February 3, 2005


Post Cards of Intolerance: Bowing to the Christian-inspired attacks on gays (DOUG IRELAND, 2/03/05, LA Weekly)

A ferocious new wave of Christer-driven censorship — much of it anti-gay — is washing over America, with support from the Bush administration that is sometimes overt, sometimes covert. Equally ominous, however, is that in too many instances, the targets of that censorship are buckling under pressure. Here are two frightening examples:

Just last week, as her first official act, Bush’s new education secretary, Margaret Spellings, an evangelical Christian, launched an attack on the PBS series Postcards From Buster, which stars an 8-year-old cartoon rabbit who travels the country visiting real kids in real-life settings. [...]

Another Christer censorship campaign in the last weeks, led by Focus on the Family’s James Dobson and the Reverend Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association (AFA), has targeted a video of the 1979 hit song “We Are Family” that features 100 children’s cartoon characters like SpongeBob Squarepants, Barney the dinosaur, Big Bird and Clifford the Big Red Dog, as well as cameos by Bill Cosby, Diana Ross and Whoopi Goldberg. The video will be distributed free by FedEx next month to 61,000 schools as part of National We Are Family Day.

SpongeBob and the other cartoon stars have been “co-opted by an innocuous-sounding group to promote acceptance of homosexuality to children,” hollers Focus on the Family. The group in question is the We Are Family Foundation, founded by the song’s co-author Nile Rodgers, who co-produced the cartoon video with Christopher Cerf — a Sesame Street veteran, co-producer of the PBS teaching-literacy-to-kids series Between the Lions, and son of the late Random House publisher and TV personality Bennett Cerf.

There is not a single mention of homosexuality in the cartoon video. What sent the Christers into fits was that the WAF Foundation also promotes a “tolerance pledge,” which says: “To help keep diversity a wellspring of strength and make America a better place for all, I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity, or other characteristics are different from my own.” Inclusion of the words “sexual identity” in that pledge is something the Christers find dangerous — Dobson says they “reveal a clever and very subtle intent . . . to desensitize very young children to homosexual and bisexual behavior.”

Even worse in the eyes of the Christers: For a half-second in the video, the Between the Lions character Click the Mouse is seen at his computer with the We Are Family Foundation logo on the computer’s screen. And the WAF Foundation Web site featured links to guides for teachers on teaching tolerance prepared by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith and Tolerance.org, which include material on how to teach children not to discriminate against gay people and on what homophobia is all about. This, Dobson bellowed, “may put materials in teachers’ hands that could prompt them to teach kids that homosexuality is equivalent to heterosexuality.”

Unfortunately, all the links to the teaching-tolerance guides have been removed by the WAF Foundation from its Web site in the wake of the Christer protests.


Posted by Orrin Judd at February 3, 2005 5:57 PM

Yes, you can find it next to "breeders", "enemies of the proletariat" and "anti-democratic forces" in the Leftist Lexicon.

Posted by: LUCIFEROUS at February 3, 2005 6:05 PM

Yes, you can find it next to "breeders", "enemies of the proletariat", and "anti-democratic forces" in the Leftist Lexicon - out of print, but copies can be found by the truest of believer.

Posted by: LUCIFEROUS at February 3, 2005 6:07 PM

So in his paean to tolerance he's using an epithet?

Posted by: oj at February 3, 2005 6:13 PM

>Here are two frightening examples

Yeah, Doug, that's real scary.

Posted by: David Hill, The Bronx at February 3, 2005 6:27 PM

Two things to note about this article. First, this may be the first time Doug Ireland has ever written anything since elementary school which didn't blame all the world's horribles on us beanie-wearing, boner-nosed Jewboys.

Second, and this is more important, the whole thrust of his article is that the video teaches 'us' to be tolerant. At no point, is there any insistence that Mr. Ireland needs to be tolerant. You and I have to be tolerant of him, there is not the merest scintilla of a hint that he is required to return the favor.

Posted by: Bart at February 3, 2005 6:42 PM

Christ-er: (n.) a wind, gale or storm from Christ. (v.i.) to shift or veer toward the Christ.

Posted by: Dr. D. at February 3, 2005 6:43 PM

While I am not positive about this, I believe "Christer", like "Anglo" in the 1970s, is an attempt by some left-leaning intellectuals to deliberately coin an epithet/ethic slur to use against white people. (Being of Irish descent, I so LOVE being characterized as an "Anglo'!)

But so far I haven't seen the term in any mainstream publications, only in the writings of those self-same intellectuals ... much like "Anglo", several words coined to replace the "his or her" formulation (among these are "ter" and "tey" - ever seen them used anyplace?) and the innumerable variations of "womyn/wimmin/wombyn" seen in some feminist publications.

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at February 3, 2005 6:44 PM

I thought the proper perjorative was "Xtian", as in "Xmas" or in Xine Gregoire, Governor Pro Tem of the State of Seattle.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at February 3, 2005 6:52 PM

Christer is also a common first name in Norway, Sweden & Finland.

Posted by: Dr. D. at February 3, 2005 6:54 PM

It's funny that this wise and probably most open and tolerant of persons whould show such intolerance and disrespect for those with whom he disagrees.

Posted by: Dave W. at February 3, 2005 7:01 PM

It's the Goldwater-inspired maxim of the diversity movement: Intolerance in the pursuit of tolerance is no vice.

Posted by: Friday at February 3, 2005 7:54 PM

Hey, Christer is a good word. I'll use it. It's better than "fundies", right?

I'm a good person. When I see someone who might need help, I ask them if they need help. Anyone who labels that a "Christian" act can suck an egg.

"Christer" would allow us to seperate the noun from the adjective, which makes a lot of sense, considering how un-christian christers can be.

Posted by: Dave at February 3, 2005 8:01 PM

That's good advice, Dave - co-opt the term so it means what YOU want, not those opposed to you. That's sort of what Reggie Jackson did when he took Steinbrenner's "Mr. October" sobriquet, intended as an insult, and promoted the term as a badge of honor, indicating you could count on him when the games mattered. (Pete Rose did the same thing with the intended insult "Charlie Hustle", although that has other connotations when thinking about him now!)

Posted by: John Barrett Jr. at February 3, 2005 8:42 PM


Your desire to act Christian becomes you.

Posted by: oj at February 3, 2005 10:15 PM


Anti-semitism is passe.

Posted by: oj at February 3, 2005 10:18 PM

"I said, 'Herb, you don't want that condition. The court would throw it out, ten to one.' He says, 'And what then?' I said, I had to, 'Elvira gets [the inheritance] unconditionally.' That brought him up. He says, 'Not if I know it!' He used to do a lot of praying (and boy, he needed it!) with some Christer who went to this jerkwater college. Well, I did my duty, Ab; though it damn near killed me."

-- James Gould Cozzens, "The Just and the Unjust" (1942)

Posted by: at February 3, 2005 11:00 PM

Sorry, pressed the "post" button before I filled in my name on that last one.

Posted by: Greg Hlatky at February 3, 2005 11:17 PM

You can clean up Dave's potty mouth, but you just gotta know Google's already cached it someplace.

Posted by: joe shropshire at February 4, 2005 12:07 AM

Lileks has used the term "Christer" when writing in the voice of the antireligious Left (example here.)

Posted by: Mike Morley at February 4, 2005 6:11 AM

The 'We Are Family' site also says they want to re-define family as broadly as possible. Presumably, that would include not just SSM, but also multiple marriage, polygamy, single teen-age parenting, etc.

Some parents don't want schools to propagandize & socially-engineer their captive schoolchildren with cartoon characters to promote alternative life-styles. Who do these parents think they are?

Vouchers Now.

Posted by: Noel at February 4, 2005 8:24 AM

Dave: seeing someone who might need help and asking them if they do, would be a Christ-like thing to do (whether or not you are a Christian). Your kind-hearted and compassionate act would also be the Christian thing to do--if you are a Christian. It would also be the Jewish thing to do--if you are a Jew. (etc. etc.)

Posted by: Dave W. at February 4, 2005 8:04 PM

I suppose that that the story of one's conversion to Christianity could appropriatly be called a Christer, and one's conversion journey a Christer experience. One's conversion from christianity to atheism (or idunnoism) could be called an Antchrister. I would call Mr. Ireland's story an Antchristic diatribe.

Posted by: Dave W. at February 4, 2005 8:17 PM


Tell that to Columbia University, the Guardian and Agence France Presse.

Posted by: Bart at February 4, 2005 8:26 PM


yes, note how the quality of the anti-Semites has declined? Sixty years ago it was FDR, Churchill, Stalin and Hitler.

Posted by: oj at February 4, 2005 8:42 PM

As luck (or Providence) would have it, I stumbled upon "Christers" just this evening. It's in the Introduction to Walter Kaufmann's translation (1961) of Goethe's Faust:

"Early in Faust's first monologue, where the translation rhymes 'shysters' and 'Christers,' the original rhymes Laffen and Pfaffen: the first word is so unusual that no other literary occurrence of it comes to mind, while the second is still considered an actionable insult by some German courts. Goethe does not say 'priest,' or 'preacher,' but deliberately offends part of his audience while delighting others -- and presumably introduces Laffen to have a rhyme on Pfaffen."

Posted by: Guy T. at February 4, 2005 9:21 PM


Superior catch!

Posted by: oj at February 5, 2005 8:12 AM

I haven't heard anyone use 'Christer' since 1984. A guy I worked with who was a Catholic priest used to use it frequently, mostly but not entirely ironically.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at February 6, 2005 7:51 PM