By Jan Creaser
Tinky Winky is gay. I know! I could barely believe the news myself when I read it in The Calgary Herald last week. Wow, that Jerry Falwell sure is a smart fellow. I wish I could eyeball someone and suss out their sexuality in one glance…
By now, my sarcasm is evident and, as university students, you have the knowledge and experience to pick it out. You also, hopefully, have enough education to recognize Falwell as a crack-pot in his desperate attempt to win back the moral majority, regardless of your views on sexuality. Falwell’s National Liberty Journal also criticizes Disney this month. Apparently, for this religious man, nothing is sacred, not even Disney.
Well, luckily we’re all going to be university educated. We’re here to learn to think critically. Maybe you’ll be a little frightened to learn that a vast majority of my Psychology 312 class actually knew who Tinky Winky was, or at least, what he was when our statistics professor blurted out Tinky Winky’s predicament in the middle of explaining comparison-wise statistics methods. While funny, it had no relation to statistics for the behavioural sciences at all.
On the other hand, a room full of psych students immediately thought the obvious: there’s no way a one-year-old knows whether or not Tinky Winky is gay (a point our prof also pointed out in all his psychological wonder). Just like I didn’t know as a child my Bullfrogs and Butterþies record was religious paraphernalia. Yes, the line “Bullfrogs and Butterþies, they’ve both been born again,” should have given it away, but I swear I was 21 before I realized the truth.
So, to criticize Falwell; I’m not a born-again Christian because of my early childhood experiences, and there’s no way an entire generation of kiddies is going to grow up gay from watching androgynous aliens on acid frolic in a field of mayþowers. If we’re lucky, they may grow up to respect an individual’s choice of sexuality, but that won’t be known until they’re older and can actually think introspectively. Since that doesn’t happen until adolescence, maybe Jerry can get them to watch Teletubby re-runs in 2010 to test his hypothesis.
On a surprising note, we, the students, thought about something related to our field outside of the classroom. Well, I did anyway, even if it was just to write this column. Imagine having to make a decision about Falwell’s article without your high school or university education, or even without the benefits of our first-world luxuries. If there’s one thing I’m learning here, it’s to question everything. I’m almost afraid to take anything at face value anymore without digging a little deeper for all the facts or myths.
Television worked its way into another class of mine recently. For two weeks in a row, ER paralleled my bioethics class with examples related to our current class topics. Creepy. Tackling such issues as mercy killing, Thursday night’s prime-time line up gave me one more thing to think about critically. See, the boob tube can have positive outcomes. I figured I was relaxing, enjoying my one night a week of indulgent vegging and then it turns into food for thought when my prof says, “So, that Dr. Ross is in a bit of trouble, eh?” (For those of you who don’t watch, that would be the “mercy killing” episode.)
How many of you find Final Jeopardy easier than it used to be? How many of you can look at the whole Bill Clinton ordeal (without even knowing much about politics) and think about it on more than an emotional level? Good, that’s why you’re here. School’s not just about fact collecting… even if you are subjected to classes taught by the professor who wrote a book, insists on using his own book in class, makes his overheads straight from said book and doesn’t encourage supplementary reading. The professors who lecture this way have missed the educational boat where students are concerned. I have a sneaking suspicion Jerry Falwell’s Liberty College also teaches under these circumstances. Never mind, though, just keep thinking and don’t let the bastards get you down.
In light of Tinky Winky’s supposed sexual orientation, don’t despair for the futures of the children who watch the Teletubbies. Instead, worry about the guys who got to their ’50s, ’60s and ’70s without being able to discern fact from fiction. Of course, I haven’t touched on the fact that Falwell is likely trying to ferret out support from people who are stupid enough to jump on a “gay toy” bandwagon. Poor Jerry, scandal, scandal everywhere and he has to pick on a helpless purple doll. I just can’t give him any credit for coming up with such an unsophisticated plot to enrage the American public. For general interest and any of you who feel the University of Calgary may not be living up to certain standards, Falwell attended the Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. I wonder if he knows the Simpsons and what their little Brat, I mean, Bart is up to?