HAVE I BEEN UNFAIR TO JAMES DOBSON over the SpongeBob affair? According to this editorial from ToonZone, the cartoon website, yes, I have, by falling for the New York Times’ spin:
As Reuters describes it, Christian groups are attacking a video; the various cartoon characters and entertainers who appear in it are being criticized indirectly (if at all) for lending themselves to an agenda that these critics deplore. As the Times describes it, though, these groups are specifically attacking SpongeBob. And by sticking in an early and gratuitous reference to SpongeBob’s popularity with gay men (a point utterly irrelevant to a story about the video), the Times creates the impression that Dobson is attacking SpongeBob for being a gay icon. No wonder a casual reader comes away with the impression that Dobson is attacking SpongeBob for being gay. . . .
And in making SpongeBob sound like a martyr, it appears to be trying to piggyback a rival agenda onto his very thin shoulders: Save SpongeBob from the bluenoses!
Cartoons don’t deserve this. SpongeBob doesn’t deserve this. And SpongeBob’s creator, Stephen Hillenburg, certainly doesn’t deserve to have his creation kidnapped and turned into a giant puppet in some freak protest parade, no matter what its cause.
To Dobson and the Times I’ve a simple message: Get your hands out of SpongeBob’s square pants.
And here’s Dobson’s statement. I disagree with Dobson, of course, on all sorts of issues, but it’s still important to be clear what’s he’s actually doing, and not to let other people put words in his mouth. I should have been more skeptical of the Times, which has apparently gotten so unreliable that you need to turn to Reuters for more accurate reporting . . . .