<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d7401543\x26blogName\x3dat+ease\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttps://atease.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://atease.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d7906930409557999190', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

War on Christmas Debate

The anonymous blogger that I posted about yesterday (who I've just realized is named sean) has posted a lengthy reply to my comment on his site. This time I noticed that the comments are being moderated (not sure if they were before but I don't think so). So I'm going to post the discussion here for posterity just in case there is some level of dishonesty over there (no insinuation...yet). UPDATE: My comment was approved so maybe I just missed the required comment moderation previously.

sean had this to say:

Let’s see. First off, I’ve heard this phrase “war on Christmas” a lot this year. I guess other folks are picking up on this meme. But I’ve been crusading for Christmas for a long time but I didn’t know it was a war. I don’t think its an organized one. Back in the 90’s the city of Pittsburgh (I live near there) started this idiotic idea of promoting shopping downtown in December by instituting “Sparkle Season”. They had this little blue star that sparkled as a mascot and banners up on the streetlights proclaiming the joys of “Sparkle Season”. Nowhere did they mention Christmas nor any other holiday. It was a total load of politically correct BS and double-speak. They want people to come and spend their money but won’t acknowledge the reason that people are celebrating in the first place. And let’s be honest. It isn’t because of Hannukah that all that money is being spent. That’s a fine thing to celebrate, but its not the economic driver of the season. Neither is Ramadan. The number of people celebrating it is very small in this country, as a percentage of the population. And besides, from what I understand, Ramadan is not joyous celebration, its a time of fasting and penance. It is Christmas that drives people to the stores to buy gifts for others. And the city wouldn’t let the name of the holiday/holy day appear anywhere. City employees were instructed to wish people a “Happy Sparkle Season”. Pittsburgh become a laughing-stock until they abandaned it out of embarrasment.

A similar situation exists with large chain stores like Wal-Mart and Target. They forbid their employees to greet people with a “Merry Christmas” or even respond that way to people who first say it to them. Its silly. When asked about the policy, some pinhead at Wal-Mart actually wrote a response that claimed that Christmas was a mish-mash of pagan celebrations from all over the world while not mentioning Christianity as having a connection to “Christ’s Mass” at all. Even Wal-Mart executives couldn’t swallow that one and apologized for it. It was never clear to me what that wacko response had to do with forbidding a greeting of “Merry Christmas” anyway.

Last year, the mayor of Denver decreed that greetings of “Merry Christmas” were banned from public buildings. The Christmas Parade would now be known as the “Parade of Lights” and a local church group that had always marched and sang carols in the parade was now forbidden to take part. After this was publicized, the firestorm of criticism caused the rocket scientist mayor to rescind the order. So yes, maybe its silly to have to talk about this stuff over and over again, but if we didn’t, Denver’s mentally challenged mayor would have had his way.

There was also a story or two last year about some local governments forbidding some family from putting a creche up on their own property because they lived near the entrance to town. Apparently, the busybodies in local government thought that the proximity of the creche on private property to the town’s “Welcome to…” sign instigated a Constitutional crisis.

So you see, I find that its usually governments, large corporations, and other institutions, which are overwhelmingly run by the whiny, pompous, and bureaucratic politically correct crowd that are the offenders here. And they almost always go too far and abuse their authority in these matters. As I mentioned in my posting, I don’t usually hear about Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or any other religious group objecting to mentions of Christmas. In fact, I often hear about Jewish groups sticking up for the greetings and displays of Christmas decorations. Jewish people, especially, know about how a climate of religious intolerance starts out with fairly small, minor issues and grows. They don’t want it to happen to them or to us Christians.

As to atheists… well, I didn’t mention them at all. “Secular fundamentalists”, a term coined by (as far as I know) Jerry Bowyer, a local Pittsburgh talk show host, refers not to atheists generally, but to these whiny politically correct folk who think that the mere mention of something Christian is an offense. They go so far as to believe that even acknowledging the existence of a holiday that has become very secular in nature with icons like Santa Claus, reindeer, snowmen, and trees and characterized by rampant consumerism will still hint of Christianity and be an offense. They never seem to take the same strident tone when mentions of other religions come up. Apparently, either Christianity is the only religion that is offensive just by mentioning it or Christians being offended by mentions of other religions don’t count. Besides, the whole idea of mentioning or referring to a particular religion or particular holiday/holy day being an “offense” is ridiculous. Now, I suppose that some atheists may be secular fundamentalists, but I never implied that all atheists are secular fundamentalists. I never mentioned atheists. If you want an example of a secular fundamentalist then read this post. I think the woman I write about in that post qualifies. She also seems to be an atheist, according to her comments. But that’s not a causal link. Secular fundamentalists tend to be either atheists, marxists, new-age, or neo-pagan types. But not all atheists, new-age, or neo-pagan types are secular fundamentalists. Most marxists are, however… by definition.

So everyone should feel free to let rip with “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Hanukkah”, “Mediocre Monday” or whatever. If someone takes offense… well, that is *their* problem.

So there are my examples. But I never characterized it as a “war on Christmas”. You used that term not me. I’m simply recognizing that there have been more and more governmental bodies, corporations and other institutions trying to dictate what people can and can’t acknowledge to each other about Christmas over the past few years. The term “war on Christmas” implies that its some organized conspiracy. I don’t think that’s happening at all. I just think its rampant political correctness by the ultra-left ensconced in the various bureaucracies, and the spineless reaction of large corporations who want to make everything gray and bland to avoid any hint of controversy. They know the biggest whiners are the politically correct crowd, so they cave. And I don’t think even the politically correct wackos are organized about it. Its just they way they are. Religion is an affront to them, so they react against it. People having fun over a holiday that is primarily, in spite of the commercialism, a religious holy day is an affront to them. So they react predictably. And I, being political incorrectness incarnate, like to stand up, get in their face, and say, “no” to them. The whole tone of my post, in case it got lost in the typing, was one big grin on my face. I’m not interested in going after these folks hammer and tongs. I’m interested in bellowing “Merry Christmas” with a big grin, a big laugh, and a big slap on the back in their presence just to make them seethe. :) These are the type of folk who just can’t stand it when someone goes about their “merry” way, right in front of them, having a good time, and ignoring their edicts about the proper, politically correct way to behave.

And lastly, I have no idea what Bill O’Reilly says on the matter. I can’t stand the man. He’s pompous and full of himself. I don’t watch the show, its just way too annoying. I only watch two shows on FNC: the evening news show anchored by Brit Hume and the show “Fox News Watch” which is a media analysis show about how the media has reported on the news of the week. Both of those shows feature balanced panels of liberals, moderates, and conservatives and they all get a chance to talk without shouting.

To which I replied thusly:

I suspect that the “sparkle season” (which I haven’t looked up but will) is the result of a marketing scheme. A way to brand pittsburg as something different and special. I’d bet that “sparkle season” started not in the brain of an ultra-left, whiny, bureaucrat but as the careful studied result of dozens brainstorming sessions and focus groups. An enduring legacy of political correctness? Probably not? A desire to not acknowledge the “reason for the season” as it were? I doubt it. It was branding pure and simple. I just read that it lasted for 8 years and was simply retired without much fanfare. It sounds like the advertising scheme simply got old.

About Wal-Mart and target, it seems to me that they would like to be all inclusive because they want everyone to shop there. Obviously you disagree that it’s the right thing to do but I guarantee you that giving instructions on how to greet people is by no means limited to the holiday season. Anyhow, I’m sure that any greeting they give (in fact probably the vast majority of interactions that the employees have with the customers at all) are run through marketing agencies, psychologist groups, and focus groups until they find the one greeting or other interaction that elicits the most sales from its potential customers. In short, if using Merry Christmas were more advantageous in terms of sales, they’d be using it. In fact, Wal-Mart has likely found this to be the case now given the publicity from the likes of Fox News.

Individuals in governments have always made bad decisions. That is exactly why our Government was designed to have checks and balances. But a few silly decisions does not a movement make.

Now all that said, I think obviously we see some common ground when it comes to corporations. They market the holiday season in the same way that they market anything. The idea is to get you thinking about spending money on whatever product they are moving and nothing else. Don’t kid yourself for one second that now that Wal-Mart is using Merry Christmas (or so I’ve heard) that their grinch hearts have grown three sizes. They’re simply pandering. They’d hang upside down crosses and paint pentagrams on the ground if their focus groups indicated that would bring more people into the stores. I’m sure there are plenty of executives who are religious and maybe even deeply so. But it isn’t religion that is motivating them to sell their warez, and it isn’t religion or the fear of offending some massive mysterious group of people that is motivating them to greet you in a certain way. It’s money, pure and simple. Lots and lots and lots of money. Is it right? Is it wrong? I’ve got no idea. I’m quite disgusted by the whole corporate machine thing anyhow (Naomi Klein ruined me on all of that). What I do know is that as long as you’re in their store buying things and not interfering with other people buying things, they couldn’t care less about you or anything you have to say including Merry Christmas.

I would say you’re definitely right. The politically correct crowd does a great deal of whining. In this case, it is the crowd whining for Christmas political correctness that is doing all the whining.

He's got some good points, but I think he's far off base for some things. The Christmas season is the time of year that a vast majority of retailers go into the black. That's why they call the day after Thanksgiving (the busiest shopping day of the year) "Black Friday." Up until the last month and 6 days of the year, most retailers are sitting in negative numbers and they depend on a robust Christmas shopping season to bring them into the positive side. The vast majority of us experience Christmas as we experience just about everything else, through the TV and at the Mall. We are not in Church for a month straight reveling in the joy of Christ's birth (if that's what we believe). We are at home watching commercials that make us laugh or make us cry but mostly make us want to go out and buy what they're selling. So my argument is that this season is only about Christ as much as it has to be to get people to the mall or to Wal-Mart or whatever. But the bottom line is not religion, it is commerce. This country's economy (in fact most economies around the world) would collapse without the shopping season that is Christmas. Sure, on Christmas eve or Christmas day there are plenty who celebrate in their own way be it religious or not. But let's face it, it is not a personal religious reflection that makes kids run down the stairs in the morning. It is gifts under the tree.

So to everyone who reads this I wish you a very Merry Giftmas!

Activist Judge Cancels Christmas...

The Onion, as usual, is on top of the story.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The supposed "War on Christmas"

Those on the right swear it exists, those on the left mock it and them mercilessly, yes it's time to give season's greetings to the happy holiday tradition of fighting the War on Christmas. Today I hope to strap on some body armor and my kevlar and embed myself in the trenches, to ride along in the HMMWV's, to hunker down in the foxhole journalist-style (or at least curious observer-style) and find out what all the hubbub is about.

But where do I start? I could go right to the top, the supreme commander of the noble and righteous Corps de Christo, Bill O'Reilly. But really, I'd be as likely to get a response from O'Reilly as I would from Gen. Abizaid. Really to be honest O'Reilly creeps me out. From his horribly embarassing Loofa episode *shiver* to the new threats to "bring horror" to those who wishes someone happy holidays. I tried a google search but apparently this war on christmas (or at least the war on the war on christmas) was started sometime around the end of Thanksgiving (you know, the war on the war on Christmas starts earlier and earlier these days, pretty soon we'll be bringing horror on people by Halloween!). Any google searches were painfully out of date so striking up a conversation with the front line grunts in the war would be about as worthwhile as trying to access the supreme commander himself.

Enter Technorati. With the miracle of technorati I can a list of blogs that are discussing a given topic in order of freshness. Sweet! Finally I get to try to discuss this with someone who is right there on the front lines, someone who has the topic right there in the front of his or her brain. So who did technorati lead me to? A little blog (judging by the small number of comments - not that mine is huge or anything) called Small But Disorganized. If you read the link you'll find that the anonymous blogger is really into the christmas thing. The site is red and green, the title image is an image of a wal-mart-esque lighted natvity scene with the words "Merry Christmas!" prominently displayed over it. The link in particular is about a fantasy of going out and bringing all the "secular fundamentalists" to their knees by running up to each and every one of them in a department store (where we all congregate obviously) and wishing a very stern "Merry Christmas." I've found my front line warrior, time to engage.

My first line of questioning? Just who in the world are these people who are offended by the term Merry Christmas? Can you point me to them? If not, where did you learn about them? Here's what I wrote...

Ain't technorati grand? You're the first person on this side of the issue that I came across and I just thought I'd strike up a conversation about this whole war on christmas thing.

Just out of curiosity, who are these people that are offended by people wishing them a Merry Christmas? I'm an atheist, most of my friends are atheists, lots are Christian, some are Jewish, and a couple are Hindu [EDIT: I've met a couple of people who are Hindu, I can't really say that I know if they're offended or use the term Merry Christmas but the rest stands...]. None of us are at all upset by the phrase "merry christmas". In fact, I can't think of a single one of us who hasn't wished someone a merry christmas.

Now I know that Bill O'Reilly has insisted that there is some big secret legion of anti-Christmas / anti-Christian warriors out there that are driven by the one single solitary goal of ridding the US of Christianity and free will in general. But O'Reilly is insane. First of all, you should never trust anyone that tells you that any group of atheists could get together and organize anything let alone a massive country-wide conspiracy involving a massive media machine. Second, despite what everyone says, not only do we atheists not believe in God, we don't care who does.

But maybe I just haven't gotten my invitation. In which case, I'm pissed.

So anyhow, do you have some kind of link to an example of a "secular fundamentalist" who has taken offense at the term Merry Christmas? I would definitely like to hop on over to their blog (assuming they're a blogger, but really who isn't these days?) and ask them a similar series of questions. If you've got no example then I must ask where did you get the idea that there is a war on christmas at all?

I'll post this comment over at my blog (see, everyone's got a blog these days) and I've subscribed to these comments. I really am curious about all of this. Hopefully you can enlighten me a bit.

Here's hoping that we get a dialog going.
WWW atease.blogspot.com

Watch More TV - Explodingdog.com