It turns out that when suburban mothers buy American Girl dolls that look and dress exactly like their own little girls, they may unwittingly be purchasing tiny, lesbian partners for their children.
At least, that is the fear of the wacko, right-wing watchdogs who keep track of exotic threats to our children that most of us are too naive - or not nearly psychologically twisted enough - to recognize.
Up until now, we thought the growing success of the Wisconsin-based American Girl doll company was one of those wholesome, positive, all-American stories.
Who could possibly find fault with a roaringly successful commercial venture that encourages young girls to dress in the same designer outfits as their look-alike dolls?
The company founded 20 years ago in Middleton by Pleasant Rowland was sold to Mattel Inc. in 1998 for $700 million. The company has upscale doll stores in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles with expensive clothing boutiques, hair salons and high fashion events for dolls and children alike.
Obviously, any little girl who buys deeply into the American Girl mystique - emphasis on "buy" - is well on her way to dressing for success in life. At the very least, she has a shot at becoming a particularly well-tailored trophy wife.
The commercialization of childhood is a serious social issue that could be the subject of thoughtful public debate. Or we could just listen to the ignorant blatherings of right-wing extremists.
Guess which has gotten American Girl into hot water? You got it. It's the complaints of the American Family Association and the Pro-Life Action League.
The American Family Association, based in Tupelo, Miss., the birthplace of Elvis Presley, has a long history of seeing threats to our children that most people are far too intelligent to notice.
The American Family Association was among the few organizations to perceive that preschool children were being brainwashed into pursuing a life of homosexuality by a sexually ambiguous Teletubby named Tinky Winky.
The organization once protested an episode of "Rocky and Bullwinkle" in which Bullwinkle the Moose married Cinderella. You might think the American Family Association would rejoice at such a high-profile celebrity endorsement of traditional marriage.
But those vigilant protectors of conservative morality recognized the Bullwinkle-Cinderella liaison for what it was - a subtle endorsement of inter-species relations promoting sex with animals.
So what could be so objectionable about American Girl dolls to attract protests from the American Family Association and, even more curiously, the Pro-Life Action League? The last we knew no embryos were destroyed producing American Girl dolls, which are not actually alive, just perky.
It turns out purchasing American Girl dolls helps promote concepts these groups find offensive. You know, objectionable concepts such as living healthy lives and being tolerant toward others.
The two groups have launched a crusade against American Girl for contributing philanthropically to Girls Inc., formerly the Girls Clubs of America, which for 140 years has organized programs encouraging young girls to feel good about themselves and strive for achievement.
This is where the charges about lesbianism come in. It seems that in educating adolescent girls about sexuality, Girls Inc. fails to teach young women to hate themselves or anyone else if they happen to be gay.
Almost as bad, in attempting to prevent teenage pregnancy, Girls Inc. reveals to girls that abstinence is not the only method of birth control. Since abstinence has been known to fail, it also acknowledges the existence of contraception and abortion.
No advocacy is involved. It's a simple matter of providing an honest education in the basics of good health for adolescent girls.
American Girl dolls aren't proselytizing innocent young girls into lesbianism or teenage whoredom. That's just standard laughable exaggeration from wild-eyed goofballs on the right.
But when the president of the United States lends legitimacy to the wild-eyed right on issues such as teaching religious beliefs as science in our schools, pretty soon other institutions in our society start taking seriously other ridiculous right-wing ideas.
St. Luke Catholic School in Brookfield recently canceled an American Girl fashion show that was expected to raise from $10,000 to $30,000 for the school.
Apparently, these regional fashion shows, which send personal invitations to more than 20,000 American Girl doll owners over a wide area, are killer fundraisers.
Brookfield, in Waukesha County, could well be the state's most seething hotbed of both American Girl dolls and the religious right. Those well-dressed, fresh-faced dolls never had a chance.
Father Frank Malloy, the pastor of St. Luke school, said in canceling the American Girl event: "The cost is too high. Our integrity isn't for sale."
Anyone gullible enough to believe that an American Girl doll is a threat to public morality doesn't need to be bought. He's already been Bullwinkled.
Copyright ©2005, Capital Newspapers