Alabama Public Television has refused to air an episode of popular children’s show Arthur in which character Mr. Ratburn marries his partner Patrick, reported the BBC. The first episode of the 22nd season was set to air on PBS, but the television network swapped it out for a rerun instead.
APT’s director of programming, Mike McKenzie, explained the network’s choice to not air the episode.
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire. More importantly…parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision. We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for Arthur also watch the program.”
This isn’t the first time the network has banned an episode of the beloved series, which has been running since 1996 and depicts the life of an eight-year-old aardvark named Arthur Read and his friends in the fictional town of Elwood City.
In 2005, APT refused to air an episode in which the character Buster goes to visit a girl who has two mothers. The reason for not airing the episode was similar to the one given in regards to the gay wedding — the network feared they would lose the trust of parents.
According to AL.com, not all parents were relieved that the newest episode of the show as not aired in Alabama. Substitute teacher Misty Souder heard about the theme of the episode and eagerly recorded it for her daughter as an opportunity to teach her about social inclusion.
However, both Souder and her daughter were extremely disappointed when the episode, named “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” did not air.
“I just want her to be aware. There’s too much going on not to stand up for stuff, even if it’s Arthur. I never thought I’d be going to battle for a gay rat wedding, but here we are.”
Many Twitter users also reacted to the network’s decision to not air the episode, commenting on how the state was illegally censoring the media and taking away its freedom of speech. Several users added that they weren’t surprised to hear the news, especially following Alabama’s decision last week to pass a law to ban abortions.
Last Wednesday, it was announced that Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey, had signed a bill into law that would ban abortions in most cases, including those involving rape and incest. Those who perform abortions could face prison time. Supporters of the law hope that the appeals process will take it in front of the Supreme Court, which currently holds a conservative majority.