With everything that’s going on in the world and domestically, you would think Christian conservative groups had more important things to worry about than poor old SpongeBob Squarepants. But there it was, right on the pages of The New York Times today, a story about Dr. James C. Dobons, the founder of Focus on the Family, who’s up in arms against a new video featuring Steve Hillenberg’s beloved Nickelodeon toon.
Dobson is now claiming that SpongeBob’s creators have enlisted him in a "pro-homosexual video," in which he appears alongside Barney the dinosaur and Jimmy Neutron. According to Dobson, the video producers were planning to mail it to thousands of elementary school to promote a "tolerance pledge" that includes tolerance for differences of "sexual identity."
The good (and probably bewildered) folks at Nickelodeon issued the following statement: "Dr. Dobson was obviously mistaken about the goal and message of this video, and it’s sad that this organization would use the popularity of SpongeBob to forward their own agenda. What’s even more troubling is that the media, beginning with The New York Times, continues to blindly perpetuate a story based on misinformation."
The video’s creator, Nile Rodgers, who wrote the disco hit "We Are Family," told the Times that Mr. Dobson’s objection actually stemmed from a misunderstanding. Rodgers said he founded the We Are Family Foundation after the Sept. 11 attacks to teach children about multiculturalism. The video, which has appeared on TV, says nothing about sexual identity, and the pledge, borrowed from the Southern Poverty Law Center, is not mentioned on the video and is available only on the group’s website.
We are right there with Mark Barondess, the foundation’s lawyer who said the critics "need medication." Come on, just because SpongeBob holds Patrick’s hands on occasion doesn’t mean he’s a friend of Dorothy. He’s a yellow sponge, and Patrick is a starfish–with five hands, limbs, whatever! We also tried to reach folks like Smithers (The Simpsons), Snagglepuss (Hanna-Barbera), and Velma (Scooby-Doo), but they were all in Washington attending an animated anti-inauguration rally. And, by the way, when did promoting a message of tolerance in this hate-filled world become such a bad thing!?