Unnecessary political correctness replaces tolerance with intolerance

The great cultural disease of the twenty-first century has claimed another victim. Political correctness, after ushering in the “Common Era” and seen off witches’ black attire, has now invaded the world of Thomas the Tank Engine. Hit Entertainment, the company producing Thomas the Tank Engine TV shows and books, has announced that Christmas is to be officially axed from the show in a bid to remain politically correct. Christmas trees are set to become “holiday trees”, Christmas holidays converted to “winter holidays” and the Fat Controller is under imminent threat. It seems one of the Western world’s most longstanding traditions is no longer acceptable.

This is a move that makes perfect sense for Hit Entertainment. Wanting to make the DVD more marketable all year round, replacing the Christmas tree with the season-less winter tree is an obvious first step.

But what makes this move all the worse is the indecisive, nudge nudge wink wink approach it perpetuates. It would be one thing to scrap the episode in question (which is, unfortunately for Hit Entertainment, all about Christmas) out of concern at the offense it may cause. But it is a weak and feeble excuse of a solution to not so subtly make reference to the very things they believe to be so insensitive. There is not a single child who will view this episode and fail to make the connection between the “winter tree” and the rather similar tall green leafy object in their living room that they know to have some connection to a deep rooted cultural and religious event. Such a move can only dilute any festive spirit the uncensored version may once have had (and perplex a few non-politically correct six-year-olds).

It begs the question, who is this really for? Are there people out there genuinely offended by Santa Claus, Christmas Lights, and a festival based on goodwill and giving? It is one thing to take offence when your own culture is under attack. It is quite another to feel insulted at the very presence of someone else’s.

Likewise, tolerance does not equate to denial. Respecting someone else’s background does not require the minimisation of one’s own culture to the point where one is almost embarrassed it existed in the first place. Such a view of the world is artificial beyond belief. Portraying to children their cultural background as something to be shunned and watered down reduces the sparkle of the Christmas holidays to a dim and quickly exhausted flicker.

Indeed there is something Orwellian about such a world view. The world’s cultural intrigue and traditions reduced to a pervasive blandness for fear of upsetting anyone in the smallest way possible. However it seems that in a bid to become a tolerant and accepting society we have become exactly the opposite.


  1. Someday I’ll write two lists, one of all the things in the world which are worth caring about, and one of all the things that don’t matter.

    What they call a particular tree on a show aimed at 5yr olds won’t make the first list.

    There are lots of serious problems you could have written about, instead you chose to pretend that this matters, it doesn’t.

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  2. The irony here of course is that Thomas the Tank Engine was written by a Church of England Vicar, the Reverend W. Awdry.

    ps. I’m not sure how anyone could be offended by a reference to Christmas in a children’s TV show, a show set in Great Britain and therefore reflecting the culture of GB. It is part of our history and our culture, and so it seems stupid to deny its exists.

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  3. @A Gordon – I was making a list of extremely uncultured and totally unaware of the world around them. Congratulations, you’ve been added to that list.

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  4. The Thomas the Tank Engine example is not political correctness at all. It is simply marketing. By appealing across cultures the Tank Engine brand can be successfully sold all over the world. In America the first Harry Potter book was renamed from the “Philosopher’s stone” to the “Sorcerer’s Stone”. Are you going to blame that on political correctness too?
    I would have expected this article to be more at home in The Telegraph than Nouse.

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  5. Polly Toynbee might be wrong about many things, but she’s dead on the mark when she claims that political correctness is a conservative straw man. There is no organised conspiracy to oppress Christian English values, just misinterpretations, mistakes and outright falsifications. ‘Steve’ already pointed out why this story is nonsense, so I’ll just add that ‘Common Era’ has sod all to do with political correctness, because this particular dead horse has been flogged far too often.

    Firstly, it’s ridiculous to apply the concept of a Christian calendar when talking about non-Western history. Secondly, the starting date of the calendar is utterly arbitrary – it’s now generally accepted that Christ was born in 4BCE. If we can all agree that the calendar system has no real connection with the dates of Christ, then we may as well rationalise it to something more neutral. Thirdly, the Gregorian calendar was only invented in the 6th century, and even then it underwent several changes up to the 20th century. Calendar reform is far from unprecedented.

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  6. I would tend to agree with “Steve” above. I doubt very much that there is anyone that actually believes a Thomas the Tank Engine episode about Christmas is “offensive” as you describe. Changing references about Christmas simply makes the episode relevant to a much larger audience, both within the UK and globally.

    Would definitely recommend this Stewart Lee clip about why Political Correctness is a good thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGAOCVwLrXo

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  7. Political correctness has run a mock world wide. People need to take a stand or the holidays will become just another day that we happen to get off work.

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  8. http://www.hitentertainment.com/corporate/newsdetail.aspx?nid=83

    the usual lies by people peddling the “PC” myth.

    the sad thing is, the anti-pc people perpetuate this, not the mythical “pc crowd”

    sad people buy into this laughable boo hooing about things like thomas the tank engine, it’s beyond pathetic.

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