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And as for the Seven Dwarfs ...

February 05, 2005

Readers of this page may recall our cynicism at recent reports that SpongeBob SquarePants, who we thought was just a treacly cartoon sponge-person, actually has lurid designs on young children. Last month, James Dobson, Focus on the Family's thoughtmeister, declared that SpongeBob's penchant for holding hands with his male starfish pal and his soft and swishy, er, squishy demeanor signals that he is really a homosexual cartoon sponge. Bob, he suggested, is an unsuitable, if not alarming, role model for kids.

Although we were initially skeptical, the more we thought about it, the more a subterranean world of deviance became evident in what parents long assumed were harmless children's classics. Dobson and the other family-values monitors who defend his SpongeBob "outing" are clearly on to something, and as a public service, we'd like to point out some of the more obvious examples:

* Bert and Ernie. Two guys, Sesame Street pals, longtime roommates, but who really buys those twin beds?

* Nancy Drew and her loyal sidekicks, Bess and the aptly named George. No wonder Ned Nickerson never gets to first base.

* The Cowardly Lion from "The Wizard of Oz." He wears a red hair bow, carries Dorothy's basket on occasion, sobs and faints and generally carries on -- unmanly in the extreme.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday February 10, 2005 Home Edition California Part B Page 12 Editorial Pages Desk 1 inches; 47 words Type of Material: Correction
SpongeBob -- An editorial Saturday about children's literature and cartoons erroneously stated that James Dobson of Focus on the Family declared that SpongeBob SquarePants is a homosexual sponge. Instead, in a speech last month, Dobson criticized as pro-homosexual a tolerance video featuring SpongeBob, Big Bird and others.

* Superman and Spider-Man have proper girlfriends. But Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder? Come on.

* Staying with the men-in-tights-and-capes theme, Hamelin parents should have known that the Pied Piper was trouble from the moment he pranced into town promising to clear up a severe vermin infestation. Soon after the rats danced their way into the river, lured to their deaths by his pipe music, the guy goes after the local kids. An obvious pedophile.

* Peter Pan may be straight -- he seems to have a thing for Wendy -- but his relationship with the fairy worries us. Captain Hook is another concern. The lacy shirts and tight pants may be a tipoff, and his fixation on Peter Pan has not been sufficiently explored.

* There is no doubt that Horton the elephant exhibits some serious gender confusion. When Mayzie flies off in search of adventure, Horton takes over, sitting on the feckless bird's nest for 51 long weeks. So responsible (read, female) is he that when the eggs finally hatch, Dr. Seuss draws them as little winged elephants.

* Peppermint Patty is another one with evident gender issues. She mostly pals around with the girls in "Peanuts," and her best friend, Marcie, often calls her "Sir." Hmm.

It's no surprise that millions of Americans are worried sick about eroding family values and gay marriage. But abstinence-only education and a constitutional amendment won't begin to untangle the twisted messages our children -- and those of generations past -- imbibed with their bedtime bottles.

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