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December 22, 2004


What Wolcott said!

Why sure, what Wolcott said--despite the fact that the articles are written in response to PC idiocy--like the banned red and green plates.....or the banned Christmas carols...or the undisputed fact that there are named Eid and Chanukah stamps issued by the post office, but Christmas is, as has been noted, limited to something called 'Holiday Traditional'.

AND despite the fact that his link proves the precise opposite of what he said...but hey...it's no big thing

Season's greetings to you, Von, and your family.

Jack: I'm a politically incorrect liberal. I have a certain sympathy for your revulsion at politically correctness.

But I have only a vague definition of political correctness. Could you tell me what it is? Is it like pornography: something I know when I see it. Or when you see it?

For example, the greeting "Happy Easter" really kind of whitewashes what reportedly happened during the previous three days, and who did what to whom. Don't you think?

Recently, on a major cable network, a noted Catholic wag exercised his liberty to tell the absolute truth (he claims it's absolute; I say it's spinach) that Hollywood is run by Jews who hate Christianity, and into the bargain, like anal sex.

The thing is, I've heard no reports that the other folks on the show sufficiently exercised their liberty to tell him precisely what he needed to be told. Or perhaps to apply a very rough noogie to his balding pate or to pour some very hot coffee accidentally on purpose in his sexless Irish lap (these are actions all guaranteed by my absolute reading of the Constitution). Maybe a Moe slap would have been entertaining, too. Chaos in the newsroom set would have been politically incorrect in my book (all that yelling and screaming and chair-throwing), but nevertheless satifying to my absolute, uncompromising liberty. "My" and "absolute" being synonymous.

I really, really want to be extremely politically incorrect. Just to see where it leads.

Merry Christmas!

Incidentally, I agree with you on the stamp thing.

Jack, I'm not sure if you're criticizing me or Wolcott. For the record, I do agree that pc is overdone. There should be a Christmas stamp, for instance. But, for God's sake, this "Merry Christmas as an offensive weapon in the culture wars" crap is, well, crap.

IOW, it is possible to say "Merry Christmas," support a Christmas stamp, support a tree and carols and (gasp) even the occasional navitity scene, and still think that this war over Merry Christmas is b.s.

But it's not.

In Lileks response to Wolcott's idiocy he illustrates the slow, steady abatement of the term 'Merry Christmas' in Christmas ads--and they are Christmas ads, there's no 'holiday' other than Christmas whose focal point is so riveted to the giving of gifts(and hence the opurchase of retail goods).

There is something wrong here. Does it not strike you as odd that the federal government can issue an 'Eid' stamp without a peep from the separation-of-church-and- state-brigades? Surely a rabidly fundamentalist religion like Islam, whose moderates resemble nothing so much as Christian fanatics should engender some ire from the folks at the ACLU?

But, not a peep. I find that damnedly peculiar.

And I know it's possible to see that PC has gone too far and not agree with usng Merry Christmas to combat it...but why not?

Isn't the best way to fight the encroaching anti-Christmas spirit simply to celebrate the holiday as openly and loudly as possible? With all the lights, songs and trimmings of the Christmases one idealises from childhood?

Surely a rabidly fundamentalist religion like Islam, whose moderates resemble nothing so much as Christian fanatics should engender some ire from the folks at the ACLU?

One more gross generalization like that and you're banned Jack. I'm not kidding and I'm not debating it. You'll treat Islam with respect on this site or you won't be welcome.

steady abatement of the term 'Merry Christmas' in Christmas ads

Yes. Explained by the fact that businesses like to make money. Right or wrong, the market created an impression that a secular Christmas season was best for business.

There is not unseen hand, no secret cabal of ACLU lawyers, no government watchman from OSHA demanding that businesses avoid wishing you a Merry Christmas. There is only the demand of capitalism. By beef with the purportedly world-weary Lileks is that he stretches for some secret history when there is only the world.

Translate it into my personal business life: I'd rather a hundred clients think I'm too pc if it meant that one client wasn't offended by an inopportune Xmas wish. Too pc will typically not cost me their business; causing religious offense might.

That said, I do keep track -- to the extent possible -- my client's religious preferences, and act (and wish) accordingly. But that's good business. Wishing my Jewish clients a Merry Christmas ain't.

I am sorry if I offended. I was trying to make the point that, in Islam, the fundamentalist is more common than it is in Christianity, and that the term 'moderate muslim' does not equate to 'moderate christian'. Perhaps my language was a bit harsh.

I was using this to illustrate the point that groups that attack exhibitions of even moderate Christianity--like going after the symbolic crosses on the LA seal seem bizarrely quiet on issues pertaining to other, more fundamentalistt practices. I find this quite perplexing. Surely the call to prayer is as intrusive to non-muslims as the nativity is to non-christians? Surely there is offense taken across the board?

Apparently not.

I hold no particular animus to Islam, it is merely the only other of the 'big three' religions whose adherents(some of them, anyway) have this tendency to want to foist their practices on the public. The other, of course, being Christianity.

Again, I did not intend to offend...

I don't have a lot of experience being in the minority (being a straight, male, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant will have that effect), but, in my experience, the majority always "suffers more" in an open and honest exchange. That's not "fair" in a celestial sense, but it is largely a good thing, 'cause the majority can usually take it better.

Surely the call to prayer is as intrusive to non-muslims as the nativity is to non-christians?

Sure -- from the perspective that I don't much like loud broadcasts five times a day. (This'll be a very interesting 1st Amendment Case, when it comes.)

Jack, it may be more fun to think of the ACLU approach as a hostile assault on all religious expression, but it's not correct. It's about the Constitution.

Does the USPS issuing an Eid stamp bear any indicia at all of an attempt, no matter how feeble, at establishing religion? No. Especially not in the American context. Does the USPS issuing stamps that celebrate Xtian holidays? If you can't see the difference, you're not trying.

(I'll hasten to add that I personally do not think that the USPS is or ought to be legally barred from calling them Xmas stamps. In addition, I suspect that the USPS uses the nomenclature they do for the same business reasons that Macy's or whoever is the object of all the whining does . . .)

Again, I did not intend to offend...

Thanks for the clarification. "Rabidly fundamentalist" was the phrase I objected to.

In my experience (raised fundamentalist [Pentecostal] and engaged to a Muslim), Muslim moderates make Christian fundamentalists look like, well radicals, to me.

Surely the call to prayer is as intrusive to non-muslims as the nativity is to non-christians? Surely there is offense taken across the board?

I watch the Muslim cab drivers who frequent the gas station across the way from my apartment lay out rugs and pray behind the building from time to time. There's no minaret calling them, so it's not the same experience as a nonMuslim would have who lives near a mosque. Honestly, I can't say whether I'd find it intrusive or not. Probably on some level I would (I can't stand noise). Then again, I love the local chiming of the bells at St. Anthony's. Perhaps the minaret's calling would become as nonthreatening/nonintrusive to me as that is. That's what I'd hope anyway.

"in my experience, the majority always "suffers more" in an open and honest exchange."

Von, at the risk of wading into a load of oatmeal splattered on the wall (if that is the right term), can you explain what you mean by this?

And happy holidays!

Doh --

I mean "suffers more" in the sense of being an acceptable target for ridicule and/or attack. It's similar to the rule that one's ethnicity helps to determine what you may acceptably say about ethnicity and its role in society.

Von: I mean "suffers more" in the sense of being an acceptable target for ridicule and/or attack.

No, just funnier. And it's not a simple question of who's in the majority: it's a question of who's got most power.

Ridiculing up the power structure is always funnier than ridiculing down. Workers making jokes at the manager's expense are funny; a manager making jokes at the expense of his employers is not funny. The Commander-in-Chief of the US army doing a mock search of his office to find those WMD that he lied about as an excuse to invade Iraq and kill a hundred thousand people isn't funny: an Iraqi making a joke of not finding WMD would be.

The church up the street from me rings its bells from time to time. I don't know hwat the purpose is but it's likely to be a Christian-type religious purpose seeing as how its a church. I like the sound.
A church making church sounds is just part of the daily life of a community. It isn't a government action. if the government required bell ringing, then there would be a Constitutional issue. This is just a long way of saying I can't see anything wrong with minerets calling people to prayer.
I don't see any lack of Merry Christmas out here in true blue Washington state. The Salvation Army is ringing at the grocery, people have decorations up everywhere, the city has a lovely lighted tree. If someone is trying to ban Christmas they are failing miserably outhere.
I love Christmas. I'm an atheist, living with a Buddhist but we celebrate to the fullest. It is as much a secular holiday as a religious one and people can play up or down whichever aspects they prefer.

Notice how Jack conveniently fails to mention (I suspect he did not bother to check) that the "Holiday Traditional" stamp says "CHRISTMAS" in caps across the top, and the sample available on the USPS website shows a picture of Mary and Baby Jesus, complete with haloes. Yeah, that's secular, all right. Downright profane.

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