Monday, July 6, 2015

A real drag in Haddonfield, NJ

Day care dis-invites a cross-dressing actor

A real drag in Haddonfield, NJ

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The tale of Martha Graham Cracker, Haddonfield Child Care and Dr. Seuss brings to mind “The Sneetches.”

In that classic Seuss story, silly creatures disagree about who among them is more fabulous:  The sneetches with stars on their bellies, or those without.

The stars weren't so big; they were really quite small.
You would think such a thing wouldn't matter at all.

Far less artful is the wishy-washy, mishy-mashy statement by the Haddonfield, NJ private day care and after-school program. Following a tsunami of online tut-tuttery about its having invited, then mysteriously dis-invited, Ms. Cracker, a professional drag performer, to read Seuss to kids in celebration of Read Across America Day, HCC disseminated this:

Haddonfield Child Care is committed to providing an environment that recognizes and encourages diversity in our staff and activities.  Along with that commitment comes a responsibility to be sensitive to the developmental levels, maturity and ages of the children in our programs, which range from 5 to 11 years old. We strive to provide a variety of activities that respect the individual needs and parenting styles of all of the families we serve.

Seems that even in semi-hip Haddonfield, some folks equate a man in a costume reading, say, "Green Eggs and Ham” with a sex education show-and-tell by the RuPaul Drag Race ladies.

Meanwhile, Graham, aka the immensely talented Philadelphia theater artist Dito van Riegersberg,  has become  a liberal cause célèbre. His Facebook page is nearly as awash in high-mindedness as HCC; fans bemoan parochial Haddonfield's purported paucity of progressive values -- in contrast to the abundance of their own enlightened views, etc.

But all will be swell in Martha-ville: Instead of stuffy Haddonfield, the performer will read to the kiddies Sunday at Philadelphia's Christ Church.

Let's note that as a private organization (like Christ Church), HCC is free to invite or disinvite whomever it wishes -- even someone like NFL star/right wing darling Tim Tebow, who reads Seuss on YouTube.  But such an invitation might well draw fire from secular parents fearful that Tebow’s evangelical Christianity could pervert  his narration of, say, “The Sneetches."

That book ends with the warring creatures finally realizing their common sneetchiness. And while Theodor Seuss Geisel, whose work never lacked a point of view, is no longer with us, he might write a similar ending for the Martha mess:    

The Dr. Seuss tussle/is one foolish kerfuffle/so all of the birds should their feathers, un-ruffle.

Inquirer Columnist
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Blinq is a news commentary blog featuring contributions from Inquirer Metro columnists Kevin Riordan and Daniel Rubin.

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