SpeakSpeak News


Buster’s Busted

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 06/09/2005 @ 8:48 pm

A House committee has voted to defund Ready to Learn, the Department of Education program that found trouble when Buster crossed paths with lesbians.

From Broadcasting & Cable:

The over-$200 million in cuts could still be restored in the Senate, as has been the case with previous cuts. But Association of Public Television Stations President John Lawson was characterizing the House vote as a “direct attack on public television and radio,” which he called “some of the last, locally controlled and independent media voices in our country.”

Lawson saw the RTL cut as a punitive action stemming from the Buster controversy. He also called the $90 million cut from CPB’s forward funding a threat to its editorial freedom. “Without the ability to rely on advance appropriations, public broadcasters lose an important firewall against influence in political programming decisions,” he said.

Democratic members of the House Appropriations Committee were equally angered by the cuts, saying Republican leaders have been “using every vehicle of the Federal Government to push their right-wing ideology,” including public broadcasting. “First they are trying to co-opt America’s public broadcasting stations,” the Democrats said in a statement. “Now, they are trying to bankrupt them.”

The Ready to Learn program used the DOE’s and PBS’ combined strengths to “assist parents and early childhood educators across the nation to use public television resources to help children love learning.”

Jeez. Teaching kids to ‘love learning’? Can’t spend money on that!

From the RTL website:

Second only to parents, television is the young child’s most influential teacher. Nothing else in our culture can match television’s ability to influence how children learn, think, and act. Given the power of television, young children need adults to help them become wise television users. Many studies show that with selective viewing, television can contribute to school readiness. To help children get the most from the TV they watch, parents must take responsibility to supervise and guide their children’s TV viewing.

Yeah, that program really sucked.


Buster’s Best Lesbian Friends to Receive “Families and Courage” Award

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 06/07/2005 @ 11:44 am

Gillian Pieper and Karen Pike, the two mom’s featured briefly in the “Sugartime!” episode of PBS’ Postcards from Buster, will receive an award from gay rights group The Pride Coalition.

You’ll remember, of course, that brand-new US Education Secretary Margaret Spellings threatened to defund PBS if they aired the decidedly inoffensive episode, in which animated Buster learns about maple syrup from a girl with a couple of lesbian moms.

Pieper and Pike said they were touched to receive the award.

“As parents, we feel fairly humble about such an honor because we simply did what any mother would deem necessary,” said Pieper. “When bullies come knocking, you stand up for your child’s safety and rights. We acted on instinct. The real courage lies in our children who stood up along side us and fought for their family’s right to be seen and loved by America. That’s courage.”

Story here.


AFA Mobilizes to Back Spellings on ‘Buster’

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 05/03/2005 @ 9:24 am

The American Family Association whipped its troops into action, again, and sent letters of support to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings over her criticism of the PBS show “Postcards from Buster.”

As we all know by now, Buster traveled to Vermont during one episode, where he briefly encountered – gasp! – lesbians. Spellings, on her second day on the job, remarked that “many parents would not want their young children exposed to the life-styles portrayed in [the] episode.”

But back to the AFA. According to USA Today, Spellings received almost 200,000 letters and emails on the subject, and she claims that over 80% supported her position. More than 150,000 of those came from the American Family Association.

“This issue really resonated, especially with parents of younger children,” AFA director Randy Sharp said. “They want to know that their tax dollars are not going to be used to create programs which promote things they inherently are opposed to.”

From USA Today.


Buster Does Maine

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/11/2005 @ 11:11 am

Officials at Maine Public Broadcasting have finally decided to air the “Sugartime!” episode of “Postcards from Buster.”

The decision follows a public meeting of the affiliate’s community advisory board.

Opponents of the episode quoted from the Bible and said it would be wrong to present a sinful lifestyle to children.

Supporters countered by saying that censoring the program would label gays and lesbians as second-class people.

“From where I´m sitting, that says to me my right to exist, who I am and was born to be, and my family´s right to exist, is controversial,” said Donna Senkbeil of Durham, who is raising a child with her lesbian partner. “That’s scary to me.”

But the Rev. Douglas Taylor of The Jesus Party Inc., a church in Lewiston, characterized the episode as an insidious attempt to legitimize a new definition of family that is immoral and counter to his religion.

Another report tells of Taylor cuddling a stuffed bunny marked with the words “Don’t Pervert My Show.” “You put gay in the music and the movies and the TV,” Taylor said, “and we’re putting filth in the house and introducing the gay agenda.”

Here’s a little Buster brush-up.


“Buster” Family Turns Lesbianism into Lemonade

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 03/27/2005 @ 3:57 pm

The now-famous two-mother Vermont family that once hosted an afternoon with Buster is going strong – and has polished the silver lining of the Buster contoversy.

Emma, the girl who had a chat with Buster during the episode – and who has two moms – was initially shocked when she heard that the program might not air. “She was told it’s not going to run,” said Mom #1, “and it’s not because you didn’t do a good job. It’s because the government officials don’t think your family is appropriate for other kids to know about.”

Her best friend Lily, who also has two moms, was shocked as well: “It’s not unnormal, is it?”

After the dust settled a bit, Emma had interviews with the New York Times and The Washington Post.

According to the Portland Press Herald:

The irony of the flap over the show is that it has drawn far more attention to the lives of the two families than the show itself probably would have had it aired as planned.

“Hundreds of thousands of people have been exposed to this story . . This is a much bigger issue than ‘Does Buster get to run?’ ” [Emma’s mother, Karen] Pike said.

“They realize now that this was much bigger,” Pike said of how the children’s disappointment and anger has given them a chance to speak publicly. “Not only did they get to show off Vermont, they got to make a statement.”

In the Portland Press Herald.

San Antonio Group To Screen Buster

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 03/27/2005 @ 10:17 am

The Esperanza Center, a political justice organization in San Antonio, will give Buster Bunny his film festival debut this week. The CineMujer festival will “highlight the hopes, the struggles and the perseverance of women around the world.”

The Esperanzas are planning a “surprise special screening of the censored ‘Sugartime!’ episode.” San Antonio’s PBS affiliate, KLRN, refused to air the episode.

Though no date and time for the screening have been announced, the festival will also feature the Australian film “Rabbit Proof Fence.” Smart money’s on a tie-in.

From the San Antonio Express-News and the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center.


Buster Airs in New England; World Does Not End

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 03/24/2005 @ 7:13 am

New Hampshire Public Television aired the “Sugartime!” episode of Postcards from Buster last night at 10 p.m. Vermont Public Television also aired the program on Wednesday. Both stations report that the calls and emails they receive were primarily in favor of the decision.

It will probably be decades before we know how badly the children were scarred.

In the Portland Press Herald and WCAX.


Buster Finds “Safe Harbor”

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 03/21/2005 @ 7:30 am

A New Hampshire PBS station will finally air the controversial (and anti-climatic) “Sugartime” episode of Postcards from Buster.

At 10 p.m.

After the big hand indicates that they’re within the FCC’s “safe harbor.”

From the Portland Press Herald.


PBS Drops Buster’s Lesbian Friends… Again

Filed under  by John Torrey — 03/10/2005 @ 9:51 am

In an effort to further divorce themselves from reality, PBS has again decided against putting lesbians on tv…for fear their lesbian mind control will flow out of television sets and into the impressionable brains of red-state children everywhere. Karen Pike, one of the lesbian moms featured in the original ‘Sugartime!’ episode was scheduled to appear on PBS’s NOW. Unfortunately, PBS decided to drop the story before it made it to air for fear they were “behind the news cycle.”
Read all about it in the Washington Post (it’s half way down the page, after the review of Rather’s final ‘Courage’).


Buster Commentary

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 03/08/2005 @ 9:00 am

From Faith Rogow, founding president of Alliance for a Media Literate America:

Some parents have objected to including lesbian parents in a [the “Sugartime” episode of “Postcards from Buster"] because they believe that they should have the right to decide when and how to expose their children to this “lifestyle.” Sorry, but that train has come and gone. There are tens of thousands of gay and lesbian parents in the United States. Hundreds live with their children right here in our own community. Are we really prepared to be cruel enough to say to real children from a real family who opened their home to the cameras, “Sorry, we can show all kinds of families, but not yours"?

WSKG is right to ignore education secretary’s bias


“Buster” To Be Netcast

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 03/07/2005 @ 5:51 pm

After a threat from US Ed chief Margaret Spellings bumped it from PBS affiliates across the country, Postcards from Buster is to get its due on the web.

The Family Pride Coalition will make the famed “Sugartime” episode available for viewing on its website until March 13th. The organization will also hold a “virtual rally” on March 10th “to express outrage at the harmful rhetoric being espoused by the Department of Education, the very department responsible for leading the nation’s education agenda.”

Until then, watch the video, which is notably lacking any steamy hot lesbian action.


Underground Buster Screening at DC Church

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 03/05/2005 @ 8:55 pm

“Like forbidden dissenters in some intolerant land, a couple hundred families took refuge in a church basement in Washington yesterday for a morning of dangerous television. So controversial were the images that the Bush administration wants its underwriting money back. So subversive was its plot that the local public television station refused to air it.”

Debbie Does Dallas?

Nope. Buster Does Vermont.

From What Has Floppy Ears And a Subversive Tale? in the Washington Post.


More Fun with Buster

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 02/25/2005 @ 9:39 am

Spellings, the Madame Defarge of President Bush’s administration, huffed and puffed that many parents “would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in this episode.'’

Uh, “lifestyles,'’ Madame Secretary?

Buster shares some cheesecake with the women, not Rosie O’Donnell’s luffa. Who knew that indulging in cheesecake was part of the - all together now - homosexual agenda?

Spellings appears to believe some 4-year-old girl watching this brief segment would turn to her mother and say: “Mommy, I want to be a lesbian and eat cheesecake, too!”

Daniel Ruth in the Tampa Tribune.


Frank Rich Indecency Roundup

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 02/24/2005 @ 9:06 am

From Oscar to Homer, Buster to Bozell: Frank Rich.


O’Reilly’s recipe for foot soup

Filed under  by John Torrey — 02/17/2005 @ 4:05 pm

Fox News star and Mediteranian food enthusiast Bill O’Reilly weighs in on the Buster situation. Apparently, Buster running in to a family of lesbians in VT is the equivalent of Sesame Street spotlighting an S&M club in the Village.

Read all about Bill’s pithy comments over at Media Matters for America.


Buster/Lesbian Redux

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 02/15/2005 @ 8:12 am

CNN commentary on the Buster debate.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “In Spellings’ definition, it’s fine to teach children about tolerance when it comes to race, class, culture and religion, but not sexual orientation.”

Ventura County Star: “The pleas come wrapped in terms of morality and decency to make the outcome more palatable, but don’t be fooled. Those who have taken it upon themselves to determine what constitutes acceptable entertainment do not work in your best interests or in the best interests of a free nation. ”


Children’s Show Faces PBS Inquiry

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 02/11/2005 @ 7:09 am

The head of PBS has ordered an internal review of the children’s show “Postcards From Buster” after Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and other critics attacked an episode that featured real-life lesbian mothers.

Pat Mitchell, president and chief executive of the Public Broadcasting Service, said in an interview Thursday that she had asked an internal team to analyze events leading up to the controversial “Buster” episode. The team will outline the chronology and seek input from the series’ producers at Boston public television station WGBH, Mitchell said.

PBS is taking the steps because it “wants to avoid confusion and controversy,” she told the Los Angeles Times.

Children’s Show Faces PBS Inquiry


Buster in the Mile-High City

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 02/09/2005 @ 8:24 am

Denver’s KBDI will air Buster tonight at 7 p.m., followed by a 90-minute panel discussion about the program. The discussion will take viewer calls. If you’re a local, speak up!

In the Rocky Mountain News.


A Child Learns a Harsh Lesson in Politics

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 02/05/2005 @ 10:15 am

The New York Times has an article about Emma, the little girl who introduces Buster to her moms in the “Sugartime!” episode.

“I was pretty upset when the show was canceled, because I was very excited about it,” Emma said in a telephone interview from her home in Vermont. “I know some people don’t like gays and lesbians because they think they are bad people. That’s just a stereotype and it’s kind of hurtful. I don’t think people should think of us as very different. We are just the same except we have two moms.”

A Child Learns a Harsh Lesson in Politics


Salon.com on PBS and Buster

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 02/04/2005 @ 10:12 am

“For PBS insiders and longtime supporters, the skirmish, and the speed with which PBS backed down in the face of threats from the Bush administration, mark a new low point for the broadcasting institution and a dangerous development for the public. Low because the content of the “Buster” episode was so innocuous. And dangerous because it highlights the inside-the-Beltway environment in which PBS is forced to operate, where funding concerns often trump programming decisions, and the fear of upsetting conservatives has become a driving force.”

Read it in Salon. (You must watch a short ad for the excellent Powell’s Books before accessing the story. But, the ad has kittens, so who cares?)

Activists (Like You) Condemn PBS for Caving to Criticism

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 02/04/2005 @ 7:26 am

Activists condemn PBS for caving to administration criticism

Editorial: FEDS VS. BUSTER: Secretary of Education needs a lesson on tolerance


DOE Disinvites Buster Producer

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 02/03/2005 @ 9:12 am

Broadcasting & Cable - DOE Disinvites Buster Producer
According to WGBH and PBS, the Department of Education has quietly disinvited Carol Greenwald, executive producer of WGBH/PBS’ Postcards from Buster, from speaking at a children’s-TV conference the DOE is co-sponsoring with PBS in Baltimore Friday.


OPB Makes Buster Late Night Fare

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 02/02/2005 @ 9:19 am

Oregon Public Broadcasting (Portland) has announced that it will air Buster’s “Sugartime!” However, it is airing the program at 10:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.

“We have had overwhelming response from viewers who want access to this episode. OPB has decided to air this episode in a late-night time slot to allow parents the opportunity to record the program, preview it and determine whether or not they wish their children to view it,” said OPB’s president.

Question: Is it a victory that they’re airing the show? Or, is it a defeat that they’re airing it in a timeslot that is basically inaccessible to children? Are they treating the show with the respect it deserves, or are they likening it to bunny porn?

We want to know what you think.


Write PBS – Now!

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 01/28/2005 @ 9:08 am

Today’s LA Times reports that local PBS affiliates’ are having to decide whether to run the “controversial” Sugartown! episode of “Postcards from Buster.” (Remember? The one where Buster Bunny runs into some Vermont lesbians and the world doesn’t end?)

Please contact your local PBS affiliate and ask them not to censor this episode. The brand new Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, has said that “many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in this episode.”

Prove her wrong. Write PBS.

Use the PBS station finder to obtain the email address for your local affiliate.

Send them an email, and cc info[at]speakspeak[dot]org. A sample letter can be found in the comments section of this entry.

This is important.


More Cowering at PBS

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 01/26/2005 @ 8:24 am

PBS has decided not to distribute an animated kids’ show about bunnies because it features lesbian couples as auxilliary characters. The Bush Administration’s new education secretary, Margaret Spellings, criticized the episode of “Postcards of Buster,” saying that it should not have been made using Department of Ed funding.

“Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode,” said Spellings in a letter to PBS CEO Pat Mitchell. Spellings also encouraged PBS to refund the federal money it had spent on producing the program.

According to the Associated Press, Spellings issued three additional “requests":

She asked that her department’s seal or any statement linking the department to the show be removed. She asked PBS to notify its member stations of the nature of show so they could review it before airing it. And she asked for the refund “in the interest of avoiding embroiling the Ready-To-Learn program in a controversy that will only hurt” it.

SpeakSpeak encourages you to send letters of complaint to the Department of Ed and, again, to PBS for this namby-pamby kow-towing to the vocal minority. You will be able to do this from our site later today.

Read the full story here.

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