On the list of things to worry about in the world, the sexual orientation of an animated rat who plays a tertiary role in a show about an aardvark in elementary school seems to be one thing Republicans are very concerned with.
On Monday, PBS aired the season 22 premiere of its iconic children's show Arthur and the episode, “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” featured the wedding of Arthur and his friends’ third grade teacher Mr. Ratburn to another man, an aardvark named Patrick. The episode did not explicitly use the word “gay.”
The episode did not sit well with Sebastian Gorka, a former Breitbart editor who broadcasts on the show “America First” on Salem Radio Network every day. According to the Washington Post, Gorka has worn symbols associated with a Nazi-aligned Hungarian group to a 2017 inauguration ball.
Gorka said that Arthur’s programming was part of a conspiratorial left-wing ideology that he connected all the way back to the French Reign of Terror.
“Civil society doesn’t exist, friendship doesn’t exist, family doesn’t exist,” Gorka said. “Only permanent revolution.” He said that Arthur was trying to change the idea of the family unit.
“Did you have any questions about there being a culture war, ladies and gentlemen?” Gorga asked rhetorically. “Did you have any doubt in your mind?” Gorka proclaimed that the episode was a sign that “this is a war for our culture.”
Gorka was a Fox News contributor up until this year, when he left the network to pursue radio and snipe at animated aardvarks. Arthur and friends have made conservative enemies before.
Franklin Graham, the right-wing preacher who recently said that Pete Buttigieg would face "eternal damnation" for his sexuality also weighed in on the episode on his Facebook page, saying that the series was "promoting the LGBTQ agenda."
"Why should our government be financing programming that promotes behavior the Bible says is sinful?" Graham said of the PBS show. "I sure don’t want my tax dollars going toward that. I think many viewers may be surprised and disappointed in this content decision. I hope everyone will rise up and clearly tell PBS that they do not want to see this kind of programming slipped in to try to influence the hearts and minds of our children and grandchildren."
In 2005, PBS was forced to pull an episode of the Arthur spinoff Postcards from Buster in which Buster visited a family with lesbian mothers. Before it aired, former education secretary Margaret Spellings asked PBS to pull the episode because it featured a same-sex couple. Arthur creator Marc Brown said he was “disappointed” by PBS’s decision to comply with Spellings’ request.
“What we are trying to do in the series is connect kids with other kids by reflecting their lives,” Brown said. “In some episodes, as in the Vermont one, we are validating children who are seldom validated. We believe that ‘Postcards From Buster’ does this in a very natural way — and, as always, from the point of view of children.”