Sunday, August 14, 2011

Leave My Muppets Alone

In anticipation of any hue and cry accusing me of being anti-gay and/or anti-gay marriage - and in the interest of setting the record straight (is it OK to use the word "straight" in this piece?) I am compelled to state that I am neither anti-gay nor opposed to gay marriage. As someone who is a confirmed agnostic and a licensed attorney, my position on gay marriage is simple: God does not decree who may be married, the State does.

The State (any of the fifty actually) is the only entity where you live - regardless of where you live in these United States - that possesses the requisite legal ability to declare two people married. You had probably wondered about that turn of phrase, "lawfully wedded wife" and figured it had to come from somewhere. Now you know. And quick - show of hands - who can name the ONLY entity 'round where you live that can dissolve the bounds of holy matrimony? Yep. You guessed it....the State.

It was not too long ago that the Legislature in New York passed, and Governor Cuomo II signed, legislation legalizing marriage between two individuals of the same sex. As someone who (a) does not live in New York; and (b) is already married, the law's passage has little to no impact on my day-to-day. Nevertheless, I happen to think that the folks across the Hudson River got it right. In the world in which we live, the definition of "family" has changed and changed again too often to count within the span of a generation or two. Logic dictates - in my humble opinion - that the definition of "marriage" had to follow suit. While it has not yet done so in every state....such as in the one where I live, it seems to be an idea whose time has come (and should have come quite some time ago).

Having said all that, to all of the activists and other addle-minded souls out there who have taken it upon themselves to foist gay rights onto the agenda on - of all places - Sesame Street, I say, "Enough already!" When we the people of these United States devote a portion of our time to creating and thereafter signing a petition devoted to demanding PBS have Bert and Ernie get married, it is time for us to start thinking seriously about how we spend our time. Truth be told, on change.org you have a plethora of petition-signing options available on the sensitive subject of Bert and Ernie.

Seeing all of the various items on the Menu of Silliness led me to offer up one of my own: Petition to Leave Bert and Ernie the F*** Alone. We are unfortunately a society in which interaction with one another is driven in large part by stereotypes ("Jersey Shore" anyone?). Exactly how does it help the cause of gay rights in this country to have anyone who identifies himself/herself as an activist for that cause championing the idiotic notion that PBS must/should "out" Bert and Ernie. Why? Cannot two adult males co-habit as friends? Is it appropriate to promote the position that two men unrelated by blood sharing a common living space must be homosexual? Is that why on college campuses across this country, fraternities are said to be part of "The Greek System"? Of course not....it's the toga parties.

Some of the things written by presumably well-meaning, reasonably intelligent folks in support of this campaign make it hard to give them the benefit of the doubt regarding either of those presumptions. I read something the other day in which Bert and Ernie were described by the author as, "two unmarried MEN who have shared an apartment for more than forty years." Huh? Two unmarried men? Not exactly.

They are two PUPPETS . They are inanimate. More importantly, they are timeless and ageless. Neither Bert nor Ernie is middle-aged. Both are brand-new every season that Sesame Street begins anew and they are introduced to a new group of pre-school children everywhere.

Only in America can we elevate the question of the sexual preference of two PUPPETS to the upper rungs on the ladder of national debate. One surmises that if any of those fueling this silliness really stopped to think about it, they would pick up on the fact in fairly short order that sexuality and sexual preference are not matters of paramount concern on Sesame Street. Bert and Ernie live in a neighborhood where they count among their friends a gargantuan, yellow, flightless fowl and a monster who clearly is dealing with diabetes or some other issue concerning his blood sugar. Not to mention the fact their block is home to a dude whose handle identifies him not by national origin or sexual orientation but by his disposition.

Here in America allow us just this one time to resist the temptation to have a referendum on something that simply should not be screwed with. On every other street in this country, we have traded a piece of our children's childhoods for the allure of sleeker gadgets, constant contact and 24/7 connectivity to everyone, everywhere all at once. On one lone piece of real estate, our children are permitted to be that which they are singularly well-positioned to be: children.

With all due respect to the Decency Legionnaires who believe the the "right" thing to do is to make Bert and Ernie two new faces of the gay rights movement, you have passed through the looking glass on this issue. Sesame Street does not need to be imbued with more of the real world. It is the real world that needs to be imbued with more of Sesame Street. The answer is in the question. And the power is in the preposition....

.... which is why you have never heard anyone asking how to get FROM Sesame Street.

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