Yesterday I covered the Daily Telegraph rehashing a story that the Daily Mail had invented – and I had covered – last week. Basically, both the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph were claiming that Thomas the Tank Engine had abandoned Christmas in order to be ‘politically correct’. The current writers behind Thomas the Tank Engine, HIT Entertainment, were quoted by each newspaper and clearly informed them both that their claims were false, but to no avail. For the record, they have now felt the need to publish this statement on their website:
Media Statement (UK) – Representation of Christmas in Thomas & Friends
Any reports that HIT Entertainment, rights owner of ‘Thomas & Friends’, has been “writing Christmas out of a new series” are completely inaccurate. Nothing could be further from the truth. The episode recently referenced in some press articles is six years old and was contained in a four episode DVD that was not sold as either a “Christmas” or a “Holiday” themed release.
Thomas has a great deal of Christmas themed content and does not shy away from celebrating the occasion, as last year’s DVD ‘Thomas & Friends: Christmas Express’ makes clear. Currently we are working on another DVD ‘Merry Christmas, Thomas’.
We take the legacy of The Rev. Awdry’s work very seriously in the creation of all of our new content and work closely with his family to best manage Thomas for future generations of children. Christmas was, and continues to be, celebrated on the island of Sodor, the home of ‘Thomas & Friends’.
However, the truth is fairly irrelevant to both our broadsheet and tabloid media – indeed the Daily Telegraph article was worse than the original Daily Mail rubbish – and the Daily Telegraph article was picked up by the English Defence League and used as evidence that foreigners (read: Muslims) were forcing more British culture to be abandoned. I know that neither the Daily Mail nor the Daily Telegraph implied any religious motivations behind the untrue allegations they made about the series, but they must realise that any invented stories about the ‘banning’ or eliminating of Christmas will be used by the far-right to bolster their anti-foreigner (read: Muslim) agenda.
Perhaps what is more worrying is that at several points during the discussion thread people point out that the story isn’t true – indeed, some EDL members heave a sigh of relief that they don’t have to boycott Thomas the Tank Engine – but look at how many new comments simply ignore this and just fume with hatred and rage anyway.
This is why journalists should not be able to publish such blatant lies. There are elements of our society that are fearful, vulnerable and simply not intelligent enough to know when they are being lied to. Such people rely on dishonest journalism to hide their own inadequacy with a culture of hatred and blame aimed at ‘others’. Such a culture leads inevitably to the creation of organisations like the EDL.
Just read this thread and once again it becomes essential the we pursue with every energy genuine press regulation: