In Remembrance of Liberty and Justice for All

From: Jay Lemke (
Date: Wed Jan 26 2005 - 20:39:48 PST

The postings on Remembrance of the oppression and murder of indigenous
people in Australia, and of the holocaust, triggered a response in me to
more current events.

I read a report today that one of the first official and public acts of the
new US Secretary of Education was to condemn a public television cartoon
show for children that happened to include as a very minor element the
existence of a lesbian couple in Vermont, where the show about making maple
sugar was set.

 From the report:

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said the "Sugartime!" episode does
not fulfill the intent Congress had in mind for programming. By law, she
said, any funded shows must give top attention to "research-based
educational objectives, content and materials."

"Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles
portrayed in the episode," Spellings wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Pat
Mitchell, president and chief executive officer of PBS.

"Congress' and the Department's purpose in funding this programming
certainly was not to introduce this kind of subject matter to children,
particularly through the powerful and intimate medium of television."

In closing, she warned: "You can be assured that in the future the
department will be more clear as to its expectations for any future
programming that it funds."

On the episode in question, "The fact that there is a family structure that
is objectionable to the Department of Education is not at all the focus of
the show, nor is it addressed in the show," said Sloan of PBS.


Vermont, of course, is a state that validates same-sex civil unions. The
current government of the United States however does not seem ready to
include in its educational objectives either the truth about the diversity
of human relationships or tolerance for all social minorities in American
society. I wonder how people would feel if this head of the Education
department made the same objection to including a passing view of an
inter-racial couple?

I am tired of feeling ashamed to be an American. I am very, very angry that
this kind of outright, public, and official bigotry can be at all tolerated
by anyone in this country, regardless of political party or personal
religious belief.

This is how fascism begins. And this is how a nation loses its right to the
loyalty of its people.


Jay Lemke
University of Michigan
School of Education
610 East University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Tel. 734-763-9276

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