Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The War on Jesus's (Non) Birthday

Greetings and salutations!

I don't like that intro. How about this:

How's it hanging?!

That's no good either. What I need is a regular intro to use every time I post. Any suggestions? If so, leave me a comment.

Ah, who am I kidding, nobody leaves comments anymore. Except for somebody named "Anonymous", and I swear he/she must be schizophrenic because each posting has its own personality. Anywho...

Yesterday, I finished my last final exam for this term- which means that aside from a few days of fill in work for the BLM, I have the next four and a half weeks off! That's right, no school, no tutoring, no ASLCC Senate meetings, no homework, no alarm clocks, no annoying classmates, no crappy LCC cafeteria food, no phones, no lights, no motor cars, nada!

And what am I going to do with all my free time? Spend each day posting on this blog? Yeah, right! Nope, I'm going to sit around and drink beer and watch TV all day, baby, because that's how I roll!

Actually, what I'll probably do is clean the garage (finally!), take the car to the mechanic, go to the dentist, and lots of other terribly exciting things. I could write about that kind of stuff every day, but really, who cares? I barely do.

But I'm going to definitely skip town for a few days with Cathy this weekend provided we find a cat-sitter. We need a few days away.

So, aside from me having some time off from school and work, this time of the year is special for one other thing. It's the phenomenon that starts happening every year right around Thanksgiving, though each year it seems to start earlier and earlier. Am I talking about the Christmas shopping season? Hell no, dummy!

I'm talking about the "Outrage Over the (Supposed) War on Christmas" season!

Now, I have to admit, this year hasn't been as bad as some of the others- yet. The latest from Bill O'Reilly is that he and his audience won the war (for Christmas, not on Christmas, one would assume)...
...Wal-Mart and Macy's and all the big stores are saying, "Merry Christmas," and they've stopped ordering their employees not to say it-- most of them. Best Buy and Crate & Barrel are two that still are ordering their people not to say, "Merry Christmas," which is the worst kind of fascism you could possibly have. They have a right to do it but it's just stupid.
Of course, this ignores the fact that neither "fascist" store has a policy of not allowing their employees to say, "Merry Christmas," and that once again, Bill O'Reilly is completely wrong. But still, we have a war going on and we can't let trivial things like "facts" get in the way of our crusade to save Christmas from the evil left-wing nutbars who want destroy Christmas and our First Amendment, right?

Basically, O'Reilly seems to be "representing" two main groups here. The first group is worried that our society is taking the "Christ" out of Christmas by promoting sayings such as "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings". The second is making this a freedom of speech issue because "if I want to say 'Merry Christmas', then I'm going to say 'Merry Christmas' and nobody is going to stop me, goddamn it!"

First of all, as many people know, Christmas has been around since well before Jesus and actually started as a pagan holiday. Also, it wasn't Jesus's birthday as most scholars believe good old JC was born in either the Spring or Summer, not December 25. However, Jesus and Christmas have become pretty interwoven these days (the day is named after him, for Christ's sake for crying out loud), so the real issue here as far as I'm concerned is that while December 25 has become a Christian holiday, not every American is Christian.

A sidenote: I want to make it perfectly clear that I'm in no way trying to criticize Christianity. While I personally don't consider myself Christian, per se, I'm fascinated by the stories in the Bible and I think Jesus said many really cool things, or at least the modern-day translations of what other people said he said are pretty cool. I also have friends and family members who consider themselves Christian, and I love them and very much respect their beliefs. And I'm not just saying that because they might read this, I promise! What I'm trying to do here is point out the ridiculousness of the whole supposed "War on Christmas". So stick with me here and I might eventually get around to making my point, m'kay?

So if we can agree that Christmas has become a Christian holiday, we can also agree that Christmas has become an American holiday. Since not every American is Christian, wouldn't it make more sense to say something along the lines of "Happy Holidays" if your goal was to try to include everybody? I mean, if President Bush started his State of the Union speech with "Good evening fellow born-again, Protestant, white, male Americans," wouldn't that be a big "F-you" to everybody else who didn't fall into that group?

Of course, the other option would be to inquire which, if any, holiday each person celebrates and greet each of them accordingly. That would get old quickly, and it wouldn't even work at all when referring to a group of people:

Store Clerk: Excuse me sir, but what holiday do you celebrate in December around the time of the winter solstice?

Custormer: Well, I celebrate Christmas.

Store Clerk: Very well, then have a Merry Christmas. Also, please don't look at our store decorations on the north, east, or south walls. Only look at the west wall decorations.

Customer: Why?

Store Clerk: The north wall is for Jews who celebrate Hanukkah, the east wall is for African-Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa, and the south wall is tailored to people who celebrate Yalda, Saturnalia, Karachun, dōng zhì, Yule, Rohatsu, Ásatrúar, Decemberween, and/or Festivus. Don't look at those decorations because we don't want to offend you by acknowledging the existance of other cultures and beliefs yet we still want their business, too.

Customer: Hey, how come dōng zhì gets to be on the south wall?

Store Clerk: Just be happy your holiday didn't have to share its wall with others.

Saying "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" shouldn't be seen as anti-Christmas because it implies that Christmas is included. However, saying "Merry Christmas" leaves out Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and those other "nutty" holidays. So if I owned a store, I'd be wanting to be as welcoming to as many customers as possible.

Besides, if we were going to acknowledge all of these holidays individually, we'd have to do a modicum of research on each of them. I mean, we're Americans, we don't have time for that kind of crap!

And then there's the second group that cites the right to free speech found in the first Amendment as the main reason they should able to say "Merry Christmas" (nevermind that the amendment protects all religions, even the "weird" ones). They blame "political correctness" that supposedly prevents them from speaking freely.

My question is this: "Why does political correctness always get such a bad rap?"

I fail to see the problem with taking other people's feelings into consideration when we speak. We do it all the time. Sure, I'm legally free to walk up to an overweight person and say, "Why don't you go on a diet, fatty!" The Constitution also permits me to ask a legless, wheelchair-bound man if he wants to play kickball. I'm even technically protected by the first Amendment to ask the slow cashier at the store if her parents were siblings (though she'd most likely get fired if she appropriately told me where to go).

But I don't say these things, not because I'm worried about not being politically correct, but because I try to be respectful of others. And that's basically what being politically correct is all about: being respectful. Admittedly, sometimes we go overboard with our political correctness. That's why it has such a negative connotation. However, saying "Happy Holidays" is not going overboard. It's being respectful and (gasp) tolerant of all cultures and beliefs, religious or otherwise. Still, according to some people, we just can't have that.

Because let's be honest, most people don't want to hear a "journalist" tell them that other people have the right to celebrate whatever holiday they want, and that we should all try to respect that. No, people want to be told their belief is the only legitimate belief, that everyone else is a nutcase, and that any acknowledgement or celebration of another belief is a threat. Xenophobia = ratings, baby!

The sad thing is that as of today, close to 3,000 American soldiers are dead and over 22,000 have been injured in the Iraq War. Who knows how many tens of thousands of civilians are dead, too. And when you think of that, it kinda makes this whole War on Christmas issue a non-issue.

If this stuff gets you down, don't worry. Boxing Day will be here before you know it!

On that note, I think I'll wrap things up for the day. Although I'm undecided on my intro, I think I've got my closer down:

Don't let your meat loaf,



Blogger Doug said...

Hi Rob,

I'm a big fan of politeness. I abhor political correctness. They really aren't the same. Politeness is, as you say, showing respect for others, treating them as you'd like to be treated, and is generally the grease that keeps the ol' societal machine humming along.

Political correctness is an attempt to control expression by stating that you can't say or do anything that might possibly offend someone. Unfortunately, sometimes people deserve to be offended, or are offended far too easily. And by the way, who decides what's offensive? For example, I am offended by the gay pride flag that is hung in my building at work every June. No one seems to be concerned that I am offended, but then again, I am a 44-year old, white, Christian male, so apparently I don't count. It's the old "You're free to believe whatever you want, as long as it's what I believe" mentality from the far left.

How about if we go back to your definition of being polite? I won't go out of my way to deliberately offend you, you (the generic you, not you specifically, Rob) do the same for me, and should one of us happen to offend the other, we'll shake it off and go on down the road. I don't have the right to not be offended, nor does anyone else.

As far as the war on Christmas, I actually see it as evidence of lazy Christianity. "Awww, I don't feel like going out and telling anyone about the love of Jesus, salvation, and all that stuff, so let's just force Christianity on people and call it a day."


See, as a Christian, I have a job to do. I'm supposed to spread the good news, sometimes with words, mainly by living a good life that pleases my heavenly Father. Now if I do my job and introduce some people to Christ, they'll say Merry Christmas, just like me. Then if they introduce a few more people to Christ, blah, blah, blah, next thing you know, people are saying "Merry Christmas" because (ready for this?) they mean it, not because they have to.

Christians who want to force morality on society don't get it. They wouldn't need to force morality on society if they'd just do their job of spreading the Good News. Once people understand the love of Jesus, they'll pursue morality on their own, with or without legislation. We're supposed to change people from within, not control them from without.

So Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Seasons Greetings! Whatever, I just hope you have a little joy in your life.

6:42 PM, December 07, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

Hello Doug! Thanks for your comments. And thanks for responding to me much quicker than I responded to you!

I'm not sure that I'd agree that showing respect for others and politeness are necessarily the same, but I think I see what you mean.

Also, I don't see political correctness to be so much as "an attempt to control expression" but more as a reminder that there is much more to our society than what each of us see on a regular basis.

I'm curious as to why a gay pride flag would offend you so much. Does it hang in front of your work station and make it more difficult for you to get your work done or something? All kidding aside, I would imagine it's really what the flag represents that offends you. The problem is that a flag can represent many different things to different people whereas words have more specific meanings, though admittedly words can also be interpreted differently.

As far as your job to "spread the good news" that's cool. I'd be more than willing to listen, and I'd try to be respectful of your beliefs as long as you (also the generic you, not you specifically, Doug) would try to be respctful of mine as well as the beliefs of others.

I think the overwhelming majority of people who say "Merry Christmas" have nothing but good intentions behind it, as do the "Happy Holidays" sayers. My issue is with the O'Reillys of the world who use a bunch of hyperbole to make people who are simply trying to be respectful of others' beliefs out to be a bunch of crazed fanatics who are trying to destroy Christmas and the First Amendment.

I don't recall hearing about a huge outcry over people saying "Merry Christmas" when I was a kid, but nowadays, there's certainly a huge outcry over people saying "Happy Holidays". This doesn't make much sense to me. Why not try to include everyone?

I must give Bill O'Reilly credit, however, because if it hadn't been for him, I would've had to come up with a different topic for this posting. And I wouldn't have had the chance to enjoy this exchange!

Anyway, Merry Saturnalia and Peace on Earth!


6:16 PM, December 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're so nice Rob! I'm sure Satan will bring you lots of presents this year!

10:06 PM, December 12, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

Hello Anonymous! Glad to see you back again!

I doubt Satan will have time to get me any presents. He's too busy being the Vice President of the United States. After all, it's pretty time consuming shooting people in the face.

I appreciate the thought, though.


7:46 AM, December 13, 2006  
Anonymous Greg said...

Thanks for the Colbert link. I had never seen the entire thing. The looks on the faces of the press were hilarious.

10:29 PM, December 15, 2006  

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