By Peter J. Smith

  WARSAW, May 30, 2007 ( – Tinky Winky the lavender alien puppet who minces about his way on the children’s BBC television programme “Teletubbies” with a lady’s handbag, has now minced his way into Poland as the center of a media-driven controversy designed to make the government’s campaign to protect children from homosexual propaganda look ridiculous.

  The controversy began after media sources misrepresented remarks made by Ewa Sowinska, Poland’s Ombudsman for Children’s Rights in a May 28 interview from WPROST, a weekly opinion journal, regarding the “Teletubbies,” specifically Tinky Winky.

  The interviewer asked: “In the opinion of some psychologists, one of the characters in this cartoon is promoting homosexuality. A discussion on this has taken place in the American media … where the cartoon was accused of promoting homosexuality through the fact that a male character Tinky Winky is purple and carries a handbag. In your opinion, is homosexuality promoted also in a hidden manner? Do you see a need for an intervention in these kinds of matters?”

  Sowinska responded, “I will ask the psychologists from my office to watch the Teletubbies and assess if it can be shown on public TV.” The ombudsman added that she had heard of the controversy, but continued that after seeing an episode of the show herself, “I have to admit that these characters seemed very nice to me.”

  However most media organisations only reported Sowinska’s following comments where a “problem” could be raised over Tinky Winky: “I noticed that he has a purse, but I didn’t realise he’s a boy. At first I thought that must be a bother for him. Later I learned that there could be some hidden homosexual undertones.”

  Without its original context, the media portrayed Sowinska as a “homophobic” reactionary bent on ferreting out homosexual influences real and imagined just because she saw a purple boy character with a red handbag. The media mentioned the government’s campaign against the homosexual agenda had been condemned by the European Union as “homophobic.”

  In truth, Sowinska’s Office for Children’s Rights had launched no official probe into the “Teletubbies.” Prior to the interviewer’s decided concern, it was not even an issue.

  Sowinska then issued a press release Tuesday stressing that for her personally, Tinky Winky never had any homosexual connotations, and emphasised that it was “not me but the media who tackled the problem of homosexuality in ‘Teletubbies.’” Sowinska announced that after reading the opinions of sexologist Andrzej Komorowski, she believed any inquiry to be unnecessary and would not consult her psychologists.

  Sowinska said government regulations required her to look into specific information about potential harm to the rights of a child. Among these are the mock complaints she has received now over the Smurfs and Winnie-the-Pooh, where the male characters sometimes dance or sleep together.

“It’s symptomatic that in reporting on this case, many journalists focused on ridiculing the idea of protection of children against homosexual propaganda in general,” MP Krzysztof Bosak told

“Whatever the real intentions behind the character of Tinky Winky are, ‘Teletubbies’ don’t seem dangerous to people, and the accusations against the cartoon seem absurd to parents. But the kind of coverage that this case has received can convince parents that all accusations against gay themes in the culture are exaggerated.”

“Teletubbies” was produced on public television from 1997 – 2001 and featured four alien “technological babies” (as creator Anne Wood described them). They all lived together without mother or father under the benevolent guidance of the “Voice Trumpets”, periscopes that would emerge from the ground to give the “Tubbies” proper directions.

  Back in 1999, the late Jerry Falwell himself became mired in media ridicule after he suggested that Tinky Winky was promoting acceptance of homosexuality among the “Tubbies’” target audience of infants and toddlers.

  However, like Ewa Sowinska, Falwell was humiliated for repeating only the common perception among homosexuals, who observed the effeminate “Tubby” incorporated known homosexual symbols  – lavender colour and upside-down triangle – along with his penchant for the lady’s red handbag or “magic bag.” The Advocate, a leading US homosexual news source, observed in 1998 that “PBS is clearly terrified that the same fundamentalists who boycott Disney are going to flip once they get wind of the latest lavender love puppet.”

  The uproar over Sowinska however has been picked up by homosexual advocates in the EU already incensed that Poland resists its homosexualist agenda.

“Ewa Sowinska’s homophobia must meet with a decided reaction from European Children’s Rights Ombudsmen,” Reidar Hjermann, the Norwegian Ombudsman for Children’s Rights, announced Wednesday, saying that they will demand “an explanation from the Polish Ombudsman.”

  Polish Ombudsman Janusz Kochanowski has dismissed the question of homosexuality in “Teletubbies” as not worth attention. Nevertheless, EU Ombudsman Nicoforos Diamandouros ominously mentioned that while the case is not in his competence, the EU boasts a number of regulations about discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“There is a very strong arsenal of legal instruments at the level of the European Union that in fact would be applicable at the level in this kind of an occurrence,” he said.

  Government officials have made overtures to smooth media tensions. Education Minister Roman Giertych gave a Tinky Winky toy to the liberal host of a live TV talk show to show he has nothing against the lavender puppet. The host gave him a red handbag in return.

  Poles however have reacted differently to the “scandal” than the frantic media. Local press reports indicate the sale of Tinky Winky dolls is drastically down, and one toy store in Lublin, which normally sells 20 Tinky Winkys per week, has not sold one since the media “outed” the Teletubby.


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