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A behind-the-scenes look at Mr. Rogers’ temper

July 16, 2010 | By Abraham | 17 comments

From xkcd

On a related note, if you haven’t seen the video of Mr. Rogers winning over a skeptical congress, it’s worth watching:


  1. Andrew Kember says:

    Ah! Thanks for the context – I saw the XKCD cartoon, and mentally filed it under “Huh?” then moved on. Mr. Rogers speaking style is rather interesting – I think he said “um” only once in those six minutes. He’s so very deliberate and gentle.

  2. Andrew (other one) says:

    If all Christians strove for the same kind of gentility and deference without sacrificing values and beliefs, as Mr. Rogers did, we would cause a much different (read: better) perception among the rest of the world, methinks.

  3. Jonathan Baird says:

    A political comment: Who says that the government should be allocating tax payer dollars to any kind of indoctrination of children? I don’t trust Mr. Rogers (or any other nice guy) to mold my children’s self image, or educate them. If Mr. Rogers can go in there and get $20 million, why can’t someone with less noble goals go in and get $20 million or $200 million? Oh wait, they already have, their name is Planned Parenthood. I know it’s not fair to compare Mr. Rogers with PP, and that’s not what I’m doing, I’m only saying that the government shouldn’t be deciding who gets this type of funding for services offered to the public. I don’t mean to generate heat and no light here, but I think it’s worth asking whether or not the government ought to even hear a Mr. Rogers pitch a $20 million dollar idea like this before congress.

    1. Joshua says:

      Well Jonathan, it seems the government decided to fund the Public Broadcasting System. Every show indoctrinates with some type of message. Mr. Rogers had a better message than most and PBS was rewarded for his witness and his ministry on their stations. The similarity with PP is that children do not have to be subjected to either PBS or PP. The difference is that PP promotes and performs murders and Mr. Rogers was opposed to murder, as he said in his song at the end of the clip – valuing the decision to stop being mad. It may also be helpful to recognize that the government is not an ATM but made of people (all US citizens), people who are responsible to God for their motivations, decisions, and actions. Though anyone can ask for money we are all responsible for who does and doesn’t get it. I’d like to hear if you had any arguments in for your view or suggestions about who should “be deciding who gets this type of funding for services offered to the public.” Or is your view that such money shouldn’t exist to be distributed?

      1. Jonathan Baird says:

        Sure, I have a great suggestion: If people like Mr. Rogers enough let them give money from their own pockets to fund his show. It is not the government’s job to allocate resources like this. Again, I wasn’t comparing Mr. Rogers to PP. I was just pointing out that we need to be concerned about what organizations that government has the say in who does (and therefore doesn’t) get funds.
        I’ll give you a quick practical example that I have first hand knowledge of: I work with a crisis pregnancy center, we have a Sexual Integrity Program that we teach in schools. We recently came across an offer by the government to give us funding ($400,000) the only kicker was that we had to use their prescribed teaching material and that we would be watched very closely in how we used the funds. Upon further inspection it became clear that there were no curricula that we could use in good faith because none of them would allow us to teach an “abstinence only” lesson to kids. Who do you think got the funding? Groups who would teach kids how to have “safe sex.” So no, I don’t trust politicians to allocate funds in line with my values. I wish I could speak of government as merely a tool we use to collaborate, but it is so much more than that now. It is a huge bureaucracy with an incredible amount of power.

        1. Graham says:

          Wait… they do that already. Or do you not watch PBS? Ever seen a pledge drive?

          There’s a lot of grant money available for various purposes. Some has strings, some has, well, less strings. Rather than lamenting that the money is available to causes that you don’t agree with, and implying that it should go away altogether, why not make sure that the causes you believe in also get their share, and make the best use of it for the kingdom?

          of course the individual donor model is great, but it’s not scalable. it doesn’t work efficiently enough to go beyond local scale.

          Fred Rogers had an amazing way of kicking some arse and taking some names. What an awesome and inspiring man.

          1. Jonathan Baird says:

            Yes, they raise money themselves, but they should have to raise it all like non-profits who do not get government dollars have to do. I don’t lament the existence of the money, just that it is in the hands of politicians to dole out. Private organizations and foundations can allocate it much more efficiently.
            Just because I make the point that the government should have the ability to allocate these fund doesn’t mean that I can’t fight for organizations that I like to get the money. I just wish I didn’t have to play the game and the government would keep it’s nose out of places it doesn’t belong. Mr. Rogers should have been before a private organization pitching for $20 mil not before the US Congress.

    2. Becky L says:

      I think you missed the point of why Abraham showed the video. And even still, Mr. Rogers did far better things for children than most. This was the way he knew how and he did a fantastic job.

      1. Jonathan Baird says:

        I understand that Abraham posted it to give a good example of someone speaking with gentleness, humility and persuasion, which is why I prefaced my comment with “A political comment:” Certainly Mr. Rogers was a kind and gentle man, that is not in question.

    3. EAJ says:

      Jonathan you make some valid points, and they should not be dismissed lightly, I think you do miss the opportunity PBS give folks that no other organization will, not even the collected body of Christ.

      Our government interfered in the lives of men the minute it was formed and a declaration was signed. Yes I am for limited government. I will always speak for that. However PBS, which achieves what it does with both private and government support has created and produced some of the most valuable and worthy entertainment in broadcasting history. I personally am grateful for it however it came to me. And I think for the most part this speaks to some wisest spending the government has ever done.

      Granted I have not applauded all the programming. It seems for everyone that I enjoy there is one I did not like because of the ideologies it presented. Still if the government can plant trees allow them to grow allow them to grow some art as well. I say as long as the good guys can be among that group they should get some of that money and run with it as far and as fast as they can for as long as they can, for it may be the only chance their voice will be heard. To be frank I love my Christian brothers and sisters but they are not good at giving to the arts and often the artist has to find other resource – especially filmmakers. If if were not for folks in government offices that know good art when they see it millions of kids most likely would have never seen Mr. Rogers or millions of girls would have never read a Jane Austen novel until they saw a Pride and Predjudice mini series on television. I think our job is not to stop a program like PBS but to make sure that those run the program and sit in those government offices are folks who share a Judeo-Christian worldview or are at the very least not working against it.

  4. charity says:

    I loved this. And I love Mr. Rogers. They took him off PBS in Raleigh, and it was a sad day. He was the best neighbor.

  5. Elizabeth Esther says:

    I am sitting here with tears running down my cheeks. Thank you, AP. I never had a chance to watch Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood while I was growing up. When I first came out of my childhood church, I watched his show. And I loved it.

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