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The war on Big Bird

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Republicans are trying to kill Big Bird-- and some of the best broadcasting in America.
  • Republicans are trying to kill Big Bird— and some of the best broadcasting in America.

In the next week Congress will vote on a series of bills which would cut all federal funding for local public television and radio. I don't want to live in a world without Fresh Air, Sesame Street or the only local news that isn't supersaturated with diet fads and sensationalist murder stories.

It wasn't so long ago that I was crawling around on the floor in a room scattered with pieces of construction paper and kids my mom was babysitting, trying to follow along with Bob Ross's paintings. No matter how simple and slow he explained what he was doing...I could never get it right. I think he was on PED's.

When I was in college and fully lusting to quench my thirst to know everything about everything (to say I came up short is an understatement) it was the evening documentaries that were the only TV worth watching.

These days, when I'm driving my 1994 Ford Escort to work and it's zero degrees outside and I can't see out the windshield because I don't have any heat, the voices of Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne make the day seem a little more hopeful. The news on NPR isn't just fair and accurate— it's also hopeful, positive and most importantly—subtly enlightening. PBS, NPR and—on a local level—WFYI are the last truly reliable sources for news, documentaries and substantial kid's programming.

And the value of public broadcasting seems to become exponential as life goes on. I'm going to be a first-time father in August, and I'll be damned if my kids don't get to grow up with Sesame Street. The kids' programs on PBS are the only place where a child can safely watch television without being bombarded with gender-polarizing commercials and obnoxious characters competing to out-annoy one another. So to say that public broadcasting has been instrumental in my coming of age is less than hyperbole.

Apparently, these values— thirst for knowledge, cultural intrigue, and wanting your kids to grow up with hope are partisan issues.

If the proposed bills were to be approved, some of the local stations would survive a funding cut, and some of them wouldn't. I don't want to leave it to chance, but this could just be the most recent in an increasingly long line of "Oh, shit" bills that conservatives are proposing out of desperation; now that they've been elected they realized that none of their idealistic campaign promises were plausible, and they're trying to ride out their terms proposing bills that no one will vote for... just to make it look like they're trying to reduce the deficit and create jobs.

You know what doesn't create jobs? Cutting them. By the thousands.

That's what would happen if public broadcasting lost its funding, and if that happens, I just might lose my mind on my way to work in the mornings in my 94 Ford Escort. Because there's no cd-player, and I'm not listening to any of the 86 country stations in this town or X.103 playing Alice in Chains every nine minutes. And I'll blow my brains out before my kid watches Yo Gabba Gabba while I'm eating my Lucky Charms.

Click here to find out how to contact your local representative and tell them to quit trying to kill off the last legitimate broadcast media.

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