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COLUMN

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

Ruth Miller

Two Christian activist groups have protested the distribution of the We Are Family Foundation’s tolerance and diversity video. The allegation is that the video, which features the children’s cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants, promotes homosexuality by asking children to respect others’ sexual identities.

This isn’t the first time Spongebob’s sexuality has been called into question. In 2002, it was announced that the TV show and its merchandise were popular amongst homosexuals. This caused a tremor of controversy for a time, but was soon forgotten. The dissent is stronger this time around, as the video is being distributed in public schools. The conservative voice is louder than ever.

It is not new for such a small issue to hit the national media, but this one has resonated. This one has caught on differently. The religious right attacked as usual, but the reaction by the left was out of sorts. It was something more than the usual shock from homophobia. It was as if the left suddenly realized that this is a sure sign of things to come, and it’s open season on tolerance for the next four years.

In international politics, there are two reasons to take a military offensive: because you need to act defensively, and just because you can. This is an example of the religious right acting very offensively, and it must be for one of those two reasons. Surely they don’t feel their control on all three branches of the federal government is slipping, so it must be the second.

I’ve got to admit, it must be nice to have such a grip on power as to be able to take pot shots at the other guy. In all honesty, if I had a November like the Republicans did, I’d probably be smacking around the little guy just for sport, too. But, as in everything, the goal is to quit while you’re ahead. Calling out Spongebob is just a step too far towards the realm of “obsessive compulsive homophobe.”

Even the people at CNN.com seem to recognize that this is stupid. Their article “Christians issue gay warning on SpongeBob video” (Jan. 21, 2005) features a picture of a Spongebob Squarepants plush toy with the caption “SpongeBob lives in a pineapple under the sea.” It’s as if they’re saying “come on far-right, is this the best you can do?” Better yet, the accompanying CNN.com Quickvote offered a chance for visitors to give their opinions. In response to a multiple-choice about Spongebob, which includes the choices that he “promotes tolerance for homosexuals” and that he “promotes tolerance and diversity,” 72 percent chose “is yellow, absorbent and porous.”

The religious right have the left in a corner, and they know it. The big issues are all but decided, and the left is still in depression after the election, let alone able to cope with further losses. It seems the right, and not just the religious right, is taking to picking smaller fights just to get a reaction.

Where could this lead? Is the left just going to get batted down to the point of exhaustion, and will the right further its lead in 2006? Will members of the right get disgusted at the actions of their party and switch sides? Will the degradation of political discourse continue unabashed as the issues get more and more trivial and less and less relevant?

Is Spongebob gay? If you’ve seen the show, you may agree with “probably.” Something else you may agree with is that there are worse things than being gay, and to find an example, you only have to look two doors down from that pineapple under the sea to Spongebob’s best friend, Patrick Star. January of the official Spongebob Squarepants calendar features a picture of Spongebob giggling boyishly, which could be construed to be flamboyant, and Patrick drooling on himself. Drooling. I’d much rather my child have a hardworking, optimistic, and tolerant homosexual for a role model than an unemployed, cowardly starfish that drools on himself.

I suppose if you’ve got an agenda to follow, compromises must be made, and you’ve got to stick to your archaic list of complaints. Liberals should find it encouraging that the Christian activists are getting this desperate.