Jewish World Review July 18, 2002/ 9 Menachem-Av, 5762

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Reality Muppets | Long before Tinky Winky, the purple Teletubby, trotted about with a purse, Bert and Ernie bunked together with their falsetto voices and platform shoes even as Big Bird, the token eunuch of the ever-diverse Sesame Street, hovered nearby. PBS's Children's Television Workshop, now Sesame Workshop, has heaped one odd conglomeration of characters upon the toddlers of the nation for 30 years.

Sesame Street is what happens when early childhood educational theorists have an unlimited budget due to sponsorships from corporations such as Sony, Pfizer and Crest that foolishly fund liberal minds. Adults use androgynous puppets to speak condescendingly to children as all one-child parents do, with self-control so contrived that they seem just one juice spill away from a tower and a rifle. For the anti-gun Sesame Street fans, make that a knife or a rope in the tower with schizophrenia. One-child parents fret about their child having sugar. Parents who burst the sanity barrier with 3 children permit their tykes to suck C & H with a straw from a 5-pound sack if it means quiet.

Sonia Manzano's Sesame Workshop Web column on raising children is quintessential childhood development mumbo jumbo, "I'm trying to give my child the best of my parents' lessons in decency and politeness mixed with today's in-your-face assertiveness. . . .My husband and I are raising our daughter Gabriela differently from the way we were raised. We let her feel free to explore, ask questions and make decisions and that's made for some interesting moments... from when, as a preschooler, Gabi insisted on wearing panty hose on her head... to when she decided she no longer wanted to appear on Sesame Street...." Mercy, heaven help this child of a PBS star.

Sesame Street is run by socialists who have infiltrated 20 countries with pledges to meet the needs of children: "such as the critical need in Egypt to bolster girl's education and self-esteem, the need in Russia to prepare children for life in an open society, the need in South Africa for basic preschool preparation, and the need in Israel and the Palestinian Territories to demystify differences among children and foster appreciation and respect for one another." Ten bucks says Arafat is Oscar the Grouch's long-lost cousin. How long before Cookie Monster starts wearing a turban? Big Bird's peace plan triumphs!

But, the PBS types have a new quest. A muppet with AIDS is coming to Sesame Street.. Andy, the AIDS guy? Henrietta, the HIV friend? From a business perspective, why risk a brand name with the taint of communicable disease? Those who hail from la-la land know no fear when it comes to the terminally and contagiously ill. Those of us in the real world grapple with continuing corrections from the Centers for Disease Control on the ways in which the HIV virus is transmitted.

Addressing illness, death, dismemberment, and perhaps suicide bombers for the Palestinian states edition, is nothing new for Sesame Street. Its penchant for doing so is precisely the reason for its banishment from my household. I don't allow The Simpsons either. Bart's smart mouth and Homer's dysfunctional existence are not the stuff of childhood. Childhood needs innocence, a Sound of Music purity.

Lectures on lesions in between math sessions with The Count are an affront to the age of innocence. On their way to discernment, children deserve peace of mind. Why sucker punch children before they turn 5 with Bart, Homer, and HIV? Couldn't we get them through the importance of cleaning their ears before moving onto STDs?

Those who foist this claptrap upon children selfishly seek adulation from television critics for what is, at best, indifference to children's best interests. Children would be better off being told to wear panty hose on their heads to parties.

This insistence on exposure to AIDS is disingenuous. The liberal righteous claim that broaching this subject with a muppet will help children to be sensitive to those suffering from AIDS. What will occur is a rosy introduction to a deadly disease without full information. If the Sesame Workshop addressed diabetes (Cookie Monster develops Type 2!), they would explore causes, treatment, and prevention.

Big Bird explaining to the cherubs that the two causes of AIDS in all but a tiny percentage of cases are sharing drug needles and sexual contact will bring a collective national screech as toddlers again inquire of their soccer moms, "What's oral sex?"

Introducing children to HIV without causal backdrop is irresponsible. Presenting AIDS to toddlers in sanitized fashion, as it were, is reckless indoctrination by television producers who take advantage of a malleable audience.

Parents should boycott Sesame Street, its products, its sponsors, and its propaganda. Folks this stunningly lacking in judgment should be nowhere near children's programs.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


07/09/02: We're all going to die, live with it
07/02/02: From the eye of the storm
06/27/02: Nick not right
06/20/02: Behind the music
06/14/02: The sum of all fears in vouchers
06/06/02: Where was Agent Rowley when the FBI needed her?
05/30/02: Of big hair and sanity
05/24/02: Should I embrace liberalism?
05/20/02: Some passion about Israel
05/09/02: A mother who cares enough
05/02/02: Go ahead, pass judgment
04/29/02: The irritation of the modern wedding
04/18/02: Claire's life
04/15/02: Harvard takes off its pants one leg at a time
04/09/02: The Clinton legacy: Politics of personal destruction
03/31/02: Oscars' subtle bigotry was embarrassing
03/22/02: Blame Oprah, Rosie, Sally, Ted, David
03/14/02: The costs of women's feeble choices
03/08/02: Botoxic faces
02/28/02: The dangers of organized philanthropy
02/25/02: Don't take the gold
02/14/02: Ease up on the brothers and sisters
02/11/02: Because I was courted
02/05/02: Fat fault
01/24/02: Tolerance does not mean stupidity
01/17/02: Too old too soon
01/10/02: Ethically challenged firms
01/03/02: The year that was
12/27/01: The Twelve Days of inconsistency
12/20/01: Free Speech and the political spectrum
12/13/01: Curbing brats
12/06/01: Power to influence
11/29/01: The disappearing art of grading
11/21/01: The Big Two-Five
11/13/01: You can never find a lib when you need one
11/01/01: Unlucky in sports
10/26/01: An epidemic of counselitis
10/16/01: A touch of class
10/12/01: Of human nature and monsters
10/05/01: Sensitive man
10/01/01: Post-September 11 security
09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
09/06/01: If there is no honor in youth sports, it is because of the adults
08/27/01: The draw of Condit
08/23/01: Lowering expectations and flying high
08/17/01: Thoreau, Walden and stems cells
08/13/01: Our masters: The animals
07/30/01: When principle hits too close to home
07/13/01: Rage born of sublimation
07/06/01: Patient's rights and the Valley of Death
06/29/01: There is no excuse
06/21/01: I want an eternal soulmate, but the marriage thing is another issue
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06/07/01: No stroke of genius
05/30/01: The lesson of the Mr. Green Jeans senator: 'Moderate' is a classy term for wishy-washy
05/25/01: Baseball has not been so good to me
05/18/01: Clothes make the woman
05/11/01: Selective precaution
05/04/01: Grades: Equality of students, by students, for the students
04/27/01: The Horowitz revelations as seen by a college professor
04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
04/13/01: The continuing mistake of underpricing electricity
04/06/01: That pill, Julia Roberts
03/29/01: If it weren't for the parents, we might accomplish something
03/23/01: The melt down of the academy
03/15/01: Columbine redux: Moral infants
03/09/01: The lessons of Tom and Nicole
03/01/01: Pardon the temporary outrage
02/23/01: In defense of homework
02/20/01: A Message for faith-based organizations: Don't take the money, just run
02/06/01: Enough already with the Clintoons
01/26/01: The challenge to be better than we have been
01/19/01: Where have you gone Frieda Pushnik?
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09/09/00: Why rich folk don't bother me none
08/28/00: Survival of the not-so-fit but conniving
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08/18/00: Resenting the accusations of racial prejudice
08/04/00: Women: Their own worst enemy
07/21/00: Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady
07/21/00: SUVs: The root of all evil
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06/14/00: Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female
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05/23/00: The new mollycoddling coach
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05/12/00: Taking your lumps
05/02/00: Elian: There's never a liberal around when you need one
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04/18/00: Womyn who want it both ways
04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
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02/22/00: Cranky nitpickers make writing a [sic] experience
02/15/00: Those chameleon 60s activists
02/08/00: McCandidate McCain: Flirting with principles
02/01/00: The demise of marriage
01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
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11/18/99: The elusive human spirit and accountability
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10/28/99: Live by litigation, die by litigation
10/22/99: Jesse, Warren, Cybill, Donald and Oprah
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09/21/99: The Diversity Hoax
09/15/99: Waco Wackos
09/09/99: Selective censorship
09/01/99: The village, the children, judicial imperialism and abortion
08/24/99: Naughty Newt?
08/17/99: In defense of Boy Scouts and judgment
08/10/99: Ruining the finest health care system in the world
08/03/99: Nihilism and politics: ethics on the lam
07/26/99: Of women, soccer and removed jerseys
07/23/99: Not in despair, a mere mortal doing just fine
07/20/99: "Why me?" How about "Why us?"
07/13/99: Bunk, junk & juries
07/06/99: An Amish woman in a Victoria's Secret store
06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
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06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings