Tolerance is a lesson for people of all ages - Tamara Boatwright

I put on my Birkenstock sandals, combed my very short hair, made sure I had two earrings in both ears, turned on the television and waited for the urge to become a homosexual to wash over me.

Drats, nothing happened.

You see I was watching SpongeBob Square Pants, that evil little cuss who, along with Dora the Explorer, Barney, Big Bird and other brightly colored cartoon characters is attempting to teach our children tolerance.

Oh my, we can't have that.

In the past few weeks there has been plenty of brouhaha over Dr. James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family and a website, www.wearefamilyfoundation.org which states as its mission, "We Are Family Foundation celebrates our common humanity and the vision of a global family by creating and supporting programs that inspire and educate individuals of all ages about diversity, understanding, respect and multiculturalism; and to support those who are victims of intolerance."

On the We Are Family site are items like "101 Tools for Tolerance; Simple Ideas for Promoting Equity and Celebrating Diversity." The organization's benefactors include the Jim Henson Company - home of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy; the Disney Channel; Nickelodeon and Tolerance.org - which is associated with the Southern Poverty Law Center of Montgomery, Ala.

And guess who is on the Board of Governors - Alan Osmond, brother of 70s heartthrob and devout Mormon, Donny Osmond. And, gasp! Talk show hosts Larry King and Montel Williams among others.

Mormons and talkers and blacks, oh my!

In his February letter Dobson says he has little issue with Sponge, Big Bird "or any of their cartoon friends," but he does take issue with the way they are being "hijacked to promote an agenda that involves teaching homosexual propaganda to children." He says most of the homosexual content at wearefamily.org disappeared or became inaccessible two days after the issue hit the press Jan. 21.

Now, I'm sure Dobson is a truthful man and believes in what he sees as his mission, but I looked and looked at the site that Friday and nothing like that jumped out at me.

But I think we're all missing the big picture here. Tolerance. Defined by Webster's it is "recognition of and respect for the opinion, beliefs, or actions of others."

I find it truly odd that someone's sexual preference is such an issue in a society where the top rated television show is "Desperate Housewives." A television show that deals with infidelity but infidelity among heterosexuals so I guess that makes it kinda OK - at least to the people who watch it.

So what should we learn from this?

Should we talk to our children about tolerance? Should we talk about the fact that some people look at love differently than others, that some people's skin is a different color that some people believe differently than others, that we live on a planet and not just in a country? Should we tell our children that it's not OK to call names and beat people up because they are different?

Why are we even asking ourselves those questions?

In the 60s it was the blacks. Then came the women's movement. Now the hot button issue is homosexuals. It could be blue-eyed, freckle-face people next. I'd better watch out.

Tamara Boatwright is the managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. She may be reached at tboatwright@news-daily.com or at (770) 478-5753 ext. 272.