The sponge lobby 

If this is truly a country in which the majority of citizens feel threatened or offended by an animated sponge that wears square pants and may be gay, then I’m ready to head to Zihuatanejo and set up shop on the beach as an expatriate T-shirt, fish taco and Vioxx vendor, waiting patiently to discover the image of a crucified Mel Gibson on a tortilla, sell it on eBay, and retire.

If you’re one of that supposed moral majority who blanches at even the thought of Sponge Bob recruiting impressionable young sponges into a homosexual lifestyle, let me calm your fears and settle the whole controversy: Sponges are hermaphrodites. Biologically, they can’t be gay. They can admire the ass on — and buy cosmopolitans for — any sponge they want, have twice the chances of going home with a cute poriferum, and choose whichever set of sex organs they need to keep it straight. Of course, if they strike out, they can always go home alone, fertilize their own eggs and produce little larvae with their own doubled chance of getting action on a Saturday night.

Ah, but I may just have neutered my own argument in trying to calm the anti-gay sponge lobby. I can hear those aggressively righteous wheels turning in sanctified brains all over the country. Sponge Bob is a, uh, a morphadite! This could mean he’s promoting auto-eroticism behind the thin facade of entertaining a nation’s children, yes? Well, you don’t have to think long to reach the logical conclusion: If Sponge Bob Square Pants recruits enough of our children, next thing you know they’ll be staying home, hiding in their rooms and going at themselves in a sweat-soaked frenzy, innocently thinking they, too, have both sets of sex organs. Our reproduction rates will dive and America will lose its place as a world power while our children live to shop at Banana Republic or L.L. Bean, and either stop shaving their body hair, or have their under brows waxed, each according to his or her wont.

I actually heard a middle-aged voter say essentially the same thing during the last election campaign when asked why she was in favor of banning gay marriages. And now she, and presumably enough like-minded people to win or steal a second term for our latter-day Burning Bush, set the standard for decency in our United States.

But to really take off, they needed a symbol for their standard, and they latched on to Janet Jackson’s boob.

Never mind that virtually every one of the 240,000 complaints filed with the Federal Communications Commission the year before came from a single source, the previously impotent (sexually conflicted?) Parents Television Council. In reporting this, online industry journal Mediaweek quoted the PTC’s annual report in which it boasted about “cutting-edge technology” allowing members to file a complaint with the FCC, the networks and program sponsors with a simple click of the bitch-button.

It also cited the FCC’s own findings that a proposed $1.2 million in fines against the Fox show Married by America resulted from 90 complaints by 23 individuals, all but four of the beefs identical, and only one from someone who had actually watched the allegedly offensive program. This, from an estimated viewership of more than 5 million households.

At a time when the free marketplace of ideas promised by American democracy is being controlled by fewer and fewer voices in the ongoing consolidation of corporate media giants, this should throw more than one knot into all of our colons.

I know I’m taking a chance in writing that. Someone may think using the word “colon” is an endorsement of gay sex, gather up six friends and boycott drug-free urine advertisers, life-blood of this newspaper.

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