Terrifying Tango: Religious Right Horrified by March of the (gay) Penguins
As I’ve monitored Religious Right organizations over the years, one thing has provided a lot of amusement: the constant obsession with children’s books and cartoon characters.
We all remember the late Jerry Falwell’s assertion that Tinky Winky, the purple Teletubby, was gay. Alan Sears of the Alliance Defense Fund once opined in a book that SpongeBob SquarePants might be gay as well. After all, SpongeBob’s best friend is a pink starfish. (What more evidence do you need?!) James Dobson of Focus on the Family once called SpongeBob a dupe for the gay rights movement for appearing in a video promoting tolerance.
Religious Right busybodies just can’t keep their hands off children’s literature. They spent years attacking the Harry Potter books for allegedly promoting witchcraft. Heather Has Two Mommies, a book about a girl with lesbian parents, pushed some Religious Right groups over the brink into hysteria.
Now the self-appointed guardians of public morality have another target: two allegedly gay penguins. Religious Right groups are up in arms over a kids’ book titled And Tango Makes Three. The work, loosely based on actual incident, concerns two male penguins at New York City’s Central Park Zoo who adopted a fertilized egg and raised the chick.
Thus did a charming story about unexpected behavior by animals that might amuse and delight young readers become, to the Religious Right, yet another part of the great gay agenda. Angry fundamentalist parents all over the country have demanded that And Tango Makes Three be removed from public school libraries and public libraries.
Focus on the Family was quick to jump on the censorship bandwagon. Candi Cushman, education analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said, “It’s very misleading, and it’s a very disingenuous, inaccurate way to promote a political agenda to little kids. What they’re not telling kids is that the supposedly gay penguin who is the star of this story later mated with a female penguin in real life.”
So a kids’ book about penguin sex would have been okay with Focus on the Family – as long as they were heterosexual?
The chinstrap penguins in question, named Roy and Silo by zookeepers, engaged in a partnership that’s not unusual for their species. It is called “paired behavior.”
Male chinstraps are more involved dads than some of their counterparts in the animal kingdom. Male and female chinstraps take turns incubating eggs, sitting on them for shifts of five to 10 days, so males are accustomed to playing a serious parenting role.
Roy and Silo had been observed trying to hatch a rock as if it were an egg. The zookeepers decided to give them the second egg of a male and female penguin couple that had previously been unable to hatch two eggs at the same time. Roy and Silo successfully hatched the egg, and the chick was named Tango. It sounds like a happy, pro-life ending, but leave it to the Religious Right to carp about it.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Religious Right busybodies just can’t keep their hands off children’s literature.
Many of those on the religious right have dirty minds and read meanings into things that are simply not there. A long time ago, we had a friend who turned Baptist and then acquired the belief that Porky Pig and other animal cartoon characters who didn't wear pants or clothes were obscene. When I was a child I never even thought about that. It was a pig, duck, mouse...whatever. Anything "nasty" about it was contrived by dirty-minded religious people who are obsessed with sex so much so that they find it amongst innocent children's books and programs. Here is a good post from AU's Rob Boston: