P.C. Dunderheads and Sesame Street

nationalcookieday.jpgOkay, I’ll admit it: I did go to the link on the Muppet Wiki and read the transcript on how the show explained Mr. Hooper’s Death, and I did get a little teary.  Thank you, Christy, for sharing this with me. I think I was a little older than the average viewing audience of Sesame Street when Mr. Hooper died, but I still remember it affecting me. I forgot that they aired this episode during the Thanksgiving Holiday to make sure that there were adults around to help children understand and cope with the message on the show.

This reminder of Sesame Street’s history of dealing with difficult topics for children as well as the joy and love of learning the show promoted caused me to wonder about some of the overly politically correct whitewashing that can happen these days. It’s quite ironic really the original intent of P.C. was to handle terminology around diverse people in a respectful and friendly way, and bring to the forefront of language and discourse some of the unpleasant things we hid under the carpet during the oppressive and dismissive era of the 50’s and before. However, in a way P.C. can become just as oppressive as the antediluvian mores that dominated previous times. I’m not saying that P.C. isn’t well intended, or that it’s okay to blurt out racial epithets in public a la Archie Bunker or support racist legislation, I’m just saying we should use our heads more about how we talk about or to others with respect, people. Maybe our children will learn from our example.

Mark Your Calendars for National Cookie Day – December 4th

However, on a brighter side, I did find out that National Cookie Day is coming up: December 4.

I’m actually thinking of doing a batch of Christmas Cookies a little early for a winter tea party, so I’ll be able to celebrate National Cookie Day in style.


3 Responses to “P.C. Dunderheads and Sesame Street”

  1. 1 Christy Tucker November 30, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    Well, I feel better knowing I’m not the only one who got teary reading that transcript.

    I wonder if part of the problem with PC is that it relies too much on setting strict boundaries and rules for language and behavior, without really talking about respect and individuality or addressing the real underlying problems. Maybe instead of a set of hard-and-fast rules for what words are good or bad, we could talk about guidelines and encourage people to think before they open their mouths. Yes, the language we use is very important, and word choice matters, but so do the conversations around what words we use.

    Of course, that kind of model requires assuming that people are generally good and want to be good to each other–and I’m not sure that’s the attitude behind the “PC Dunderheads.”

  2. 2 nkilkenny November 30, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    You’ve made a good point, yet again, Christy. I suppose the title is due to my frustration with some of the decisions that are made when it comes to people who enforce their ideas about what is politically correct without thinking about the restrictive consequences. Perhaps it’s just easier to prohibit rather than to allow people to think and explore why things are. I think that this becomes even more problematic around children because we want to protect them from ideas that may be harmful. I suppose the truth is no idea is harmful, it’s just how we apply them. The difficulty with kids too is that they don’t haven’t honed their capacity to determine distinctions between what’s ‘good’/’bad.’ But overly shielding them from things can’t be right. If we do that then we raise a group of adults who really can’t think for themselves.

  3. 3 Rory December 1, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    “But overly shielding them from things can’t be right.” … Amen! … (by way of analogy) A child who may eat dirt when playing outside and is playing with other children, who are sniffling and coughing and the like … will eventually get a boost to their immune system due to being exposed to those dirty/nasty/yucky germs in the first place. Insulating the child from this stuff = poor immunity = more illness in the long term.

    So might it be with respect to ideas/thought. Keeping in mind that there is such a thing as ‘age appropriate,’ which is the purview of the child’s parents – the parent has the right and ought to determine what information their child is exposed to … Yet shielding kids from ideas does nothing to prepare them, as you rightly note, for thinking for themselves and for handling these ideas when they are confronted with them.

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