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Morality mouthpiece David Caton's latest target: Muslims

Were you just pining away for David Caton, Tampa's own former-porn-addict-turned-morality-mouthpiece, to come back to tell you right from wrong again?

Yeah, me neither.

But back he is, with a campaign to pressure advertisers against the evils of the reality TV show All-American Muslim and, if he gets his way, squelch it out of existence. Because this time, Caton has managed to tap into a deep well of fear and mistrust for his 15 minutes of fame.

Usually, he and his feverish Florida Family Association (which should be called Families Our Way Or The Highway) busy themselves lobbying against shows with homosexual characters or school clubs against bullying of gay teens. For a while, the morality-policing business got so slow with people more worried about paying their bills than what smut their neighbors might be up to that Caton turned his attention to the rather unsexy task of opposing a transportation tax.

But he's back in the what's-best-for-you business with TLC's All-American Muslim, which he deems dangerous propaganda to make Muslims less monstrous, and not just another reality show that gives people a peek at lives unlike their own. Advertisers under pressure from Caton's push, most notably the Lowe's home improvement chain, caved to controversy and pulled their ads.

This made Caton news from NPR to the New York Times, with even Jon Stewart taking a late-night poke. He was David "Cato" on a Washington Post blog, though they did spell "racist" and "xenophobic" right.

And by the way, couldn't the man have done us all a favor by bashing the freakish Kardashian phenomenon instead? But I guess being rich, vain, greedy, self-absorbed and famous for absolutely nothing isn't nearly as offensive as being Muslim.

The show turns out to be about five families in Dearborn, Mich., among them a cop, a high school football coach and a newly-married couple. They're of varying levels of faith, and sometimes they talk about their lives in post-Sept. 11 America, and sometimes they live out small domestic dramas. In one scene, a young husband sits across from his pregnant wife and asks, "Are you scared?" Because plainly he is.

Caton sees all this as sneaky. He would be doing cartwheels and handstands (his words, not mine) "if the imams and clerics of American mosques were like many of the depictions of the Muslims in All-American Muslim."

But, he told me, the show is "an inadequate and incomplete image of the Islamic faith. … like The Learning Channel doing a program on pet snakes and failing to include poisonous (ones) and constrictors." Now there's a nice analogy for you, aligning the people of a faith not your own with snakes and ignoring the many Muslim families already a part of the patchwork of this country.

This week a spokeswoman for Lowe's told me it was a business decision not to run the ads once the show became "a source of controversy." And how disappointing, seeing a retail giant give in to that kind of bullying.

Because believe it or not, we can decide for ourselves what to watch on TV (or not) and where to spend our money on plywood and patio furniture (or not.)

This is America, after all, no matter what the David Catons might lead us to believe.

Morality mouthpiece David Caton's latest target: Muslims 12/20/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 1:38am]
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