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The hidden evil in Thomas the Tank Engine
Charting Course ^ | 7/24/2014 | Steve Berman

Posted on 07/25/2014 6:00:04 AM PDT by lifeofgrace

thomas-oh

Ms. Tracy Van Slyke has uncovered such a dastardly attack upon our vulnerable youth, it’s shocking that nobody else before her noticed this malign cancer hiding in plain sight.  She has exposed Thomas the Tank Engine as a pernicious evil, causing so much “classism, sexism, anti-environmentalism bordering on racism” in its “hidden lessons.”

I was completely captured and intrigued by Ms. Van Slyke’s keen insight and discernment on this topic, because, frankly, my two boys are very much taken with Thomas and his friends Percy, Edward, Henry, Gordon, James, Emily, and the very scary Diesel Ten.  If there were something so harmful to their little minds and psyches in Thomas’ hidden lessons, I certainly wanted to know about it.

After reading Van Slyke’s assiduous study of all things Thomas, and the conclusions she reaches, I must show my appreciation to her.

Dear Ms. Van Slyke (May I call you Tracy?  If I may presume)… My Dear Tracy,

Thank you for exposing such an assembly of immoral thought, wrongheaded teaching, and despotic attitudes regarding gender, friendship, work, class, and hidden messages counter to our sacred values.  I am very much in your debt.

I read your statement about Thomas & Friends and how “ the constant bent of messages about friendship, work, class, gender and race sends my kid the absolute wrong message,” and it all became clear.

It’s very clear that you want to teach your child to judge everything through the cynical lens of entitlement, victimhood, and class warfare.  Surely not a day goes by when you see a world filled with social injustice, gender roles, demeaning jobs, and microaggressions.

You point out to your son how white people (there’s one!) are privileged, fat, overbearing overlords of the less fortunate classes, how he should be ashamed of his colonizing, oppressive heritage.  Just like Sir Topham Hatt, the “imperious, little white boss” as you so cleverly put it, who is always scolding one of the engines about “being really useful”, as you say “because their sole utility in life is their ability to satisfy his whims. Yeah, because I want to teach my kid to admire a controlling autocrat.”

Of course, in teaching him your worldview, you aren’t being a controlling autocrat.

By choosing what he wears, watches on television, his meals, friends, and bedtime, you aren’t being a controlling autocrat.

I’m sure you let your son decide when he gets up, what he eats, what he decides to watch on television all day, and generally you let him run his own life.  I envy you, because my sons can’t operate the DVR without help.

I’m sure that your three and a half year old is fully able to appreciate that admiring Mommy and Daddy, who may act like controlling autocrats, is completely different than the trains on Sodor listening to Sir Topham Hatt.  I’m sure you just point out that Hatt is a white colonial oppressor keeping those engines from realizing their potential, but Mommy and Daddy only tell you what to do out of love and concern.

It’s understandable that steam trains and the storybook island of Sodor, set in the early 1900’s, is so confusing to young children, and they intuitively associate Hatt’s “attire of a top hat, tuxedo and big round belly” and conclude, as you do, that it’s “just a little too obvious. Basically, he's the Monopoly dictator of their funky little island.”

Because pre-schoolers make those kinds of judgments every day.  “Look Daddy, there’s a white man in a tuxedo, how many slaves does he own?”

Tracy, your deep and meticulous research into Thomas’ world is so complete that I don’t believe I can add much to it.  Except to say that it’s presumptuous, shallow and wrong.  I am not a trained journalist, like you, and I’m not a fellow at the Washington Center for Politics and Journalism, like you were, or a fellow at The Opportunity Agenda, like you are.  In fact, I’m not a fellow anywhere.  But I do know this.

Thomas the Tank Engine was created by Wilbert Awdry, a.k.a. The Rev. W. Awdry, an Anglican minister, who passed away in 1997 after 85 years of loving two things:  trains and children.  Well, three things, and change the order:  God, children, and trains.  Awdry’s first book included this dedication to his son Christopher:

Dear Christopher,

Here is your friend Thomas, the Tank Engine. He wanted to come out of his station-yard and see the world. These stories tell you how he did it. I hope you will like them because you helped me to make them.

Your Loving Daddy

Christopher was sick, in England, in 1943.  Rev. Awdry told him stories about the steam engines he loved to watch as a child growing up.  The first book, The Three Railway Engines was published in 1945, and Awdry continued to write books in the Railway Series until 1972, when his son Christopher, all grown up, took over.

I did a little research, really nothing, looking in Wikipedia and Amazon for books about Awdry, to validate your statement about Sir Topham Hatt as an oppressive dictator ordering “the trains to do everything from hauling freight to carrying passengers to running whatever random errand he wants done, whenever he wants it done – regardless of their pre-existing schedules.”

Of course, I’m not a trained journalist.  But here’s what I found about Hatt (secret colonial oppressor name “The Fat Controller”):

In his iconic top hat and morning suit, the Fat Controller looks rather old-fashioned and formal. However, until at least the late 1950s it was customary for railway officials in Britain to be so dressed – for Sir Topham to be dressed any other way would be far more unusual.

Some have even suggested the idea that, with Awdry being a clergyman, the Fat Controller was meant to act as an omnipresent, God-like figure. This was never the intention, although in The Thomas the Tank Engine Man, Awdry states he is happy to go along with this idea if it gives the young children 'an idea of there being someone who is in control of the world.'

Oh, what a terrible thing to teach children!  Imagine, a clergyman teaching about an idea of there being someone who is in control of the world!  I’m sure, Tracy, that you raise your son as a proper atheist, and tell him there’s no tooth fairy, Santa Claus, or God.  As you drive by churches filled with worshippers on Sunday morning, on your way to tutoring for your dear genius, you point out the futility of putting one’s trust in a Creator, who is just another invention for The Man to oppress.

If I offend, and you do, in fact, attend a church, please accept my sincere apology.  But we would never want to confuse religion and God with authority and responsibility.  Preschoolers get those distinctions quite well, right?  At least yours does.  Mine eat crayons and write on the walls with dry erase markers.

Moving on to your specific indictment of the horrific episode James Painted Pink.  You wrote:

"What are you doing James? You're a big pink steamie," says Diesel, the bad-boy engine. (For the record, all the "villains" on Thomas and Friends are the dirty diesel engines. I'd like to think there was a good environmental message in there, but when the good engines pump out white smoke and the bad engines pump out black smoke – and they are all pumping out smoke – it's not hard to make the leap into the race territory.)
Everybody understands that dirty diesel engines represent a subtle racial message that….umm, well I’m lost.  Your Mensa-card-carrying boy must understand the leap from white and black smoke into racial prejudice better than I do.  Or I’m just missing the obvious “leap”.

Steam engines’ white smoke—vaporized water, or more commonly: steam.  I realize that steam pollutes the atmosphere with great quantities of dihydrogen oxide (H2O), and that’s a terrible environmental message for our kids.  And, steam engines are powered by fizzling fireboxes burning—gasp!—coal, and the coal burns and makes smoke.  Diesels run on fossil fuel.

Tracy, I’m sorry, but I’m just not sure what kind of environmental message a story about trains could teach a preschooler.  Have your really thought this out?  I’d like to think you did, but I can’t find any logic in it, just mushy thinking that makes me rub my temples.

Then there’s the scourge of sexism.  Emily is the sole female character among all those boy engines.  Come to think of it, the whole Thomas story, and trains in general, are just so boy-oriented.  It’s those filthy gender roles!

James is painted pink and he thinks pink is a silly color, and you say “it’s not OK” because you want to teach your boy that pink is perfectly okay for boys.  Fair enough.  You can teach him that.  My boys don’t like pink, and we never “cruelly laughed at them.”

In fact, I’m willing to bet a large amount of money that if I let them watch James Painted Pink twelve times in a row (during which they’d be playing with with their toys with it playing in the background), then quizzed them about the plot, neither of them would be able to tell me that James was cruelly teased for being pink.

Naturally, if you sit with your child and point out how James is being teased and how it’s bad to tease a boy for wearing pink, and if you force your boy to wear pink every day for a month while heaping praise on him, maybe you could teach him that pink is okay.  But then again, maybe you will damage him by forcing it on him, forever scarring him against pink for life.

Our kids are not science experiment labs, programmable robots, lumps of modeling clay, or instruments of social justice.  They are people.  They have a built-in, hard-wired, God-given desire to love and please Mommy and Daddy.  They have a need for attention, love, and guidance from us.  They want a relationship, not a lecture on class warfare and gender roles.

The reason why Rev. W. Audry’s stories about Thomas the Tank Engine are so enduring to children are because they are about relationships, responsibility, and love.  They were written by a loving father to his beloved son.  They were written by a God-fearing man who spent his life carefully constructing and documenting a fantasy world on Sodor where all the endings are happy, and all the steamies (and even the diesels) get along.

Thank you, Tracy, for teaching me a very important lesson, one that I’ll use with my kids.  It’s this:  the world can be either a loving, friendly place, or a place of “hidden lessons” filled with evil and injustice.  You’ve convinced me even more to keep my children away from people like yourself, whose judgmental, sanctimonious, hyper-critical elitist opinions would make even the most loving child neurotic.

That lesson, and one more:  boys like trains.  Girls, not so much.

Thankfully yours, Steve Berman

 

P.S.  The part where you talk about Martin T. Sherman quitting as the voice of Thomas, Percy and Diesel, that’s so quaint.  Apparently Sherman wanted to make “movie star” money from Mattel, who paid $680 million for Thomas.  Mattel obviously felt that there’s more voices in the world who can “do Thomas” than Mr. Sherman.

Lesson learned:  supply and demand—doing kid show voiceovers doesn’t pay well.  Sherman said “As an actor you start off, and the first season is supposed to be survival money,” he said. “[But] the second season, you're supposed to get a raise. The third season – it's supposed to be commensurate with what happens to the show.”  That only applies if you’re Jerry Seinfeld or Jim Parsons (Sheldon on Big Bang Theory), or at least if you have a role where your face is on the screen.

I don’t think my kids, or your Sheldon-intelligent son, will notice if Thomas’ voice changes ever so slightly next year.  Mostly because they tend to grow up, and outgrow the show.  I think Mattel, who has been making toys for almost 70 years, knows this little secret.  Mattel’s reaction to Mr. Sherman’s quitting:  don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out.


TOPICS: Books/Literature; Conspiracy; Society; TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: preschoolers; thomas

1 posted on 07/25/2014 6:00:04 AM PDT by lifeofgrace
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To: lifeofgrace

Is Tracy this neurotic, or did she just not have something better to write about this week - say, some REAL problem?


2 posted on 07/25/2014 6:05:15 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: lifeofgrace
Ms. Van Slyke has given Thomas the Tank millions of dollars of free publicity.

Unintended consequences are a biotch.

3 posted on 07/25/2014 6:05:20 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum ("The man who damns money obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it earned it." --Ayn Rand)
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To: lifeofgrace
Thomas the Tank Engine was created by Wilbert Awdry, a.k.a. The Rev. W. Awdry, an Anglican minister...

I'm glad I read the whole story (for a change) instead of just the headline.

I was going to say, "So, what's her beef? Is Thomas a Christian?"

Darned if that isn't the case.

4 posted on 07/25/2014 6:06:44 AM PDT by Texas Eagle (If it wasn't for double-standards, Liberals would have no standards at all -- Texas Eagle)
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To: lifeofgrace

The word “microaggression” needs to be treated like the punchline to a joke.

In fact, let’s make up some absurd jokes where the punchline IS “microaggression”.

(Then again, maybe we shouldn’t. We know that when we make up jokes about absurd liberal ideas, they tend to come true eventually.)


5 posted on 07/25/2014 6:08:25 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: Texas Eagle

Thomas must be exhibiting the scent of Christ from scripture (2 Cor 2:14-16).

That’s what Van Slyke is responding to.


6 posted on 07/25/2014 6:11:37 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: MrB; All
Is Tracy this neurotic, or did she just not have something better
to write about this week - say, some REAL problem?
Nah..just a Written RANT of a Moronic Liberal Womyn...
but, I repeat (three-peat :) myself..(Moronic Liberal Womyn)

7 posted on 07/25/2014 6:13:06 AM PDT by skinkinthegrass (The end move in politics is always to pick up a weapon...0'Bathhouse/"Rustler" Reid? d8-)
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To: skinkinthegrass; Texas Eagle

I think Texas Eagle found the root of the problem.

Thomas is exhibiting Christian morals, and that’s like a dead skunk to a God-hating leftist.


8 posted on 07/25/2014 6:15:08 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: MrB
Thanks for the reference. This will serve as my devotional for the day.

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

9 posted on 07/25/2014 6:15:59 AM PDT by Texas Eagle (If it wasn't for double-standards, Liberals would have no standards at all -- Texas Eagle)
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To: Texas Eagle
Thomas the Tank Engine was created by Wilbert Awdry, a.k.a. The Rev. W. Awdry, an Anglican minister...
I'm glad I read the whole story (for a change) instead of just the headline.

I was going to say, “So, what's her beef? Is Thomas a Christian?”

maybe Thomas will become one of those new fangled Gay Female Anglican Vicar-locomotives.....after getting his steam piston connecting rod bobbed....

10 posted on 07/25/2014 6:21:03 AM PDT by Vaquero (Don't pick a fight with an old guy. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.)
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To: lifeofgrace

Maybe its time to update Thomas for modern times and make him more PC. He certainly would need a government subsidy to keep running. But that subsidy would be used to pay to have an extra 5 or 10 employees on the train and not to repair him so we should have some rusted out old train manned by about 10 employees, who outnumber the passengers.

This Topem Hatt needs to be replaced by some useless son of a politician as a member of the board of the company that owns Thomas.


11 posted on 07/25/2014 6:23:02 AM PDT by Opinionated Blowhard ("When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.")
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To: lifeofgrace
Ms. Tracy Van Slyke has uncovered such a dastardly attack upon our vulnerable youth, it’s shocking that nobody else before her noticed this malign cancer hiding in plain sight. She has exposed Thomas the Tank Engine as a pernicious evil, causing so much “classism, sexism, anti-environmentalism bordering on racism” in its “hidden lessons.”

A "hidden lesson" that manifests itself if you play the videos backwards.

12 posted on 07/25/2014 6:35:12 AM PDT by Alex Murphy ("the defacto Leader of the FR Calvinist Protestant Brigades")
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To: lifeofgrace

:: Take away sentence,
“But we would never want to confuse religion and God with authority and responsibility.” ::


13 posted on 07/25/2014 6:35:27 AM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Alteration: The acronym explains the science.)
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To: Opinionated Blowhard

Yeah, but how would you make a train appear gay?


14 posted on 07/25/2014 6:37:11 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: MrB; Texas Eagle; All
Thomas is exhibiting Christian morals, and
that’s like a dead skunk to a God-hating leftist.
pretty much..and the truth shall, set you free!...

from the USACP (from the 1963 CR):
16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
18. Gain control of all student newspapers.
19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.
20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policy-making positions.
21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.


15 posted on 07/25/2014 6:37:54 AM PDT by skinkinthegrass (The end move in politics is always to pick up a weapon...0'Bathhouse/"Rustler" Reid? d8-)
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel

There is no legitimate authority outside that that comes from God.


16 posted on 07/25/2014 6:37:57 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: MrB

probably have to do with how the coupling system. Or just make Richard Simmons the engineer; he’s got gay to spare.


17 posted on 07/25/2014 6:40:28 AM PDT by Hegewisch Dupa
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To: lifeofgrace

I knew it! That Thomas was always a little too eager if you know what I mean.


18 posted on 07/25/2014 6:40:45 AM PDT by dangerdoc ((this space for rent))
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To: dangerdoc
Emily's got a some great wheels:


19 posted on 07/25/2014 6:43:36 AM PDT by Hegewisch Dupa
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To: MrB; lightman; Charles Henrickson

:: There is no legitimate authority outside that that comes from God. ::

Cuz, He said so by His Son (”Logos”).

I believe! Help thou my unbelief!
- Martin Luther


20 posted on 07/25/2014 6:44:35 AM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Alteration: The acronym explains the science.)
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To: MrB; All
Put a Pink Ribbon on the CattleGuard or funnel.
Hashtag: #ticklemylittlepinkgaycaboose

21 posted on 07/25/2014 6:44:53 AM PDT by skinkinthegrass (The end move in politics is always to pick up a weapon...0'Bathhouse/"Rustler" Reid? d8-)
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To: Texas Eagle

Yo, bruh!
2 Cor 2:14-16

Those cites are exceptional and I’d like to take those to this weekend’s study.


22 posted on 07/25/2014 6:49:46 AM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Alteration: The acronym explains the science.)
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To: lifeofgrace

My grandson is big on Thomas Train...including steam engines, mechanical gadgets, tools and car parts.....


23 posted on 07/25/2014 6:51:42 AM PDT by spokeshave (OMG.......Schadenfreude overload is not covered under Obamacare :-()
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To: lifeofgrace
You’ve convinced me even more to keep my children away from people like yourself, whose judgmental, sanctimonious, hyper-critical elitist opinions would make even the most loving child neurotic.

That lesson, and one more: boys like trains. Girls, not so much.

That's just an awesome kick-in-the-face. Well done!

24 posted on 07/25/2014 6:52:12 AM PDT by GOP_Party_Animal
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To: lifeofgrace

They’re two, they’re four, they’re six, they’re eight.
Sexist pigs all spewing hate.


25 posted on 07/25/2014 6:59:35 AM PDT by tnlibertarian (Beat Lamar! And, if that doesn't work, let's defeat him in the primary.)
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To: tnlibertarian
"They’re two, ----"

Classic !

26 posted on 07/25/2014 7:14:58 AM PDT by buckalfa (Long time caller --- first time listener.)
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To: lifeofgrace
The one saving moment here is when you go to the original article in the Guardian and read the hundreds of comments, which are +98% from normal folks with a sense of humor.

My favorite: "Suppose the producers were to bring on board a new female engine, who mopes around the depot hardly ever pulling a train. but who harangues the other engines about their opinions whenever she encounters them? Would that satisfy?? "

27 posted on 07/25/2014 7:30:02 AM PDT by Eric Pode of Croydon
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To: MrB

Agreed but, how do we, as Christians, interpret that?

God’s authority is ubiquitous but, when a certian portion of His creation rejects that authority, how is the XPian respond? In this day and time, this is a ^really big^ concern/discussion.

I am considering that, as a XPian, I will contnue to present Jesus to my “neighbor” but I refuse to waste my time with non-XPians. I do not feel compelled to “convince” the unconvinceable outside of the actions of the Holy Spirit.

Sort of a “dust from my sandals” situation.


28 posted on 07/25/2014 7:32:11 AM PDT by Cletus.D.Yokel (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Alteration: The acronym explains the science.)
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel

Romans 13 has always been used by tyrants to justify their tyranny.

However, in reading it, you can see that LEGITIMATE authority “punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous”.

Then it’s a matter of determining what is righteous, and that is ubiquitous throughout scripture.


29 posted on 07/25/2014 7:34:21 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: Hegewisch Dupa

It’s probably a “microaggression” that Emily is “curvier” than the “male” engines.


30 posted on 07/25/2014 7:35:28 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: Eric Pode of Croydon

Well, as long as she’s stuck in the roundhouse for a week a month... [duck]


31 posted on 07/25/2014 7:36:14 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: MrB

Well just look at your own “Microaggression”.

You write using letters that are BLACK on a WHITE background.

Clearly you make people look for the BLACK which is extremely small and insignificant compared to the WHITE.

People that can’t read English don’t even know what the BLACK on the page means, to you BLACK is that insignificant.

You obviously believe WHITE is superior to BLACK because you don’t need to be able to read English to understand the WHITE on the page.

You clearly are a racist.


32 posted on 07/25/2014 7:37:57 AM PDT by IMR 4350
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To: IMR 4350

Tracy is definitely a prime example of the mental disease of liberalism!


33 posted on 07/25/2014 8:46:11 AM PDT by golf lover (goingf)
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To: golf lover

I think all that crap come from “Critical Race Thinking” courses being taught in colleges.

It reads like a joke because they are trying to use logic to find racism in anything and everything.

Children are afraid of the dark because they are taught to be afraid of black popped up a few years ago.

Completely ridiculous unless you take it in the context it was intended. Some college professor used it as a thought exercise to get his students to find racism in anything and everything.


34 posted on 07/25/2014 9:16:57 AM PDT by IMR 4350
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To: MrB

She’s seeing things that aren’t there and speaking in gibberish. That is a sign of a more serious problem.


35 posted on 07/25/2014 9:41:28 AM PDT by darkangel82
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To: MrB

I would guess she’s just that neurotic, but that’s just a guess. An educated guess.


36 posted on 07/25/2014 9:59:19 AM PDT by lifeofgrace (Follow me on Twitter @lifeofgrace224)
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To: lifeofgrace
What a maroon.

Sir Topham Hatt (also known as The Fat Controller), whose attire of a top hat, tuxedo

Tuxedo! Tuxedo!! No gentleman wears a tuxedo during the daytime (unless he's coming home from an evening out).

Wiki (In his iconic top hat and morning suit,) gets it closer, but not quite right.

What the Fat Contoller correctly wears (cutaway coat and non-matching trousers) is morning dress, the wear for daytime business activities. A morning suit would have matching trousers and be worn for daytime social functions.

That said, Sir Topham's yellow waistcoat marks him out as a bit of a bohemian, and implies some depth to the character.

37 posted on 07/25/2014 7:20:39 PM PDT by Oztrich Boy (Wikipedia is wrong. who knew?)
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To: Oztrich Boy

Tuxedo is her words not mine...


38 posted on 07/26/2014 8:52:24 AM PDT by lifeofgrace (Follow me on Twitter @lifeofgrace224)
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To: lifeofgrace

I knew that


39 posted on 07/26/2014 9:38:36 PM PDT by Oztrich Boy (Wikipedia is wrong. who knew?)
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