Saturday, February 05, 2005

Postcards From Laramie
Perhaps not surprisingly, I've never seen the PBS kids' show "Postcards from Buster" which is currently in the news as the latest target of the Kristian Kulturkampf Krew. I don't think I'd ever even heard of it until new Bush Education Secretary Margaret Spellings decided to launch an attack on the program for its evidently sympathetic (and very understated) portrayal of a lesbian couple in Vermont, presented in a by-the-way manner within a show apparently much more focused on maple syrup.

We probably shouldn't be surprised at any of this; Spellings, like everyone Bush has appointed since 2003, seems qualified for her job more based on unquestioning loyalty to the Idiot King than on any real accomplishment. At least she's not an outright fraudster like her predecessor, Rod Paige--though it's probably a matter of personal opinion whether her swipe at gay lifestyles is more offensive than Paige's comparison of teachers' unions to terrorist organizations. More to the point, I expect more in the way of this hateful nonsense as the Bushistas seek to throw side dishes of red meat to their intolerant right-wing allies in lieu of actually pushing for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The bad news, as Frank Rich reports, is that this is likely to include a new FCC chair even more predisposed toward censorship than Michael Powell, who at bottom had the soul of a corporate whore rather than a modern-day Inquisitor.

But back to Buster. As the above-linked story details, a few brave PBS affiliates, including our own here in NYC, are broadcasting the scary example of tolerance anyway. Maybe the series' creators should take it a bit further, though; after Buster's journey to Vermont, why not send the little rabbit to Laramie, Wyoming, where he can visit the site where Matthew Shepard was murdered by two homophobes. Perhaps Buster could talk with the Rev. Fred Phelps, who appeared at Shepard's funeral to bear the message that "God Hates Fags."

Then he could talk to Secretary Spellings and, of course, the Rev. James Dobson, who is so exercised that those insidious secular liberals are promoting a message of tolerance for the deviant lifestyle of homosexuality. Of course, they'd both disavow and condemn Shepard's killing (as even Phelps' church did, in a pro-forma way)--but a stated position that "gays shouldn't be tolerated, but shouldn't be lynched either" has no coherence, let alone moral power.

In last year's campaign, John Kerry failed the test of courage and principle on the issue of gay marriage, transparently hoping it would just go away and cynically trying to turn the homophobia of the electorate against the incumbents through mention of Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter. Instead, let's hold up a mirror to the intolerance and bigotry of the homophobic religious zealots of the Republicans, and show that the road beginning in the office of the Secretary of Education ends at a roadside grave in Wyoming.

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