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Debate is raging over calls to discontinue Charlie Brown specials because of what one dad calls "continuous teasing and bullying." (AP image)

Is Charlie Brown too mean for today's kids?

With Halloween approaching, KIRO Radio's John Curley couldn't wait to watch the classic "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" TV special with his two kids. But they didn't react with the way he expected.

While Lucy and the other kids get candy, cookies and gum, poor Charlie Brown laments "I got a rock."

"And my kids are like, 'that's mean,'" Curley said.

At the next house, Lucy asks for an extra piece of candy for her "stupid" brother, who's out in a pumpkin patch awaiting the Great Pumpkin. "It's so embarrassing to have to ask for something extra for that blockhead Linus," she complains.

Curley's kids couldn't understand why he would want to watch a show where everyone is so mean and they're not alone. Blogger Buzz Bishop, otherwise known as DadCamp, is sparking plenty of debate by arguing the classic cartoon should be shelved because of all the taunting and bullying.

"The show is riddled with the kids calling each other 'stupid, dumb, and blockheads.' There is continuous teasing and bullying. Charlie Brown is supposed to be the hero. Instead he is kicked and demeaned at every turn, even by the adults giving out candy," he writes.

Like Curley's family, Bishop found the specials inappropriate in this day and age.

"Apart from being a cartoon and having kids in costume, there's nothing of value for children in the show," Bishop says.

"Are we being overly sensitive," wondered Curley in a conversation on Seattle's Morning News.

Co-host Tom Tangney thinks maybe we are.

"I think that is missing the general thrust. Charlie Brown is the bullied kid, or the picked on kid, or the kid who has everything bad happen to him, and yet he perseveres," Tangney says.

"At least that can start the conversation. It's like why isn't anyone sticking up for him and what would you do if you saw this kind of treatment?" asks anchor Ursula Reutin.

It's not just the Halloween special. Bishop says he'll be keeping his kids away from the Christmas special as well.

"The kids are non-stop in their abuse of Charlie Brown. Even the great climax where they decorate Charlie Brown's lame tree and make it great is punctuated with a "even though you're a blockhead" dig from the kids," he writes.

Bishop argues just as our attitudes about smoking or seat belts have changed over the years, so should the way we look at classics like Charlie Brown.

Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com Reporter
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
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