Thursday, October 28, 2010

Culture Wars' Impact on the Outlook for People With Diabetes

Earlier this week, New York's Metro newspaper, a free newspaper given away in the NYC subways and other transit hubs (the publisher is actually a big Swedish company that gives free newspapers away in big cities around the world, including Boston and Philadelphia here in the U.S., as well as Toronto, Mexico City, Moscow, Stockholm, Paris, Amsterdam, and elswhere), reported that the Sesame Street Twitter account ( hinted that Bert and Ernie were gay. (You can read the full issue of that newspaper HERE). Of course, they are puppets/muppets, so one could effectively argue that since the only reproduction that occurs for them is on a factory assembly line or on someone's personal sewing machine, they could only be described as "asexual" beings. Regardless, the now infamous tweet was one in which the character Bert was commenting on a recent film adaptation of the "A-Team", a 1980's television show starring muscleman Mr. T, who is perhaps best known for sporting a mohawk hairstyle and wearing a lot of gold jewelery. On June 11, 2010, Bert tweeted the following (that Tweet is still there, incidentally):

"Bert: Ever notice how similar my hair is to Mr. T's? The only difference is mine is a little more 'mo,' a little less 'hawk.'" 12:56 PM Jun 11th via web

The culture war fighters immediately jumped all over that, interpeting the statement "mo" to mean ho"mo" (as one of several urban dictionary definitions for the term, see HERE for more). Although I chuckled when I read the article, I really couldn't help but think how toxic all of this rediculousness really is, and how U.S. society truly has more serious issues to worry about than this kind of stuff. What's more, people with diabetes are being caught in the crossfire!

We've been down this path before.

Once upon a time, it was the children's purple dinosaur Barney who was being called gay, then it was cartoon character Sponge Bob Square Pants as the homo du jour. Its not enough that kids are being bullied to death for their perceived sexuality, but now that's being extended to puppets! Seriously, I've heard of sponges being used for female birth control, but I never saw the connection in this case. Besides, these protesters seem to have a collective case of amnesia when it comes to gays in children's media. Think back to some of Warner Brothers' most popular animated features in 1940's and 1950's, notably Bugs Bunny. Looney Tunes was (and still is) for many years a mainstay in children's TV programming. Although these cartoons were actually created for adults, they became a staple for after-school TV programming for kids that grew up in the 1960's and 1970's long before Boomerang and the Cartoon Network started showing this stuff 24/7/365. The wisecracking rabbit with a Brooklyn-Bronx accent actually had a history of "batting for the other team" -- and on screen! If you don't believe me, check out this classic clip:

Bugs the Beautician

There is also another episode HERE if you really want more, but all I can say is who's a 'mo now?! I don't think Bugs Bunny turned these culture warriers gay. So why the sudden irrational concern about polluting kids minds with non-existent pro-homosexual messages in children's media today? Seriously, why don't these people find a much more worthy cause like CURING diabetes to spend their time on?

The dumb part about all of this is that the perpetrators of these cartoon coming-out-of-the-closet stories are actually losing the culture wars. Today, most younger voters have grown up in an environment where they actually know homosexuals and most really don't care, nor do they feel threatened by them. Its no different to them than knowing someone who is African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Jewish, Bhuddist or any other minority group. Contrary to what they might claim, there are no recruiting efforts to join them. Do they really think kids can be attracted to have sex someone of the same gender unless they are likely gay to begin with?

But what really gets me is the fact that the very groups doing most of the talking (or should I say complaining and worrying over nothing) about this subject are the ones claiming to want to end the era of big government. Apparently, it's not OK to regulate industries, but it IS acceptable to regulate the personal, sexual behavior of adult individuals in the privacy of their own homes. Seriously, worry about the fact that most marriages ending in divorce and stop worrying about what two men or two women are doing in the privacy of their own homes.

Your Vote Can Impact Diabetes Care and Outlook for a Cure

Now that I've given my soap-box speech for the day, as I noted, there actually IS a diabetes-related reason for bringing this up. While all politics may be local, as I wrote in an editorial for Insulin-Free Times back in 2004, your vote actually can and does influence how your diabetes may be managed, how much it costs to care for yourself, whether you'll have access to care, and whether or not we could possibly ever see a cure.

This is because the U.S. Government, principally through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is the single biggest source of funds for scientific and medical research in the world. Yet some politicians are openly hostile to scientific evidence. Do you really think we'll ever see a cure for diabetes under the leadership of people who argue with the basic tenets of science? Remember, Frederick Banting and Charles Best did not discover insulin by praying to a higher being for their discovery (they may have prayed for strength to keep their work up), they actually did scientific experiments that lead to the hormone's discovery. That's called the "Scientific Method" and its been proven unequiocally with empirical evidence across the globe. Whatever your personal beliefs may be, no person can rationally argue that scientific discovery has not advanced mankind's existence and increased the average life expectancy. When you head to the polls, you are entitled to know whether a candidate will support scientific investment, and how their views might impact policy decisions made for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If they cannot articulate this for you, you may wish to reconsider giving that person your vote. I sincerely hope my readers will think about this when they head to the polls next Tuesday.


sysy said...

So true! Thanks for the important reminder regarding our civic duties :)

Anonymous said...

I love the addition of the Bugs Bunny clip, though to be honest, when I was a child and watched this, I wasn't thinking 'gay hairdresser'. I was envisioning the my mother's female busybody of a beautician. It wasn't until much later that I encountered anyone that remotely fit the stereotype Bugs is supposedly portraying and he wasn't in the field of cosmetology. And you are right, we have bigger problems right now that worrying about what two consenting adults do behind closed doors.

As for the voting reminder, I wish I could convince all of my fellow Type 1 diabetics that the candidates we vote for may or may not come back to stab us in the back, depending on their views of science, health care availability and insurability, research funding and so on. Their positions regarding research funding, in particular, are critical. And to be honest, I find that very few Tea Party candidates are keen on science, unless it benefits one of their corporate campaign donors or it mirrors the views of conservative church groups who, again, have donated money to them.

Bennet said...

I am for:
Mo' science
Mo' well written TV like Burt & Ernie's show
and maybe even a little mo' love of the neighbor who ever they may be.

We don't need no mo' science bashing
We don't need no mo' culture wars against kids shows.
We don't need no mo' promo' for hate.