Question: My mom and I have an ongoing argument about Sesame Street: According to her, Bert or Ernie (she can't remember which) was hit by a bus to help educate kids about street safety, with the hidden agenda of quelling the rumor that they were gay. This sounds ridiculous to me, but I have been watching Sesame Street with my daughter for quite a few months and have yet to see either Bert or Ernie. Did they really get killed off, or have they just been forced into retirement?

Televisionary: Mourn not. It sounds like you guys are combining two all too common Bert and Ernie urban legends.

						 						The first, which started after Ernie voice Jim Henson died in 1990, was that Ernie would be executed rather than go silent (the idea that the producers might just find someone else to do the voice was, of course, out of the question). Poor Ernie was to be done away with by various means, including death by vehicle and disease. Sometimes a mutation of this tale circulated, with Bert the marked muppet. Either way, the poor souls at Children's Television Workshop had their hands full convincing stricken fans that Ernie and Bert would be just fine.

Later, casual supposition that the two might be gay led to people both pro- and antigay proclaiming that Bert and Ernie were, without a doubt, homosexual. Once again, the producers were forced to devote energy to explaining that the two were merely puppets and not involved in any sexual lifestyle — gay, straight or otherwise.

If that doesn't convince Mom, perhaps laying out her assumption plainly will demonstrate how ludicrous it is: Bert and Ernie are gay. Since we must not reveal that hidden agenda to the children who love them (and their reactionary parents) and we want to avoid upsetting anyone, the only logical solution is to violently kill them.