lifestyles, change the channel.

Posted by: Sue at February 7, 2005 12:57 PM

I agree with Sue, (Although I realize that this discussion pretty much ended February 7th) but I also agree with Jade. Censorship is wrong, but it is also wrong as a parent to allow the T.V. to 'babysit'. If a parent chooses to allow their child to watch a program that they disagree with, then they should be ready to deal with what the child walks away from the tv set thinking. It's the parents responsibility, not the tv station's.
I want to make this perfectly clear, I am not homosexual, I am not trying to defend them, however I am not going to discriminate against them.

In conclusion, I feel it's the parents responsibility to decide when their child is ready to be introduced to such things, and their responsibility to moniter what their child watches on television.

Posted by: Kendra at April 7, 2005 2:26 AM

It is hilarious that I had to find out today why my favorite show was cancelled.
I applaud you gay bashers and homophobes.
And over half a decade later I love that we have progressed far enough to accept gays more and now switched over to mexican(illegals) bashing.

Posted by: Lol at January 27, 2012 7:18 PM

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