SpongeBob SquarePants is gay. That is the indictment James Dobson, the founder of right-wing Christian group Focus on the Family, is making concerning a new video that stars the quirky cartoon character from the Nickelodeon show of the same name. After Jerry Falwell made a similar accusation about the character Tinky Winky from Teletubbies in 1999, such accusations are becoming old rather fast.
According to the New York Times, Dobson made the statement during one of the many inauguration events to commemorate the start of President George W. Bush’s second term. Spokesperson Paul Batura, speaking on behalf of Focus on the Family, later said to the BBC that SpongeBob is an “insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids.”
What is the Christian right’s obsession with children’s TV shows? Wouldn’t it be more productive to focus on more relevant problems such as the increasing number of American children who grow up in poverty every year?
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that SpongeBob is indeed gay, a fact his creators deny. What Christian groups imply is that “being gay” is a choice, and that such behavior, which they obviously condemn, can be triggered by exposure to people who actively participate in homosexual lifestyles. There is no data suggesting homosexuality is a choice. Watching a TV show starring “gay” characters could therefore hardly do any “damage” to even the most open-minded child.
There is nothing wrong with having a sexual preference that may not be labeled normal by some. Instilling hatred and intolerance toward those that may be “different,” though, could also be termed “manipulating and potentially brainwashing.”
Before individuals like Dobson and Falwell go on any more witch hunts, maybe they ought to consider how productive such quests are in their efforts to further the cause of organizations that supposedly operate under such auspices as “love thy neighbor.”