Jewish World Review June 27, 2002/ 17 Tamuz, 5762

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Nick not right | Linda Ellerbee, Nickelodeon's "journalist," had a Nick-at-Nite show called "My Family Is Different." Ellerbee, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) supporter and "Vagina Monologues" veteran, taught children, tuned in for "The Cosby Show," "diversity, tolerance and respect" for same-sex parents and their children.

Ellerbee had an in-studio focus group with the statistical objectivity of that old "Saturday Night Live" skit with a duck, a nun, a refrigerator and Garrett Morris in a police line-up. There were 3 children of gay and lesbian couples, a gay NYC fireman with 3 adopted children, and a gay principal from Minnesota who has no children but who assured us that parents love him. No doubt - the people of Minnesota elected a WWF wrestler as their governor, too. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

No straight parents were allowed, but Rosie O'Donnell represented Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge, and the fluctuating Anne Heche. Rosie was seated next to three Christian youngsters who were as frightened of her as Tom Selleck. A largely incoherent Muslim young lady sat, coincidentally, next to Ellerbee.

Ellerbee posed questions loaded with negative pregnants, as it were, to her stacked group: "Do you think it is morally wrong to be a homosexual?" "Do you think we need laws to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination?" "Many schools are bringing issues about homosexuality and diversity into the classrooms - do you think these kinds of things should be taught in school?"

Everyone bemoaned the name-calling children of gay and lesbian parents endure. Kids are cruel, but they are generically so, egalitarian in their ruthlessness. They are as diabolical over bananas in the lunch pail. Real kids turn only to Fruit Roll-Ups for fiber. My own children have endured merciless ribbing for their mother's musings and their own bad teeth. I got them braces and told them to say Molly Ivins is their mother.

Ellerbee's program was an affront to journalism, to wit, "Many kids these days are growing up in families that are non-traditional (have 2 moms, or 2 dads)." She failed to disclose that "Many" means .00000003 of the U.S. population, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' highest estimate of children with same-sex parents.

The film snippets of children with lesbian parents looked like Sponge Bob mixing it up with Lamb Chop. Mothers (2) and teen daughter romping about and cuddling. If my husband and I did the same with our teen daughters, we'd hear, "This is so gross."

Propaganda should not be touted as a news show. Ellerbee forced dialogue and edited clips to the singular conclusion that same-sex parents are common and benign. Even the clips of Jerry Falwell were Casper Milquetoast.

To suggest that parents control access to these shows is na´ve and hypocritical. Ellerbee and her ilk have removed the very mention of religion in schools because of their paranoia that children would begin thumping Bibles and living moral lives. They banished prayer at sporting events, in classrooms and even some Episcopalian dioceses.

Liberals lobbied in the 1970s to have cereal and sugar products ads curbed during Saturday morning 'toons because their children were going coo-coo with Cocoa Puffs. Ritalin not yet available, they sought a bureaucratic cure.

We, however, are asked to believe that Ellerbee's stealth indoctrination on kid TV and school discussions will not influence children. If the faith of our forefathers is banned for fear of conversion, then gay adoption discussions must fall to the same protest.

We of the extreme Christian right (no moderate sect was found in a word search), cannot win via boycott, even if we could abide the ideological inconsistency. I propose that Ms. Ellerbee do as many shows on same-sex parents as she wants so long as Nick gives equal time and prominence to other family tolerance issues.

"My family is different, we don't believe in abortion." Nick could show clips of college campus newspapers refusing to accept pro-life ads and then air an interview with Michelle Diaz, the California nurse fired for refusing to dispense "morning-after" pills.

The program could cover the litigation against the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform for its planes that fly over beaches this summer carrying banners that show a 10-week aborted fetus. Barbara Daw, a beach mother, objected to the fly-overs, "It took away my right to explain abortion to my children when they are ready." Well said, Mrs. Daw. Now curb Ellerbee and the schools on same-sex education of my cherubs.

Another show theme: "My family is different, we go to church." Some film of a couple of mosques and Amish carts will not suffice. We want clips of Sunday-go-to-meeting hordes headed into houses of worship as Ellerbee asks, "Some schools have begun teaching children about the various types of religions. Should they?"

Linda, I'm with you, babe. Focus group, onward! Just give all family tolerance issues equal time, complete with panels loaded in our favor.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


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06/06/02: Where was Agent Rowley when the FBI needed her?
05/30/02: Of big hair and sanity
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05/20/02: Some passion about Israel
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05/02/02: Go ahead, pass judgment
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04/18/02: Claire's life
04/15/02: Harvard takes off its pants one leg at a time
04/09/02: The Clinton legacy: Politics of personal destruction
03/31/02: Oscars' subtle bigotry was embarrassing
03/22/02: Blame Oprah, Rosie, Sally, Ted, David
03/14/02: The costs of women's feeble choices
03/08/02: Botoxic faces
02/28/02: The dangers of organized philanthropy
02/25/02: Don't take the gold
02/14/02: Ease up on the brothers and sisters
02/11/02: Because I was courted
02/05/02: Fat fault
01/24/02: Tolerance does not mean stupidity
01/17/02: Too old too soon
01/10/02: Ethically challenged firms
01/03/02: The year that was
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09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
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04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
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04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
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02/08/00: McCandidate McCain: Flirting with principles
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09/01/99: The village, the children, judicial imperialism and abortion
08/24/99: Naughty Newt?
08/17/99: In defense of Boy Scouts and judgment
08/10/99: Ruining the finest health care system in the world
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© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings