Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Gay Penguins in Lodi

Now that I have your attention, your shoes are untied. No, seriously... someone in Lodi (and apparently people in other cities around the country) is upset about a children's book called And Tango Makes Three. The book is based on a true story about two male chinstrap penguins in the Central Park Zoo who become something of a couple and even make a nest for a fake egg. The Stockton Record has a brief article about the controversy at The reader comments are more entertaining than the article.

As a librarian, I find nearly all censorship abhorrent, but this example seems especially ridiculous. Someone posted a comment about not wanting to have a sex talk with her three-year-old because of the book. Well, gosh, I don't think a picture book about a couple penguins requires a sex talk! Little kids aren't nearly as obsessed with sex as their parents. You can tell a three-year-old that the penguins are friends and let it go at that. In fact, in the not-too-distant past same-sex friends would hug and kiss routinely, and they weren't gay. It just seems to be our culture today that insists on sexualizing everything.

Maybe the authors intended for the book to promote "the gay lifestyle" (or as we liberals call it, "tolerance"), and maybe they didn't. But it really doesn't matter. The book's target audience will see it as just a cute story about penguins... unless we grownups insist on giving them other ideas.

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