Jewish World Review Feb. 28, 2005 / 19 Adar I, 5765

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Consumer Reports

Busting Buster | Buster the bunny is causing a lot of trouble, and he had better knock it off right now. The PBS cartoon character has instigated a brawl between the federal government, PBS and everyday Americans that is shaping up to be a signature battle in the nation's culture war.

For those of you unfamiliar with Buster, he is a curious rabbit that hops around on public TV introducing small children to the wonders of American life. In one of his adventures, Buster showed up in Vermont to check out the maple syrup industry and wound up surrounded by a bunch of lesbians and their children. The connection between the syrup business and lesbians was never really explained, but Buster posed for a picture with the group and looks very happy.

But the new secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, wasn't happy and fired off a letter to PBS saying that federal money should not be used to "introduce this kind of subject matter to children." Since the Public Broadcasting Service gets around $80 million a year in taxpayer funds, that kind of letter gets PBS' attention fast.

The pressure caused PBS to fold, and it did not air the "Buster in Vermont" episode nationally, but some individual stations did show it. Soon after the controversy, PBS President Pat Mitchell announced she was going to quit, but not because of Buster. Although rumor has it the bunny feels terrible about the entire situation.

But not as terrible as Congressman Barney Frank who, as a proud gay man, is outraged that the education secretary dissed Buster visiting the lesbians. Frank wrote a letter to Spellings spelling it out: "You have said that families should not have to deal with the reality of the existence of same-sex couples, and the strong implication is that this is something from which young children should be shielded."

Well, yeah, Barn, that's correct. Many Americans believe that little kids should have a childhood and not be subjected to any kind of sexuality. I don't want to be offensive here, but who in their right mind wants to explain Norma and Barbara's lifestyle to their 4-year-old? Give the kids a break, OK?

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It is well known that many in the communications business believe that a subliminal "gay is OK" message is imperative to foster tolerance in America. On paper, the theory looks good, and is good if the child is mature enough to process the situation. But introducing homosexuality into the little kid culture angers many Americans who believe sex in general is an inappropriate topic for small children, and that is a legitimate point of view whether Barney Frank or PBS likes it or not.

The sexualization of children is one of America's great scandals. Kids today are blasted out of a G-rated life far too early thanks to a greedy, irresponsible media and fanatical special interest groups. Yes, there is bigotry against gays, and kids must be taught to reject that at an appropriate age. There is also crazy stuff coming from some religious zealots who believe SpongeBob is cruising gay bars in Key West. That kind of nonsense diminishes the argument that young children need to be protected from too much information, which they do.

So I am teed off at Buster the bunny because this is all his fault. The guy went up to Vermont to get some syrup and got stuck in a huge jam. Buster should absolutely stay out of sexual politics. It's OK to be happy, Buster, just don't be gay.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of, most recently, "Who's Looking Out for You?" Comments by clicking here.

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