I’m tired of apologizing for idiots.

Do I make white people explain the latest idiot thing I heard a white guy said every time one wants to start a conversation with me? So once it comes up that I’m a Christian, I shouldn’t have to answer for what the latest evangelical said or did to make the news. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot that the church legitimately needs to apologize for (um, the Crusades quickly spring to mind and if you want something more recently, the priests/kids debacle impacted the whole Church, not just Catholics), but there are some things that, frankly, you have to allow for some people to speak mostly for themselves.

Okay, in the name of Christian unity, I probably shouldn’t call my well-meaning brothers idiots. Hate the sin, love the sinner and all that. I mean, really, when someone accuses a cartoon of pursuing a sexual agenda, how seriously do we take it?

Well, apparently plenty.

I thought that the crap that I took over my review of Shark Tale was an aberration. My main beef with the movie was that the targeted young crowd, say the 6 and under crowd, wouldn’t get the whole mob spoof angle of the story, as opposed to the “I can’t find my dad” storyline of Finding Nemo. Next thing I know, I get these letters about the hidden pro-gay agenda in the movie, full of such insight as “it clearly has anti-family undertones through the shark called ‘Lenny.’” Or someone offering up a “cross-dressing shark” as evidence of this agenda. (Someone who didn’t take kindly to my suggestion for them to shake themselves and read what they just typed.) A wink and “I know what they mean” doesn’t constitute an agenda.

I guess I should have seen it coming, since this only continues a trend that started when Rev. Jerry thought Tinky Winky was gay. Don’t get me wrong, of course I believe that the TeleTubbies are powered by Satan. A couple years back, when my boys were one and two, we were in full romp when I tired of watching an NYPD Blue re-run. I flipped channels, pausing on a station filled with these day-glo colored creatures fumbling about speaking gibberish. My boys stopped in mid-motion. It was like a scene from The Birds. They were perfectly still, perfectly quiet. It creeped the crap out of me. Never again.

Anyway, next came insinuations about Sesame Street’s Bert & Ernie as children’s characters who are “conduits for a soft-on-gays message.” Which implies the stance of the church necessarily being “hard-on-gays”. Things kicked up again with James Dobson vs. SpongeBob Squarepants (Christians Issue Gay Warning on SpongeBob Video Friday, January 21, 2005) . In brief:

The wacky square yellow SpongeBob is one of the stars of a music video due to be sent to 61,000 U.S. schools in March. The makers — the nonprofit We Are Family Foundation — say the video is designed to encourage tolerance and diversity.

“Their inclusion of the reference to ‘sexual identity” within their ‘tolerance pledge’ is not only unnecessary, but it crosses a moral line,” James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, said in a statement released Thursday.

Let me start by saying that I respect James Dobson a lot. Focus on the Family is a ministry that has done a lot of good. Granted, it has also become a symptom of a greater problem, too, where the modern evangelical church has turned the family into an idol, but that’s another issue. However, he’s off his nut.

Now, the objected to Tolerance Pledge states: “I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity or other characteristics are different from my own.” I’m gonna keep saying this until my ears bleed: Respect is a bridge, not an endorsement. However, this wasn’t the first time that my man SpongeBob was “outed”. Back in 2002 rumors of the asexual invertebrate’s secret life surfaced after reports that his show and its merchandise were popular with gays. Yeah, let’s jump on that bandwagon: everything that gay people like must be gay.

Then this past week, the Traditional Values Coalition send out this alert: “Parents Beware: ‘Shrek 2’ Features Transgenderism And Crossdressing Themes”. And I quote:

Parents who are thinking about taking their children to see “Shrek 2,” may wish to consider the following: The movie features a male-to-female transgender (in transition) as an evil bartender. The character has five o’clock shadow, wears a dress and has female breasts. It is clear that he is a she-male. His voice is that of talk show host Larry King.

In another scene in the movie, Shrek and Donkey need to be rescued from a dungeon where they are chained against the wall. The rescue is conducted by Pinocchio who is asked to lie so his nose will grow long enough for one of the smaller cartoon characters to use it as a bridge to reach Shrek and Donkey. Donkey encourages him to lie about something and suggests he lie about wearing women’s underwear. When he denies wearing women’s underwear, his nose begins to grow.

An earlier scene in the movie features a wolf dressed in grandma’s clothing and reading a book when Prince Charming encounters him. Later, one of the characters refers to the wolf’s gender confusion.

First off, who are these people? They bill themselves as the “Traditional Values Coalition”. That alone tells me to keep on web surfing. They claim to represent over 43,000 churches. I can claim to represent 200 million free thinking Americans. Who knows if it’s true? Anyone can claim anything they want. Second, why are you going to their web sites? That’s like tuning in a televangelist then getting worked up over their latest antics. Third, why are you paying any attention to them? The publicity of “outrage” stemming from this idiocy fuels them (and sends more dollars their way).

I see their “fear”: controversial (read: anti-family) ideas go down a lot easier and into a lot more unsuspecting minds in a comic context. Especially with the built in defense that it goes above the heads of the kids in that audience anyway. And of course, all the Shrek supporters have to do is point out that the whole idea behind the Shrek movies is a general message of tolerance (unless you’re short. See the first Shrek).

*sigh* Respect is a bridge, not an endorsement.

As a father of two, I have the opportunity/excuse to watch a lot of cartoons and children’s programming. So, message to all of those coalitions who claim to speak for huge groups of people, if you want to target something “gay”, why not go after something that I can’t stand, like The Wiggles? Yeah, I said it, someone had to. Four men in different colored shirts singing about “fruit salad, yummy, yummy”?

Fight the real enemy.