The Thursday Blog: The War On… Oh, Never Mind Edition

I thought I would write a blog on a Christmas theme for today, given that it’s just around the corner. I picked the War On Christmas after reading an amusing article about how Xmas is in fact an ancient Greek abbreviation for Christmas, (X= “Chi,” which was frequently used as a short form for “Christ”) and how the author thought that people who got all bent about “Xmas taking the Christ out of Christmas” were really funny. Chuckling in agreement, I set out to do a little research of my own.

I thought to tackle the blog from the point of view of a hard-bitten atheist who nevertheless couldn’t give a fart in a hurricane how anyone else chose to celebrate their holiday. It seemed a good enough place to start. From what I could gather the fear seemed primarily that atheists were attempting to wring the religious significance from Sweet Baby Jesus’ special day. See, while I don’t believe in any gods, (except maybe Joss Whedon) I love Christmas. There is nothing about Christmas better for me than watching loved ones open gifts you found for them, wrapped, and presented to them under a lit and twinkling tree, with the sounds of Christmas music and the smell of pine. It evokes feelings of family, comfort, love, and nostalgia. (And don’t forget the dinners!) Now obviously Jesus doesn’t enter into my celebration… there’s a statuette of Tinkerbell atop my tree. But I celebrate nonetheless, godlessly, with my family and friends.

More to the point, I refuse to care how the religious choose to observe their holiday. (See the aforementioned fart.) So if I — representing as I assumed I did, the majority of not only atheists but non-religious observers of the holiday — posed no threat to Christmas in Christian households, then with whom were the Christmas Warriors conducting their war? Faithfully, I girded my loins (hee-hee!) and took to the intrawebs in search of the perfidious enemies of my favorite holiday.

As I’m sure you’re all already aware, I discovered nothing. Pretend to be surprised.

Well, I found the American Family Association, who keeps a “Naughty or Nice” list showing which companies are “for” or “against” Christmas. In case you were wondering, being against Christmas really just means being inclusive. For instance, if you say you are running a “Christmas Sale” at your store, then you are For Christmas. If, on the other hand you say you are running a “Holiday Sale,” (that includes Christmas as well as everyone else’s end of the year celebrations) then you are Against Christmas and the AFA recommends that all the god-fearing faithful boycott your place of employ and hopefully drive you out of business so that you and your family die cold and penniless in the street. I don’t know if the AFA is really that mean, or if they simply haven’t thought this thing out.

I also found FOX News, which apparently runs a bunch of spots every Christmas season about how some parade in Bumblefuck Ohio changed its name from the Bumblefuck Christmas Parade to the Bumblefuck Holiday Parade. Beware! For the Liberals have come down the chimney and stolen your stockings and treeses, your Christmas cookies and cheeses, all of your presents and last but not least… those dirty Liberals stole the Who-pudding and roast Beast. Or so you are supposed to believe. As far as I could tell, nobody other than FOX and the AFA, who were purportedly defending it, gave a crap how anyone chose to observe the holidays. It was hard to visualize this being much of a “war”.

At the end, I thought I might try to attack Christmas myself, just so the defenders would feel justified. You know, throw ’em a little bone. But ultimately, I simply didn’t care enough. I’m cooking a goose on Sunday and I’ve got to prepare the dry brine tonight, and I just don’t have the energy. Christmas may come on the 25th, but my family will be here on the 18th.

I know you Super-Christians like to fight and have wars and stuff over the things that are really important to you, but from this atheist right here? I wish you a Merry… and peaceful… Christmas.

26 Responses to The Thursday Blog: The War On… Oh, Never Mind Edition

  1. I realize this has made the rounds in previous years, but it still applies:

    Please accept with no obligation, implicit or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practised within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice, with total respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, and their choice not to practise religious or secular traditions at all.

    Additionally,

    A fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2012, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our society great, without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, sexual orientation and choice of smart phone and computer platform of the wishee.

    By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others and no responsibility for any unintended emotional stress these greetings may bring to those not caught up in the holiday spirit.

    This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is either revocable or limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

    This greeting is void where prohibited by law.

    No trees were harmed in the making of this greeting, although a few electrons were inconvenienced.

  2. You portray the tolerance that so many others seem to have lost.

    I find it both sad and amusing that people will expect YOU to be tolerant of some other group of people and yet they tell YOU that YOU cannot do what YOU want because it somehow offends others. The case of not being able to say “Merry Christmas” at a school because it will upset non-Christians. Um, OK, so where is the tolerance there? Are these non-Christians really getting emotionally or psychologically scarred because of those words?

    The US has become way too “PC” to the point that they are really not PC at all any more. I will at times wish others that I know of a certain faith well on their faith’s special day(s). It is showing that person respect, something too many people have lost around here.

    I must say that over the past decade I have been exposed to many “new” religions, with some being very old. All of these people that I know from different religious backgrounds respect each other and are not offended by words/ celebrations/ activities carried out by the others.

    Thank you for your tolerance.

    • I know many non-Christians, both religious and not. I don’t know anyone who is offended at being wished Merry Christmas. I have heard many Christians, on the other hand, tell me that they feel persecuted by not being allowed to celebrate Christmas the way they want, although none of them have actually experienced any abridgment of their observances in any relatable way.

      My conclusion, anecdotally, is therefore that there is, and in fact never actually has been, any “war” on Christmas. I believe that it has been an invention of certain segments of the media intended to boost ratings by making people feel aggrieved. I also feel like the public is generally catching wise to this, and is slowly beginning to ignore it. I do find it irritating that these people are in effect saying, “You can wish people well by my holiday, but you are not allowed to wish them well by everyone’s holiday even though it includes mine too.”

      That’s just some bullshit right there.

  3. Has a lifetime of familiarity with the Star Wars story taught you nothing? Portraying yourself as an underdog unfairly attacked by others is best form of PR a would-be oppressor can achieve in America. This goes double if the truth is that you seek to oppress others, because otherwise folks an easily say, “Stop oppressing me!” and make you look like the jackass that you are: In such a case it is usually advantageous to adopt a victim image and preempt attempts at other people telling the truth about what you’re doing by poisoning the language.

      • Fair enough.
        I suppose you have to give all this background on what’s going on with the attacking Christmas bullshit in order both to explain it to the uninitiated and clear the octopus ink squirted on the issue by the Christian supremacist types. It’s a lot like Intelligent Design that way in terms of being a manipulative trick for advancing specific religious agendas. If you don’t explain thoroughly what’s going on any brief mention can easily cause more people to be confused by the propaganda. It’s just that this could all be written much more concisely with this instead (if we could safely sacrifice the background):
        “I looked up what this attacking Christmas thing is all about. Certain Christian groups are trying to boycott companies that use terms other than Christmas or mention other holidays during that time of year as a way of discouraging tolerance and respect for non-Christian traditions. This makes them a bunch of jerks and I’d like to call them on being a bunch of dishonest jackasses for claiming that Christians are the ones being oppressed in all this.”
        I guess the problem with that is it’s too blunt and they might find out where your website is and try to DDOS you. This is also why you didn’t link them since that would also make these jerks find you. Manipulative jerks like that go berserk whenever someone catches up and starts explaining the con. It would also be irresponsible to increase their search engine rank by linking some of the smoking gun level evidence too, I guess.

        Why do I have to keep being reminded why I try not to talk to any stupid jerks like this? I know already, they think they’re smarter than me when the truth is they haven’t listened to anything they didn’t want to hear ever without being forced to.

        • Well… I do try to avoid providing free SEO to asswipes, but the truth is that you should consider this blog an editorial, in that I try to report on actual events, but freely include my interpretation and opinions, both for clarification and for entertainment. As a general practice, I do not annotate here, assuming that all of my readers are capable of making the same Google searches that I have made, and because I am not being paid for that kind of thoroughness.

          Thank you for the rewrite, but conciseness is not always what I am after. Most of the time I am simply trying to write something that I would find entertaining, and hope that you would too.

          • Oh, for your goals I’m sure the version you posted is better and has the additional benefit that you wrote it yourself.
            I’m just stuck on first principles of communication: The more words you say something in than necessary the more chances there are you trip over the vagueness and double-meanings of the English language. As long as there is no need for duplicity if you can say it in five words that people don’t need to look up in a dictionary then that is the best way to say it.
            About the balance of entertaining and insightful: When the topic is political that can be incredibly funny and incredibly aggravating at the same time for different people… or even the same person. A URL is easy to post and helps keep partisans from making totally bullshit assertions that ignore the record.
            About the entertainment value: Usually you post things I find worth discussing but I have to say in this case it’s not because I think this shit is funny. I think it’s sad and dangerous like a rabid dog starving to death on your front step.

  4. I’m willing to attack Christmas. Not because I care about Christmas specifically, I’m perfectly willing to attack every other major holiday as well. Not because I care about them either. But because I work retail. And I have to put up yet another damn special display for yet another damn holiday, to try and appease yet another group of damn holiday shoppers.

    Turkey? No. We’re out. We had turkey back on the 4th of July, but apparently it wasn’t good enough then. Now, we’re out. Fuck off.
    No, I’m not helping anyone find nutmeg. It’s been in the same damn place for the last 11 months. If it wasn’t important then, it’s not important now.

    • Careful friend, you sound like you aren’t happy to be employed by your corporate owners. Didn’t you know happiness is mandatory and failure to comply is punishable by death?

      ….Every day things get closer and closer to Greg Costikyan’s Paranoia and I can’t help but wonder if I’m better off trying to be infra-red or ultra-violet.

    • Well you certainly have a good enough reason!

      And there was NO safe zone of clearance in Paranoia. Although if you were on the ends, at least you only had to cover attacks coming from one side.

    • Considering it’s Glenn Beck that invented this I’m not worried. Think about it, who has made anything like this without it being an attempt at humour and/or political axe-grinding? If you can point to a single example of that I will congratulate you and give you one negotiable reward for finding something I didn’t think existed.

    • Again though… I just don’t care. It’s not going to stop me, or you, or anyone else from celebrating the holidays any way they want. I see no problem with not pretending like Christmas is the only one in some stupid store display. (Sorry, EcchiKitty!)

  5. So, um, how ’bout that SOPA stuff?

    You have no idea how nervous I am about it. I’m a Canadian so I can’t even yell at an elected official or something. I’ve read a few things about what the bill entails – basically, if it gets passed, the internet will be shut down instantly by trolls. They’ve been stabbing the amendments that make it MAKE SENSE in the face with a butter knife (seriously – anecdotal evidence?!) and as of right now any sort of report of using copyrighted material forces the DNS server to asplode.

    1) Servers gonna crash. SO HARD. ALL THE TIME. I don’t know the technical specifications of the DNS-tomfoolery, but actual IT people have nothing but doom, gloom, and “wat” to say about it.
    2) Trolls gonna take down every site. They don’t like a site? Poof, it’s gone.

    I can only hope that once the trolls kill twitter, facebook, google, youtube, hotmail, yahoo, gmail, msn, and every other big time “old people” site, plus every USA gov’t site (within minutes, naturally), the senators will turn around and repeal that law immediately and we’ll get off with a few days of internet blackout. Worst case scenario, all those companies have good SOPA provisions in place and they all just ignore the stuff because of ten bajillion registered IP addresses or whatever and it’s the tiny sites that aren’t media giants that get sniped off with merciless, terrifying precision.

    I read the comment threads of some people watching a live feed of the meeting. It was really, really horrifying. There’s a sizable portion mentioning how the senators aren’t even trying to hide how they’ve been paid off.

    • I had a moment of genius… this act basically requires a legal agreement to post content. Every game, program, forum… etc… requires an EULA agreement. Just put language stating it is OK to post content that (insert legal language that meet requirement) in the EULA.

      We general people now have legal rights to post content. Tada!

      Makes me wonder because anything you post on YouTube or Facebook becomes ownership to Google or FB, but you have the rights to the content as long as it is in public, but they technically assume ownership… ga… ok now I am confused.

      • First problem: EULA is another problem instead of a solution, they squirt around thick clouds of legalese which usually are quite toxic to privacy and consumer rights. Plopping a fat coil of them on the internet at large as a way of trying to protect us from other stupid legalese is not guaranteed to work and can backfire in many more ways besides the guaranteed one of stinking just as much as a certain type of coil of heterogeneous brown matter most people have some familiarity with.
        Second problem: Legalese is not supposed to be able to protect anybody from anything, this is just intended to be a bazooka aimed at whoever the MPAA and the RIAA decided they didn’t like today. It has no safety pin or target-lock safety release by design. The fact that it gets to be aimed at other people too is how they’re trying to sell the neofascist jerk squads like the NSA, DoD, DHS, CIA, FBI and such on supporting it and it’s really hard for jerks like that to say no to more power.

    • Don’t worry, every single thing that has passed in the US under this RIAA and MPAA campaign of nonsense is something the Americans are trying to arm-twist our government to pass here. They haven’t managed because every time they went to try over the last decade it was a minority government and the opposition parties all took the free PR of agreeing with the giant crowds of sign-wavers that Michael Geist and such have mobilized (may the noodles caress him lovingly for his actions that promote truth and justice).
      Now… now we have a fucking majority government run by the group most prone to putting on the kneepads and bib whenever an American business interest hints it might like a blowjob. That means we have to fight much harder to keep them from suing grannies for copyright violations up here now.

      So don’t worry, it won’t be long before we have much worse things to worry about than the Americans attempting to buttfuck DNS and international copyright law at the same time. Keep watch of Geist’s blog to find out when we’ll have to start doing more sign-waving in a futile attempt to slow it down.

      • I really wish I knew how Harper got re-elected. I mean, I know Canadians shouldn’t be held up to ridiculous international standards, but… Contempt of parliament? Really? Why would you vote for this man?*

        I just feel like my country’s now sitting next to a grenade with the pin pulled out, and all we’re able to do is say “please be a dud” over and over again.

        *Rhetorical.

        • I blame television-spot political campaign ads, but really none of the crew standing up to be voted for in the last election was someone I would trust with my wallet, let alone my country. The big story was the Liberal flop as Iggy fell down under a combination of chewing his own foot and relentless attacks by everybody else trying to steal votes from the Liberal share. Both the Conservatives and the NDP were sticking it to him non-stop and he wasn’t enough of a shining star to survive that amount of mudslinging (if he was a shining star at all).
          The other options were the Quebec separatist party that made itself unpopular by talking about separatism as an active goal, the NDP whom it just doesn’t pay to talk to or with since Layton and his crew were never very smart or reasonable people, and the guy who wants to flood the world with unsustainable industrial pollution and who bends over backwards for large American business interests and religious jackasses in exchange for the kind of campaign funds he had that paid for more television ads than everybody else combined.
          So, as I’ve said before: Everybody in Canadian politics defeats themselves, it was just that everybody else defeated themselves more than the Conservatives did last time. But if you want the one-name answer it’s Michael Ignatieff.

          P.S. You’re right, I didn’t mention the Green party. I doubt they’ll be worth mentioning in the next election either at the rate they’re going.

          • Oh man, I have this great joke about Canadian politics, but you spoiled the punch line.

            And the delivery.

            And the body.

            And every other part of it.

            I guess “green party” is a pretty compact joke, hey?

  6. I am currently living with my parents due to being disabled (actually I am not officially disabled yet I am just to f###ed up to function on my own, or for more than 2-3 hours straight. They are both Catholics and I am Wiccan. Right now it is Advent, so every night we have prayers before dinner. While it is not my faith, I join in on the responses as a matter of respect for their faith. I believe that this is what any person should (or sit quietly), but most people these days would probably ask their parents not to have the prayers with dinner as they are not p.c. I think p.c. is mostly a load of crap.