Without fanfare, KSPS-TV Ch. 7 aired an episode of the delightful children’s program “Postcards from Buster” on Feb. 2 that featured a child with lesbian parents.
PBS yanked the Vermont-themed “Sugartime!” episode from national distribution after Education Secretary Margaret Spellings spent her second day on the job beating up on Buster the rabbit. “Postcards” producer WGBH-TV in Boston distributed the show to interested stations anyway.
But only about 40 of the nation’s 349 PBS member outlets stood up to the Bush administration’s latest sleazy attempt to demonize gay and lesbian families. KSPS was one of those courageous few. Before the episode aired, viewer complaints outweighed calls of support, office manager Susan Canody said. But after the station ran the program – which showcases loving families from different cultural and religious backgrounds as the animated Buster Baxter explores the nation – positive calls outweighed the negative ones.
The episode does not even touch on the sexuality of the moms. A WGBH spokeswoman explained the supposedly objectionable content to New Jersey’s South Brunswick Post: “One of the kids introduces her mom and stepmom, and Buster comments that she has a lot of moms. That’s pretty much it. Remember, this is a show from a kid’s point of view, not an adult’s. … The moms are not central to the story, the kids are.”
But merely by showing one of the thousands of healthy, legal households headed by lesbian partners across the United States, “Postcards from Buster” helps give the lie to the contention of right-wing homophobes that gay parents are an abomination. The Education Department even disinvited the show’s executive producer from speaking at a children’s television conference last week before calling the censorship attempt a “misunderstanding” when reporters caught wind of it. On issue after issue, the Bush crowd just can’t handle the truth. Not even when it comes from a sweet-natured cartoon rabbit.
And talk about leaving children behind: Spellings’ hateful act wounded real-life kid Emma Riesner, who was featured in the “Postcards” episode along with her moms. “I was pretty upset when the show was canceled because I was very excited about it,” 11-year-old Emma told the New York Times. “I know some people don’t like gays and lesbians because they think they are bad people. That’s just a stereotype, and it’s kind of hurtful. I don’t think people should think of us as very different. We are just the same except we have two mothers.”
The Dallas Morning News asked single mom Spellings if she thought her attack on lesbian mothers was intolerant. “I certainly do not believe that kids who are in those families are inferior in any way,” the Education Secretary replied. I’m sure Riesner is smart enough to read between the lines of that chilling statement, but here’s the translation anyway: She doesn’t hate you, Emma, just your mothers.
And if Spellings’ barbed olive branch doesn’t make Emma feel better, maybe she can take solace in the fact that President Bush proposed steep cuts in education spending this week to protect the irresponsible tax cuts he secured for his rich friends.
Writing about poor Buster in L.A. Weekly, Doug Ireland summed up the sad state of our culture by quoting the Yeats line about how “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Thank God a few of our best institutions, such as KSPS, refuse to abandon the values of tolerance that continue to make this country great.
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