Citizen Sponge

Variety Editorial

Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of the Colorado Springs-based ministry, Focus on the Family, says that SpongeBob SquarePants has a secret agenda: promoting homosexuality to American kids.

The charge would be easy to laugh off if Dobson weren’t one of the nation’s most powerful, conservative Christian evangelists. Focus on the Family has a budget of more than $100 million, a magazine empire with millions of subscribers and and daily radio broadcasts on thousands of stations — some of them affiliated with CBS Radio, corporate sibling of SpongeBob’s cable network, Nickelodeon.

Even as Dobson’s opinions grow more erratic, he’s consolidating his influence over the White House and government social policies on matters ranging from media content to judicial appointees.

In a letter to associates, quoted in the New York Times, Dobson promised “a battle of enormous proportions from sea to shining sea if the President doesn’t appoint ‘strict constructionist’ judges.”

Will media companies and government agencies stand firm in the face of such threats?

The appointment of a new FCC chairman may well be the first test. As we’ve seen, under outgoing chairman Michael Powell, the agency was susceptible to outside political pressure from conservative watchdog groups like the Parents Television Council.

On Monday, the FCC rejected 36 complaints from the PTC that television stations violated decency limits by airing episodes of skeins like “Friends” and “The Simpsons.”

That’s good news for those who hope that in the future, the agency won’t be quite so beholden to the family values lobby. But you can be sure that the chairmanship of the FCC is one appointment that won’t escape the eyes of Dr. Dobson.

Rest assured Dr. Dobson, SpongeBob won’t get the job — after all, he’s only a cartoon.