Friday, July 19, 2002

Sunny days, Muppets are turning gay

TEN PERCENT of the population of South Africa is HIV+. In an attempt to reflect the very real issues that children in that country have to deal with, the Children's Television Workshop is introducing an HIV+ muppet to the South Africa version of Sesame Street. They have no plans to discuss sex or drug abuse, they simply are trying to educate young kids about how they can cope with their world.

There are NO plans to introduce an HIV+ character in the U.S. None. Zippo. Nada.

However, Congress is already starting to get into an uproar. They are having meetings and sending letters to PBS threatening to cut funding if they bring this felt-covered-styrofoam ball into America. Sesame Street is supposed to be "safe" television for kids, right? And if an HIV+ muppet shows up, I'm sure our Congressmen will have their Nannies run into the living room, turn off the projection TV and send their grandchildren to their rooms to play Playstation instead. I suppose that's what will happen in South Africa too.

HIV is a serious problem in the U.S., but no where near the scale of South Africa. If it were, 2-3 children in every kindergarten class would become infected with HIV during their lives. But as of today, we can still shelter our children a bit and not have to worry too much about AIDS education in pre-school. There may come a time when the epidemic spreads even more, and we will need our Congress to jump in and prevent our kids from learning about tolerance, and acceptance, and personal safety. But that day isn't here yet. Don't they have something better to do these days?

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