Democratic Underground

Tom Ridge Announces Television Debut of "Timmy the Terror-Fighting Turkey"

Color-coded wattles will "keep American kids vigilant"

August 20, 2004
Satire by David Albrecht

WASHINGTON (AP) - Tom Ridge, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, today announced a new program designed to get even the youngest Americans involved in the non-stop fight against terrorism.

Timmy the Terror-Fighting Turkey will debut on national television networks on Labor Day weekend, "bringing his message of eternal vigilance and family fun to kids across America," according to Secretary Ridge.

Timmy, a charming and chubby rendering of an American wild turkey, will make his debut as a public service announcement beginning on the morning of Saturday September 4th, when cartoons and similarly family-oriented programs fill the airwaves.

Although designed and drawn as a generally soft-edged and jolly character, Timmy will still possess one ungainly attribute of an actual turkey - his outsized dangling wattles.

As he struts his way onto the small screen, he'll rotate to face his viewers, wave and puff out his fanlike tail. This is where the wattles take over - they'll quickly change color to correspond with the ongoing color-coded Terror Alert status.

A text box will appear below his feet for hearing-impaired children, while Timmy gobbles out status reports.

"Code Green - everything's cool!" for example, or "Code Red - Hey kids, check with Mom & Dad. If they're already dead, hide under the bed!"

"This isn't just a talking terror turkey, but a program that we think will be a valuable tool in letting America's children know what they need to do in times of crisis," said Secretary Ridge.

"Along with ongoing terror status updates, we're also working on a series of brief cartoon messages that tell kids how they can actively fight back against those who hate our freedoms."

Three different versions of the Terror Alert PSA are ready for broadcast. However, Homeland Security and its affiliated animagicians aren't leaving it at that. Timmy will also host a continuing series of cartoons dedicated to teaching children how to keep America safe.

In his first cartoon adventure, Timmy teaches children how to deal with suspicious-looking taxi owners who may be from the Middle East.

"When Omar Stops, Call the Cops!" is the title of the first episode, as Timmy leads a plucky and determined group of grade-school kids to chase down clues and then call in reinforcements to arrest a Lebanese cab driver. The payoff? A car trunk filled with plastic explosives and hashish.

"It's a rollicking adventure in which a diverse group of American children - Latino, African-American, Asian and white - fight long odds to beat terror", noted Betsy O'Neill, a digital animator with Pixar and assistant producer for the series.

"It really drives home the lesson that courage and curiosity are traits that help everyone. Through the differing backgrounds of Timmy's human friends, we also wanted to send a clear message that in America, diversity is good - unless, of course, we're in a situation where diversity is bad."

In the second episode, "Sunday Secrets," Timmy and his human sidekicks help uncover an enduring mystery. Puzzled that some people in their neighborhood don't go to church, Timmy enlists four of his closest human friends - Connie, Javier, Dakota and Sachiko - to investigate.

The group is surprised to discover a pagan eco-terror tree-spiking conspiracy funded by Colombian drug lords and the Audubon Society and led by their own fifth-grade science teacher.

"It's a wonderful message of teamwork and bravery that Timmy and his friends deliver - in an enjoyable way that kids can relate to," noted Secretary of Education Rod Paige, who was also on hand for the press conference.

"These kids also learn that any behavior that is unusual and out of the mainstream should be investigated and reported to the authorities, whether or not there's a good reason to do so."

Paige also praised the episode's theme of investigating and rounding up "non-Christian deviants" as the kind of positive message American children need to see and hear.

Imam Reza Bakhtiar of the Philadelphia-area Muslim Citizens' Council has denounced the PSAs and cartoons as "offensive and discriminatory," and similar complaints have been heard from Muslim communities both inside and outside of the United States.

O'Neill, however, isn't fazed by these comments.

"We're planning on having Timmy end his first episode by puffing out his tail feathers to form an American flag", she noted, "and there's certainly nothing anti-Islamic about that. Timmy's a tough, talking terror-fighting turkey who talks turkey, and we're behind him 100%."

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