Sponge Bob subverting ego ciphering of Fox News devotees

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, August 4, 2011 12:58 EDT
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Media Matters has a report on the newest lie machine faux scandal being pumped by Fox News: the claim that the Department of Education is using Sponge Bob Squarepants to tell kids about global warming without telling them that it's "controversial", which is a little like being mad that the school teachers are telling kids that two plus two equals four when some cranks in a basement say it actually equals five.  I'm really unsure how you would even introduce the "controversy" to the age group that likes Sponge Bob.  How do you convey that there's scientific consensus on an issue, but that there's also a media-manufactured controversy fueled by people who present themselves like experts, but who aren't actually experts?  What Fox News is suggesting, of course, is that we don't do that but just instead lie to kids the way they lie to you.  

And what's interesting is that this sort of thing might have traction.  The underlying assumption here is that parents have a right to have everyone else conspire to keep information from their children that could, once absorbed by the children, make them realize that for all their parents' blather about "family values", they literally care so little for their children's future that they're willing to destroy the planet they leave to their children just so they can air condition buildings to sweater temperatures and drive oversized status symbol cars.  And a lot of people buy that assumption!  In fact, one of the sacrosanct values of American culture is our belief that children are basically ciphers for parental egos, and parents have an overriding right to feed their kids all sorts of bullshit and even, at times, withhold necessary medical care because they've got some kind of quirky religious or New Age belief that their magic is better for them.  I think a lot of people would really get mad if you said that parents actually shouldn't have a right, for instance, to tell their kid whatever political lies they want and then proceed to shield them from facts.  

Which isn't to say I'm against the notion that parents should have control over their children.  But I construe that as a responsibility, not a right.  Children are just people who haven't really had a lot of experience dealing with the negative consequences of poor choices, and so parents are there to force them to make better choices until they grow up and accumulate enough experience that they can start making their own mistakes, and then some time around 30, they finally grow up.  But people have taken what should be a responsibility—making your kid do their homework, making them go to the doctor, making them eat their vegetables—and have determined that this level of control is actually a right.  A right to shape your child in your own ego-driven image, which we as a country euphemize with terms like "teaching values".  But a lot of the time you aren't actually teaching a kid values!  A lot of the "values" that get taught are not values at all, as evidenced by Fox News calling parent rights on teaching kids to squander our limited resources on the only planet we've got.

Not sure how to resolve this problem, since we have to give parents power over their children, and power is known to corrupt.  But I do somehow think that Facebook encouraging more sonogram pictures with the "Expected: Child" option isn't making things any better. 

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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