Bryan Fischer: ‘New Yorker’ Promoting Child Abuse with Bert and Ernie Cover

AFA spokeshater Bryan Fischer cites the debunked Mark Regnerus study on gay parenting to accuse The New Yorker of promoting child abuse with its cover featuring Bert and Ernie.

Writes Fischer:

The cover features the two muppets, who according to Sesame Street "have no sexual orientation," cuddling romantically on a couch in a darkened room in front of a TV set picturing the Supreme Court, which of course has just issued a ruling overturning the federal definition of marriage as exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

This is shameless, using figures who are iconic to children to promote sexual deviancy. And worse, it is dangerous and irresponsible.

According to the most extensive research on the subject ever done, Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas concluded that adults who grow up in homosexual households fare worse on 77 of 80 outcomes compared to children raised in an intact biological family…

(cites a laundry list of false and debunked information)

…It is thus clear from the best in social research that being raised in a same-sex environment poses completely unacceptable risks to vulnerable young children.

By promoting same-sex marriage, and using Sesame Street to do it, the New Yorker staff in effect is promoting child abuse. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Meanwhile,  Flavorwire's Tyler Coates is upset about the cover for different reasons:

First of all, the notion that Bert and Ernie are gay lovers is ridiculous, and the propagation of the narrative is a childish statement that says more about the sexually obsessed and slightly homophobic tendencies of our culture. Homophobic? Absolutely: it’s a continuation of the idea that sexuality affects personality as much as it speaks of our obsession with outing the private lives of public individuals — in this case fictional characters that most of us grew up with. “Bert and Ernie are two boys who live together! They must be gay!” In what way is that not some borderline schoolyard obsession with the idea of two dicks touching each other? It isn’t nice when it’s aggressive, and it’s certainly not cute when it’s pushed upon two fictional characters in a supposedly charming attempt to symbolize an entire community’s struggle with acceptance and equality, even if the intentions are lighthearted and fun.

Because here’s the thing: there’s nothing particularly fun about being victimized and marginalized not just by the mainstream community but also within the community to which one belongs. There’s also nothing breezy about having one’s emotions manipulated or infantilized by a national publication whose primary goal is to sell copies of a magazine. You know what kind of image would have been nice to see on The New Yorker cover? Perhaps one of actual gay and lesbian couples. Were the magazine’s designers struggling to find one that anyone might recognize? How about Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, whose relationship was at the center of the case that determined DOMA was unconstitutional in the first place? Did they need help finding one?

In related news, Gawker notes that the image on the cover, which was submitted via Tumblr, has been around for awhile, though slightly altered for the SCOTUS ruling..

The TV screen has since been modified from a grainy Obama shot to a grainy Supreme Court portrait, as you can see. But otherwise, the design and ("Innocence. Lost.") spirit are the same.



  1. says

    speaking of child abuse, Hey Catholics, don’tcha think 8 years old is a little young to be telling your kids that they’re full of sins they need to confess to some creepy man in a darkened closet? just sayin’….

  2. Moz's says

    as if conservatives haven’t hated sesame street for decades

    1- multi-racial
    2- socialist PBS
    3- promotes getting along and sharing = socialist
    etc etc

    clutching their pearls and smelling salts over the NY cover is just meh, who cares

  3. says

    i’d say both fischer and tyler coates are a little uptight. jesus. yeah i think it’s tacky (at best) but there are certainly more important things in the world to focus on than the cover of a magazine. get a life!

  4. Jack M says

    I think the cover is kinda dumb, but I’m starting to agree with the other posters who are tired of all the posts on this website about the haters. Can’t we just ignore them?

  5. anon says

    I didn’t know kids read the New Yorker. I don’t know many adults that read it either.

    DOMA might have been repealed by congress years ago in 2009, but no, we had to wait another four years.

  6. Caliban says

    Uh, HELLO?! It was the RELIGIOUS RIGHT who started all this “Bert & Ernie (and Tinky-Winky, Spongebob, Batman & Robin, etc.) are GAY!” bullcr@p to begin with! It was they who spent WAY too much time thinking about the sex lives and puppets and cartoons in the first place.

    So some artist took their OWN paranoid fantasies about subliminal gay cultural messaging and used it in a positive way and now they’re blaming other people for it?!

    I believe the Bible they claim to love so much calls that “reaping what you sow.”

    And let’s not forget that screaming like scalded cats about what poor little “victims” they are is their raison d’etre, so indeed who cares what they say?

  7. Zeta says

    So basically, some ahole was paid big money to steal an anonymous image from tumblr, make a change, and pass it off as his own? Really?

    Without acknowledgement, and a blog had to unearth the truth? Isn’t that the graphics equivalent of book plagiarism?

  8. Gordon says

    Everyone should boycott buying this edition of the NEW YORKER. Bert and Ernie should remain the property of Sesame Street and all the children who inhabit that realm. It has always been the intention that B and E show male bonding without adult situations involved. The NEW YORKER has crossed the bounds of good taste. Edie should have been on the cover, it is her triumph.

  9. Hue-Man says

    I smiled when I saw the cover. It’s an insider reference to the firestorm when Bert & Ernie were “outed” in a light-hearted blog post (which in turn was a put-down of the gay press obsession with “which celebrity is gay?”). There’s nothing inherently gay about the cover – they could well be just friends watching TV. Just like they were just friends sharing a bed together. Thanks to the gays, straight men are allowed to be more physical with their male friends.

    Lighten up – they’re puppets and they’re not any sexuality. Celebrate.

  10. JJ says

    Yikes! That Tyler Coates sounds super high maintenance. I’m glad I’m not around for his pseudointellectual, contrarian tantrums on a daily basis.

    One, the Bert & Erinie meme isn’t sexual, it’s romantic. There’s a difference. Tyler Coates is the one who injected sex into the imagery. He’s no better than the Bryan Fischers of the world who try to demean gays by denying our full humanity and reducing us to a heap of sexual impulses.

    Two, the meme works because, in the era when Ernie & Bert originated, gay couples presented themselves to the world in exactly the way Ernie & Bert presented themselves. We’re in a new and hard won era now when gay couples can show the world their full humanity, and no icon can capture the arc of that evolution in a single image the way Bert & Ernie can. Edie Windsor is a dear and courageous person, but the image of her and Thea cannot convey the full depth of what she has helped to achieve: that gay couples today are free to reveal a dimension of their lives that they were forced to hide in the past and to which the world was oppressively, blissfully eyes wide shut. It’s about so much more than two dicks touching.

  11. Caliban says

    I’m fine with this cover. It works on several levels.

    1. It was some religious right nut who first made news with the claim that two puppets, Bert & Ernie, were “gay propaganda,” a crypto-gay couple. It was a ridiculous claim, but fine. If you want to believe that then Bert & Ernie just won. Svck it.

    2. Probably almost every person in the US grew up watching the eternal roommates Bert & Ernie, and they’re immediately recognizable even from behind. Quick. Name another same sex “couple” you can say that about. (OK, maybe Batman & Robin)

    3. It’s an affectionate portrait of a couple at home, not some offensive stereotype.

    4. It’s about “the CHILDREN”? Really? Yes, when I worked in a book store in college I can’t remember how many times I found copies of the New Yorker hidden in the children’s section. Kids LOVE in-depth articles, droll cartoons, and erudite reviews! *rolls eyes* Kids won’t see it and if they did they don’t have the sophistication to understand it.

    5. Like Bryan Fischer even READS the New Yorker? He’s just looking for sh!t to get “offended” about because that’s the Religious Right’s schtick. They’re ALWAYS “offended.” And in case you’ve forgotten, every advertisement, movie, magazine cover, much like every gay marriage, is a personal attack on their “values.” FVCK a bunch of Bryan Fischer and the Religious Right’s delicate sensibilities!!!

  12. jamal49 says

    Sigh. Maybe it’s because I work 3rd shift and this has been a tough week work-wise and sleep-wise but re: Bryan Fischer…. I just don’t have the strength.

    Anyway, what everyone else said….

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