Friday, November 17, 2006

Parents Freak Out about a Penguin Book

This Is Reason #67,325 that I am often misanthropic. Those reasons aren't ranked in any particular order, by the way.

So, here's the deal: An orphaned penguin egg is given to two males in the Central Park Zoo, who adopt the egg and raise the baby as their own. Some smart person saw that as a good idea for a book, which it is -- an ALA Notable Book, no less. Spread some love and make some money. A few rather ignorant parents have chosen to see this book as promoting the "gay agenda." Freaking' idiots.

Complaining about the book's homosexual undertones, some parents of Shiloh Elementary School students believe the book — available to be checked out of the school's library in this 11,000-resident town 20 miles east of St. Louis — tackles topics their children aren't ready to handle.

Their request: Move the book to the library's regular shelves and restrict it to a section for mature issues, perhaps even requiring parental permission before a child can check it out.

For now, "And Tango Makes Three" will stay put, said school district Superintendent Jennifer Filyaw, though a panel she appointed suggested the book be moved and require parental permission to be checked out. The district's attorney said moving it might be construed as censorship.

Filyaw considers the book "adorable" and age appropriate, written for children ages 4 to 8.

"My feeling is that a library is to serve an entire population," she said. "It means you represent different families in a society — different religions, different beliefs."

Lilly Del Pinto thought the book looked charming when her 5-year-old daughter brought it home in September. Del Pinto said she was halfway through reading it to her daughter "when the zookeeper said the two penguins must be in love."

"That's when I ended the story," she said.

Oh my god, they used the "L" word. I thought only young, single males were afraid of the L word (no, not that other L word, which is not totally out of line with this story).

I know I should show/feel more compassion for people who have such warped and limited thinking, but I tend to see them as simply brain-washed morons. The Bill O'Reillys, Ann Coulters, and Sean Hannitys of the world -- among many others -- have made these simpletons fear anything even remotely gay. Surely this little story about penguins is going to make their kids gay, Gay, GAY!

No, seriously, what really bothers me are the assumptions that (1) being gay is a bad thing, (2) you can catch it like a disease or be persuaded to be gay by being exposed to gays, (3) gay people (or penguins, in this case) are not capable and deserving of being loving, caring people (or critters), and (4) removing any book from the library (or limiting its access) will protect kids from something horrible -- knowledge.

I think these people are taking that whole forbidding them to eat from the tree of knowledge thing a little too literally.

This is the last great frontier for the civil rights movement, but it sure seems slow in coming. Being gay, or lesbian, or bisexual is not a choice or a lifestyle -- it's the way some people are born. They are equally human, loving, caring people who are hurt and degraded by efforts to suggest they have some grand agenda to take over the world. All they want -- all any of us want -- is to be treated fairly and equally under the law and as members of this society.

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