Tourism Vs. Reality TV: Exploiting Pennsylvania’s Amish
They typically wear plain clothing with nothing as fancy as a button or a zipper, travel by horse-drawn buggy and shun modern conveniences like electricity. It’s that Old World charm of the Amish that draws 8 million tourists – and $1.9 billion – each year to Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, home of the nation’s largest Amish community of 31,000. What the Amish don’t do, supporters say, is tote rifles as part of a violent protection racket – as depicted in the television show “Amish Mafia” – or regularly defy their religion, like in “Breaking Amish” and “Breaking Amish: Brave New World.” And, Amish horror stories are not the norm, despite the plot lines of the upcoming “Amish Haunting.”Last week, more than a dozen state officials, including Governor Tom Corbett and Congressmen Joe Pitts and Patrick Meehan, issued a statement citing “bigoted” and “negative, inaccurate and potentially damaging portrayal of (the) Amish” and demanding an end to the shows.The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Convention and Visitors Bureau, and a regional interfaith coalition of clergy echoed those comments.
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