Friday, April 30, 2004

Letter writing
In the hopes that writing letters can make a difference, I just sent the following to the producers of the PBS kids show "Between the Lions."

Thank you very much for producing your show. I keep my 2 ½ year old son away from commercial television, but allow him to watch “Between the Lions.” I feel yours is the single best children's television programming running.

Perhaps if I did not hold “Between the Lions” in such high regard, I would not feel the need to complain about the one aspect of your show that troubles me. However, once again today, I was placed in a difficult position as a parent due to the content of the program. The problem I have is the constant display of slabs of meat as wonderful, desirable things. I can appreciate that real lions are carnivorous and the consumption of dead animals is the most desired and life giving thing in their lives. And I have no problem letting Sebastian watch documentaries about felines in which their need for meat is displayed and explained. We even cheerfully share our home with five meat-eating cats!

However, when the lions are as personified as they are in “Between the Lions,” such obsession with meat eating is out of context and unnecessary. For young Sebastian, it is even confusing. In addition to the wonderful lessons that help him learn literacy, he also gets the constant message that eating meat is a good thing. And I, as his stay-at-home father, am faced with the chore of reiterating that the characters on the show are cats, and it's necessary for cats to eat meat.

I also know it is my responsibility as his parent to teach him why a large portion of his culture eats dead animals and why we choose not to. However, just as your show avoids taking stances on issues of religion and politics, and even works to foster multi-cultural understanding (thank you!) you could leave this theme out altogether and avoid sending the inappropriate message that eating meat is a positive thing.

Thank you once again for your wonderful program,
Matthew Ryan
Portland, Oregon

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