LANCASTER, PA. TPB — Lancaster, Pa. -- If this were a movie, they'd call it "The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Meet the Pennsylvania Dutch." Or, in this case, the Dutchess.
And the diabolical villain would not be such usual turtle foes as the evil Shredder or the devious Krang, but that crusader from the land of funnel cake, that paladin of piety, the indomitable Joan Hake Robie.
Where the turtles' old nemeses have failed, where the denizens of the dark have been defeated, this grandmother from Amish country hopes to prevail.
It hardly seems a fair fight. Single-handedly, without a sword or even radioactive mutagen, she is taking on all four turtles -- Raphael, Donatello, Michaelangelo and Leonardo -- at once.
Mrs. Robie, who describes herself as a "conservative, moral activist," has launched her attack on the wildly popular tortoises with a book that condemns them as violent, occult-inspired influences that are warping the youth of America.
In "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Exposed!" this Cassandra from south-central Pennsylvania raises the alarm against these half-shelled threats to the minds of children and the wallets of their parents. She worries that the turtles glorify violence, perpetuate sexism, teach Eastern religions, foment rampant materialism and generally rot kids' brains.
"I believe that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are teaching social, moral and spiritual values that are not in the best interest of a child," Mrs. Robie writes. "I wonder what was going through the minds of the creators of these giant-sized turtles when they brought things like radioactive goo, mutating chemicals, living in a sewer, a rat as a master or god-like figure to the turtles, and ninja violence into the picture.
"It's like a cult -- it has swept the country and the world," Mrs. Robie said recently, sitting in a restaurant across the street from her Lancaster publishing company, repeating the line she has taken on talk shows. "There is some force behind that that is very spiritual. And if the power is not coming from God, it is coming from the Other Side."
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are not the first icons of popular culture to feel the wrath of Mrs. Robie's righteous indignation.
She doesn't like Barbie dolls, either -- too much emphasis on the beauty and the breast. Or Smurfs -- cute, but deceptively occult. Or Care Bears -- unacceptably Zen-like, with those round Buddha bellies of happiness. Or Halloween -- a celebration of Satanism.