What Falwell was referring to are the gay activists — the ones who spit the Eucharist on the floor at St. Patrick's Cathedral, blamed Reagan for AIDS, and keep trying to teach small schoolchildren about "fisting."
Also the ones who promote the gay lifestyle in a children's cartoon.
Beginning in early 1998, the news was bristling with stories about a children's cartoon PBS was importing from Britain that featured a gay cartoon character, Tinky Winky, the purple Teletubbie with a male voice and a red handbag.
People magazine gleefully reported that Teletubbies was "aimed at Telebabies as young as 1 year. But teenage club kids love the products' kitsch value, and gay men have made the purse-toting Tinky Winky a camp icon."
In the Nexis archives for 1998 alone, there are dozens and dozens of mentions of Tinky Winky being gay — in periodicals such as Newsweek, The Toronto Star, The Washington Post (twice!), The New York Times and Time magazine (also twice).
In its Jan. 8, 1999, issue, USA Today accused The Washington Post of "outing" Tinky Winky, with a "recent Washington Post In/Out list putting T.W. opposite Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, essentially 'outing' the kids' show character."
Michael Musto of The Village Voice boasted that Tinky Winky was "out and proud," noting that it was "a great message to kids — not only that it's OK to be gay, but the importance of being well accessorized."
All this appeared before Falwell made his first mention of Tinky Winky.
After one year of the mainstream media laughing at having put one over on stupid bourgeois Americans by promoting a gay cartoon character in a TV show for children, when Falwell criticized the cartoon in February 1999, that same mainstream media howled with derision that Falwell thought a cartoon character could be gay.
OK, I made it as clear as possible, so I'm sure you noticed it. Coulter repeatedly refers to Tinky Winky as a cartoon character. When if she had watched even 10 seconds of the show, she would realize that Teletubbies is live-action.
I know this sounds like I'm being insanely picky. Live-action, shmive action, who cares? Why do I get to call bullshit? This is why: it looks like Coulter did a quick Nexis search, saw how many stories claimed Tinky Winky was gay, and decided "Hey, there's a column in this."
Whereas, if she were me, and had actually spent a couple of years letting her children watch Teletubbies, not only would she realize that Teletubbies is live-action, not animated, she would also realize that post-modern intellectuals, Queer Theorists, and media pundits can all agree on something, and it still doesn't mean jack shit.
The program's target audience wouldn't know a gay icon if it dropped its red pocketbook and came up and kissed them. A two- or three- or four-year-old doesn't know from gay. Anyone who has spent time raising children realizes this.
Also, the whole matter of being a "gay icon" is problematical at best. I mean, Judy Garland is the biggest gay icon I can think of. Does that mean my kids shouldn't watch The Wizard of Oz? And if they do watch it, and my son grows up to be a ballet-dancing interior-decorating homosexual, who gets the credit, me or Judy Garland?
Does anyone else out there suspect that regular columnists sometimes run out of anything original to say, so they pick a non-issue to rant about? I mean, everyone knows inspiration palls from time to time, but honestly, how low can you go? It's just too easy. It's so ... intellectually cheap.
Yeah, I should find someone better to pick on. And leave Ann Coulter alone.