PC Sesame Street

Politically-Correct Children

27 July 2023

3.1 MINS

The forces of Political Correctness (PC)  are ever at work, ensuring that all of us – young and old – keep on the straight and narrow of right thinking and right practice. An interesting illustration of this took place in 2002 when it was announced that the popular children’s show, Sesame Street, would feature an HIV-positive character.

The character aired in South Africa and Nigeria, where HIV/AIDS is a big problem. The character’s name, Kami, is derived from Kamogelo, which means acceptance or ‘a welcoming’ in Setswana.

Several questions come to mind concerning this move. While Sub-Saharan Africa does have a big problem with AIDS, is it wise to be targeting children at such a very young age? The average age of a Sesame Street watcher is 2 to 4 years old. Surely this is way too young to be exposed to such complex adult problems as AIDS.

We do not expose such young children to other adult worries, like the drug problem, the war on terror, or heart attacks. Why destroy our children’s innocence? Why cannot we let children be children? They do not need to be exposed to such issues, nor are they ready – mentally, emotionally, or socially – for such issues.


The truth is, HIV/AIDS is mainly a lifestyle-based disease. If you reduce the number of people who behave in certain ways, you reduce the incidence of the disease. Here in Australia, over 85 per cent of HIV/AIDS cases are due to male homosexual activity or intravenous drug use. If you curtail those activities, you greatly reduce the spread of AIDS.

But of course, it is not Politically Correct to say these kinds of things. But they are true nonetheless. There is in fact a greater chance of men getting breast cancer than there is of heterosexuals getting HIV/AIDS. And if you are abstinent until marriage, chaste within marriage, and not an intravenous drug user, you have almost zero chance of contracting the disease.

But abstinence messages are not PC; neither are pro-marriage and pro-chastity messages. Indeed, we know that Sesame Street will not give the whole story on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. This is because it has long pushed a PC line on a number of fronts. It is produced by the Public Broadcasting Service in America. Much like our ABC, the PBS is a left-of-centre voice of PC.

Yet it will be argued that given the problems of AIDS in Africa, an HIV-positive character might be appropriate. Two responses can be made to this.

One, as I pointed out to an AIDS activist on a recent TV debate about the issue, there are plenty of other killers in the world: stroke, cancer, etc. Will Sesame Street feature characters with these problems? I doubt it. It is ignoring diseases that kill many more people in favour of a PC disease. Indeed, it has been noted that HIV/AIDS is the world’s first politically-protected disease.

Instead of treating it like any other infectious disease, with mandatory reporting, strict tracing of carriers, etc., we instead talk about the right of people to make their own lifestyle choices.

Grave Concerns

Two, it is true that AIDS is more of a heterosexual problem in Africa, but this is because of certain activities. If it can be put delicately, many heterosexuals are contracting AIDS in Africa because prostitutes and others often engage in anal intercourse in order to avoid pregnancy. This is a very risky and unsafe practice, and it explains much of the reason for the HIV epidemic there.

It is noteworthy that African countries that do emphasise abstinence and seek to curtail sexual promiscuity have much lower incidences of HIV and STDs. But again, we do not expect Sesame Street to run this line. Instead, it will run the diversity and tolerance line. The real message will be that we should embrace all lifestyles, and make no judgments about a person’s sexuality.

This is simply a recipe for disaster. If certain behaviours are responsible for public health crises, then we should do all we can to dissuade people from such behaviours. And governments do this all the time. They believe that cigarette smoking is dangerous, so they do all they can to discourage the behaviour. So too with drink-driving.

Sexual promiscuity in all forms, including homosexuality, is a dangerous, high-risk behaviour. Governments and TV shows should not encourage such behaviour. They should seek to lessen it, not create a climate to allow more of it.

In an age of PC, where tolerance is the highest good, and common sense is at an all-time low, we should not expect a sudden rush of rationality and morality. However, for the sake of our children, and for the sake of public health, we should all resist this move of Political Correctness by the makers of Sesame Street.


Originally published at CultureWatch. Photo: Dan Rather/Wikimedia Commons

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