Say what?! Mr. Ratburn on the kids tv show “Arthur” is gay and getting married? Oh, the heresy! Well, that’s at least what Alabama Public Television (APT) thought, opting to not air the episode depicting the marriage and instead airing a re-run.
While a number of conservative value-based families from Alabama and beyond praised APT for their decision, many others expressed their disapproval. For example, school teacher Misty Souder from McCalla, Alabama saw the marriage as a celebration of inclusion and was looking forward to watching the episode with her 9-year-old daughter, only to be severely disappointed when she discovered a re-run was aired instead. In response, she reached out to the APT and used the experience to teach her daughter about the importance of speaking out for minority groups.
The statement provided by APT in regards to why they made their decision was that “Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate, and inspire. More importantly, although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterwards, parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision. We also know that children who are younger than the “target” audience for Arthur also watch the program. Our feeling is that we basically have a trust with parents about our programming. This program doesn’t fit into that.”
Sadly, back in 2005, another episode of “Arthur” came under similar controversy when it depicted the children of two lesbians living in Vermont. Except back then, PBS, who airs “Arthur”, pulled the episode due to how much flack it received, mostly from fundamental Christian groups that said the show was no longer “clean”. Ultimately, the feeling seems to still be the same in regards to this recent gay marriage episode, at least in Alabama, with 48% of those living there agreeing with the decision.
48%! With almost 5 million people living in Alabama, that means that there are at least 2.5 million people there who are still strongly opposed to homosexuality and feel it goes against their spiritual and moral values. In light of that, I began to wonder how many also feel the same way in the rest of our country? Does half of our population still strongly oppose homosexuality and feel it goes against the will of God? Honestly, I’m beginning to feel like our country is going backwards and I often think that at some point, there’s going to be an attempt to abolish gay marriage in our country.
Frankly, all of this makes me quite sad and maybe a little angry too. It’s 2019 for Pete’s sake and our country remains strongly divided on something all because the Bible continues to be thrown at people and judgments placed that God considers homosexuals to be sinners. UGH!
Sometimes I really wish that Christ would just get it over with and return, if only to remind everyone that the two most important “laws” were to love God with all our hearts, minds, and souls and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Somehow, far too many people continue to forget that and opt to protest things like a kid’s cartoon that’s showing a gay marriage because it goes against their spiritual beliefs and the God of their understanding.
My feelings about all this? Why can’t people just let people be people. Why can’t we just live and let live for Heaven’s sake! For as long as the Bible continues to be used as a means for judgment and not love, I honestly think our country is going to go in the exact opposite direction as to where the God of my understanding would love to see us headed in.
Sometimes I think we could actually be headed for a Tolitarian society that is Biblical-based and while many fundamentalists may totally cheer the idea of that, others like myself shudder at the notion of living in a country that could become no different than back in Christ’s time when there were so many severe factions and laws, something Christ fought hard to abolish. And if Christ is nothing but unconditional love, are all those judgments that continue to fly out towards homosexuals including decisions like not airing a gay marriage episode because it’s deemed “unclean”, really depicting Christ’s unconditional love at all?
That being said, I profoundly applaud PBS and “Arthur” for creating an episode that showed an act of unconditional love between two male characters, Mr. Ratburn and Patrick. Someday, hopefully I’ll live in a world where people simply love each other and don’t use a spiritual book as a weapon for separation and disunity, rather than one for inclusion and acceptance, as maybe then, people might actually see Mr. Ratburn’s and Patrick’s marriage as something to celebrate and not to denounce.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson