Either you're with the bunny, or you're with us: Readers weigh in on PBS, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and the "Postcards From Buster" crisis.

By Salon Staff
Published February 5, 2005 8:45PM (EST)

[Read "Paralyzed Broadcasting System," by Eric Boehlert.]

Goodbye, PBS. Your unquestioning withdrawal of the "Sugartime!" episode was the last straw. In my mind, you are now lumped in with the group that yielded to creationist demands for stickers on biology textbooks.

Based on her reaction, Margaret Spellings must think that wholesome Vermont dairy farming, when practiced by a same-sex couple, is a sign of the apocalypse. And for her supporters it probably is, since it undermines the notion that same-sex couples have chosen a wicked and lascivious lifestyle based on purely hedonistic needs. Of course, there probably is a lot of licentious udder-fondling going on there.

PBS now self-censors topics that might undermine the Christian right's image of a perfect world created in their own image. In return, I will self-censor PBS.

-- Glenn Parker

With two children under age 7, I've had occasion to watch "Postcards From Buster" this year. Viewing an earlier episode, I was surprised one day to find Buster visiting a Mormon family. The show seemed to be about nothing more than Mormon family life. Let me tip my hand -- I'm a gay dad, one of two in our family. Was I thrilled to see Mormonism in my living room? No, not really. But it was another chance to talk to my children about different religions and some things that all families have in common.

Thanks, PBS Kids, we do love you and your approach to diversity. Oh, wait a minute ... never mind.

It seems that the existence of my family (I presume the secretary of education would be no less upset about a depiction of a two-dad family) is an unacceptable part of American life, not fit to be broadcast on PBS. I'm apoplectic. He's a creepy rabbit-boy, visiting real children. PBS has sided with the Bush administration's newest insane culture warrior (couldn't she be fixing schools or something?), over a bunch of actual children who happen to have two moms or two dads. PBS and the Bush administration have tried to erase us from the picture of what America looks like. Well, we're not moving to Canada. And we're not renewing our PBS pledge. Let the Mormons pay our share.

-- Jeff Byrne

You ask if PBS has become "the White House's lap dog." Let's be honest here: Buster's visits to the lesbian family was obviously meant to promote acceptance of this novel type of living situation. The "who, me?" pretense that the creators of this program were just walking around with a camera and filming what they saw is strained and insincere.

As it happens, the position the White House has taken on this issue is, by a significant majority, also the position of the country at large. Far more people voted for John Kerry than against ballot measures upholding traditional marriage, and even Kerry himself was forced to feign support. You may thus well ask if PBS is becoming America's lap dog. I'd have to see it to believe it, but if it happened, it would be a good thing. "P" stands for the public who by law must fund them. It is inappropriate that the network has dedicated itself to an ongoing assault on the shared values of the public.

-- Timothy Usher

Dear Ms. Spellings,

I'm the married mother of two young children, and I strongly object to your threats to the creators of the "Postcards From Buster" show for filming at the home of a child and her lesbian parents.

Regardless of one's moral views of such households, it is really heartless and intolerant to imply that this child's household is somehow unworthy of attention, and we should avert our eyes from her because of who her parents are. I know that "Buster's" excellent sister show, "Arthur," makes it a point to portray kids from all different backgrounds who nonetheless are friends with one another. That's a great message for kids who are just starting to explore this big, scary, confusing world. It's my understanding that Buster has the same goal. "Buster" and "Arthur" arent about parents. They're about the kids who live in our households.

You probably believe, as I know many conservatives do, that such households are harmful to the children who grow up in them. But why would you compound that harm by making children in those households feel even less accepted by our society?

I really fail to understand why it would be problematic for children to be exposed to this real-life household, where apparently there was absolutely no display of inappropriate affection. The fact of the matter is that such households exist. What's wrong with teaching young children that the children in those households are just like them, unless your goal is to marginalize and ostracize these children?

My sincere hope is that shows like "Arthur" and "Buster" teach this generation of kids to maintain a level of maturity and human decency that apparently escapes you.

-- Jane Istvan

I would like to ask that the education secretary consult a dictionary for the definition of the word "moral." According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of "moral" is "Concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character."

It is very apparent to me (as well as millions of other Americans) that it has been quite some time since Ms. Spellings has looked at a dictionary. She is so terribly busy acting in a manner which is in stark opposition to that which is considered "moral." Denouncing PBS for televising a realistic situation of the world we live in? For impressing upon children that people are different and that's OK?

God forbid, Ms. Spellings, that we teach our children to love their neighbors, regardless of their race, class, gender or sexual orientation. God forbid, Ms. Spellings, that we raise a generation of people immune to the hatred and discrimination that we adults were forced to endure.

Perhaps you can keep yourself from proselytizing long enough to find some time to pick up a dictionary, or, better yet, the Bible. It seems to me that your education is severely lacking in knowledge of the golden rule.

-- Shannon Evans

Salon Staff

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