Back when she would still admit she was a liberal, Hillary Clinton once famously observed that “It Takes a Village” to raise even a single child. And a whole village is just what liberals believe is necessary to counteract the influence of the child’s parents, who may be dangerously “un-progressive” in their teachings.
Or maybe it takes a whole world to raise your child for you. If so, PBS, the Public Broadcasting System, has just the world to do it: EekoWorld! Built with your tax dollars, EekoWorld is a whole complex of games, cartoons, and narrated stories aimed at young children on the “PBS Kids” website.
“PBSkids.org” is so heavily promoted during children’s programming on PBS, that it was among the first complex word sets that my son learned to speak. Whenever the third parent, I mean “the television,” would sing the PBS Kids jingle, “P-B-S Kids!” my little internet junkie would quickly add “dot org!”
Keep in mind that this was before Buster the Rabbit decided to teach the PBS kids about Lesbian couples making children and maple syrup in the mountains of Vermont, so I didn’t think anything about letting the boy, now 4 years old, watch unlimited PBS, which I figure I’ve paid for already anyway. Plus, various Muppets and kind neighbors did a fair job of adding to my meager knowledge of reading, writing and bottlecap collections back when I myself was a cub left to the tender flickering embrace of the third parent.
I wasn’t, therefore, very concerned about the boy seeing blatant political propaganda while he watched PBS. I mean: it’s children’s programming. It’s not like I was letting him watch Frontline or Bill Moyers or anything really bad.
Oh, how naïve I was.
The invasion of my home by the joint forces of EekoWorld began about 14 seconds into my shower one morning. The bathroom door opened. I heard a series of tiny footsteps walk across the floor and there was a knock on the opaque shower door, about three feet off the ground.
“What?” I asked. “Um, Dad, you need to get out of the shower now. You’re taking too long,” replied the boy. “Why -do you have something at school today that we need to be early for?” I said. The very serious reply came back “Um, No. But you are using too much water, and that could kill all the fish.”
“Hmmm….” I wondered. It all became clear the next day.
“Um, Dad, what does ‘NO’ look like again?” I was asked. You see, the host of EekoWorld, Cheeko, had asked the boy a question for extra points and the answer was apparently supposed to be “No.” The questions in the EekoWorld game are spoken, but the child must click on the written answers. Wow, I thought, good old PBSkids.org was teaching the boy to read while I spent some quality time with FoxNews in the other room. So I went into the next room to see what game he was playing and show him “No.”
There, spread out across the screen of my trusty iMac, was EekoWorld - a paradise over which my boy had total control of all policies, decisions, and development. Right there, I should have known that a liberal had come up with the concept for the game.
Cheeko, a winged monkey with the body of a shark and the tail of a snake (whom I’m fairly sure might be the beast from Revelation, by the way) was hovering over EekoWorld waiting for an answer to his question, which he repeated periodically in a voice that sounded a lot like Eleanor Clift in the midst of a "McLaughlin Group" free-for-all with Pat Buchanan, but even more shrill (and who knew that was possible?).
Cheeko cawed forth the question again: “People want to drill for oil in this area even though it is a wildlife preserve. What is your vote?” Below the freakish FrankenMonkey were two potential votes, “YES” or “NO.” The Texas part of me immediately took over. “Well, yes, for Pete’s sake,” I thought. I’d drill for oil through the family cemetery if I thought it would reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 0.00001%. So I clicked “Yes,” much to the horror of the boy, who knew very well what “No” looks like, but just wanted me to come play the game with him. “NO, DAD, DON”T!” he cried. But it was too late.
Cheeko pounced on us. Being a liberal abomination, he was too worried about our self-esteem to tell us that we were wrong, but squawked out instead “Here’s a better choice. Oil keeps our homes comfortable and provides us with electricity, but removing oil from a wildlife preserve can hurt the land, plants, and animals. -8 points.” “MINUS EIGHT POINTS!!!???” the boy shouted, then looked at me as if I had stepped on his goldfish and said “Why did you do that, Dad?”
The “World Health” score of EekoWorld immediately dropped eight points. A pallor settled upon the creatures. There, in the midst of paradise, stood my ill-chosen gang of oil platforms each continuously spurting forth copious torrents of oil from their derricks, choking the sea with filth. “WHO IS THIS MALEVOLENT MONKEY?” I cried. Ok, actually I cried a mild obscenity in front of the boy, but I can’t reprint it here.
So I decided to begin my investigation into EekoWorld, an investigation that was accelerated a day or two later, when the boy began crying at dinner because we were having Tilapia and it “might be the last one in the Ocean.” He used the word “overfishing” in a sentence. “CHEEKO!!!!!! LEAVE MY BOY ALONE!” I cried (or something like that.) After restoring the boy’s appetite by explaining that Tilapia are evil fish that kill baby dolphins just for sport, I hastily infiltrated EekoWorld.
“This area has a lot of paved parking lots. Should another one be added?,” Cheeko shrieked at me, while hovering over a city by the oil-choked bay. “SAY ‘NO’ DAD!” was shouted from the dinner table. “Have you ever tried to park in Boston, Monkey-Devil?” I cried out as I clicked “YES!” Cheeko than lectured me about runoff from leaking automotive oil pans. Minus 8 points.
I installed some windmills and got back the eight points. And unlike Cape Cod, no one sued to preserve their ocean views. So the EekoLiberals are not very realistic. They’re not EekoHypocrites.
I watched a cartoon about the Tundra, in which Matt, an ignorant white kid, is educated about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by Arvaaluk, an Eskimo kid. I mean “Inuit kid.” I mean “youthful Arctic-American.” Ok, I mean “Eskimo kid,” dang it. Arvaaluk explains the risk drilling presents to wildlife, but then explains our need for oil. “I can see both sides of this issue,” replies Matt. Hmmm? Balance? Oh, there’s no need for balance. Arvaaluk then explained that there’s probably not that much oil there anyway and we could save a lot of gas if we would just inflate our tires properly. Thus, there’s no need to drill in ANWR. Stupid Matt! (I checked my tires; they are inflated properly, so NOW can I drill in ANWR? PLEASE?)
I learned that the Tundra must be protected because it consumes more carbon dioxide than it produces. By logical extension, I thought, we should kill baby Pandas, since they produce more carbon dioxide than they consume.
I visited the “EekoHouse” and learned about the need to bathe shoddily to save water. Also, I learned that I am entirely too warm in the wintertime. Then I was told “You can join a local environment group to learn more. Ask you parent or teacher about a group in your area.”
For some reason, at that moment, I remembered a conversation I’d once had with a Chinese friend about how her teachers had directed her to join the Communist Youth as a child. Her entrance exam, which she bravely forfeited, was to write an essay criticizing her imprisoned father’s political beliefs. Silly, unconnected thought, that -since the scale of the two offenses were, of course, quite different. But it has always struck me that there is a certain kind of political zealot who seems to think it is perfectly acceptable and even clever to mess with the minds of other’s children.
Much of EekoWorld was perfectly benign, of course. I’m all for proper tire inflation and thicker home insulation. Heck, I once even ran a composting booth at Earth Day back in College. I like my planet and want it to continue at least long enough to see a solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court (which could take centuries at this rate). But I think PBS has seriously overstepped its bounds when it begins using my forcibly collected tax dollars to pay for cartoons instructing my children how they should vote when they grow up, that ANWR should remain uselessly barren, or that they should ask a teacher about joining Greenpeace or the Young Unabombers Society.
Others have pointed out many times, in the continuing debate over the wisdom of funding of PBS, that there is an inherent conflict of interest in the Federal Government choosing “preferred” information and programming to promote, via its own tax-funded network. The public debate determines the Government in a democracy. The Government therefore has no business determining the public debate.
And when a government-owned network spends so much of its efforts attracting an audience of children, this moral issue is magnified substantially. Telling my children what to think about political issues is just plain wrong. It should be stopped. The government should get out of the broadcasting business entirely, and let PBS be funded solely by “viewers like you.”
Take that, Cheeko.