Some people see politics everywhere, even where they don't belong.
Case in point a Chicago-area man who, according to Washington, D.C. radio station WMAL, has started an online petition at a website called Change.org seeking to pressure the people behind the landmark children's program Sesame Street to "let Ernie & Bert get married."
As a child—and as a parent—I watched a lot of Sesame Street. I'm a big fan of Bert & Ernie and their antics. I can still sing most of the lyrics to "Rubber Duckie" and "Doin' the Pigeon" from memory. They are funny, engaging characters who demonstrate to children that people—no matter how different they might be in temperament, likes, dislikes and personalities—can still be the best of friends. But they are also, as apparently has been lost on some people, Muppets—a combination marionette and foam rubber puppet invented decades ago—by the legendary Jim Henson and his wife Jane. Muppets are not people, and while they are in many cases gender specific they, as the Sesame Workshop felt compelled to point out Thursday, "Do not have a sexual orientation." Nonetheless someone out there thinks they would be useful to further a point about sexual identity. [Check out U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad.]
It's an idea that's foolish, and moreover, culturally destructive because, if enacted, it would further the end of childhood innocence in America. Children are already bombarded, in and out of school, with messages and meanings that, in my judgment, are far too sophisticated for them to comprehend. Instead, they just confuse and, in some cases, scare them—as was the case when, as the Boston Globe reported back in 2009, "an anxious, depressed 17-year-old boy was admitted to the psychiatric unit at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne."
"He was refusing to drink water. Worried about drought related to climate change, the young man was convinced that if he drank, millions of people would die. The Australian doctors wrote the case up as the first known instance of climate change delusion,'" the paper reported.
A 17-year-old man is far more mature than the average viewer of Sesame Street. We have an obligation to protect innocents and innocence and, in a sense, childhood itself. Children are treasures, precious gems that are our future and should be treated as such, not as targets for indoctrination.