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The Christmas Armistice
2006.12.13 (Wed) 23:42
We really weren't going to bother this year, but Rockstar spoke up, and we're not ones to shrink from popular demand (especially when the demand comes from a demographic of one). Rockstar asked:
Where's my annual "War on Xmas" rant?
Where, indeed? Usually, our spider sense starts tingling sometime around Halloween as the Ridiculous Right begins pull-starting their two-cycle propaganda engines in anticipation of a season of pretend persecution. This year...not so much. Sure, we've seen the regular red herrings of the season, and we've heard a little bit of whining from the usual thickheaded suspects, but even Bill O'Reilly — he of the thickest head of all — seems to be phoning it in this year, given his gratuitous use of the phrase "gearing up for the holidays" on his own show (followed by a moment of horrible recognition and a botched scramble to recover). We're happy to say that, compared to the last two years, this year is damn near blissfully quiet. So the short answer: the War on Christmas is apparently in the midst of a tenuous cease fire. Kind of.
No, we don't mean that the religious nutjobs have stopped complaining about the phrase "Happy Holidays" or that they have ceased their demands that we must all be buried up to our nipples in the trappings of a Super-Christy Christmas season. Nor do we mean that they have "won" their battle, guaranteeing the religious sanctity of Christmas in the hearts and minds of secular America. No, it's much simpler than that. Take, for example, the following story:
This holiday season, Wal-Mart isn't trumpeting big bargains only. It's also bringing "Christmas" back into its marketing, after several years of playing down the term.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Christmas cheer seems to be a hot trend this season as several other retailers including Kohl's Corp. and Macy's, a division of Federated Department Stores Inc., are also stepping up their Christmas marketing. The moves respond to mounting criticism from religious groups that staged boycotts against Wal-Mart and other merchants after they eliminated or de-emphasized "Christmas" in their advertising.
Wal-Mart said Thursday that it will launch its first Christmas-specific TV ad in several years, feature Christmas shops, previously called Holiday Shops, and increase the number of seasonal merchandise labeled "Christmas" instead of "holiday" by 60 percent.
All right, religiosos, settle down. Because despite your confident assurance that you're finally "winning" the fictitious War on Christmas, you don't seem to realize the real winner here: basic freedom and civil liberties.
In our own Rants on this topic (such as our focus on lying sack of shit Bill O'Reilly), we've discussed why the whole concept of the War on Christmas was a crock. The rabid zealots and rabblerousers painted it thusly: the move by most major retail outlets and other private commercial interests away from emblazoning "Merry Christmas" on their properties and toward displaying the much more innocuous "Happy Holidays" on their properties is some sort of mass conspiracy to rob Christians of their rightful place on top of the American food chain.
The truth is much simpler: the people in charge of these commercial interests felt that it was better for business to be inclusive of all potential consumers as opposed to just a portion — however sizable — of their consumer base. Rather than pandering to the Christian sense of entitlement, they played the odds and did what they had to do in order to keep the business coming in. There was no conspiracy. There was no malicious intent. There was no War on Christmas.
Now, all that said, Wal-Mart is a privately owned corporation. They are not restricted by the separation of church and state, for the very simple reason that they aren't the state. Therefore, if they want to say "Happy Holidays," or switch back to "Merry Christmas," or even go with "Joyous Fucking Reacharound Day," it's entirely up to them. We personally wouldn't recommend that last; while it would certainly entertain us enough that we might shop at Wal-Mart, we doubt it would play so well in Peoria. But the fact remains, they get to say what they want, period...
...and this goes both ways. That is, when they switched from "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays," the Christian fundies had no fucking leg to stand on when they cried "persecution." It was Wal-Mart's choice. Now that they're switching back to "Merry Christmas" again, we won't be complaining, for the very same damn reason — it's Wal-Mart's choice.
So who won the War on Christmas? Civil liberties won; the Wal-Mart brass have demonstrated that they are fully capable of making their own decisions regarding their own business practices. Capitalism won; the move back to "Merry Christmas" on the part of major outfits like Kohl's and Macy's proves once again that the free market is just that — free. The Christians won; Wal-Mart and others will be giving them what they want, specially picking them out for some grand honor like giving the noisy kid at the Burger King a gold-colored paper crown. And, believe it or not, rational civil libertarians won; for one thing, we won't have to hear so many complaints from the fundies, and for another, we won because civil liberties won.
The point of our republic, which emphasizes civil liberties for its citizens, is to let any private concern do what they feel like, as long as they're not screwing with another private concern. By private concern, we mean both individuals and privately-held corporations. Wal-Mart's switch to "Happy Holidays" upholds this principle; their switch back to "Merry Christmas" upholds this principle. Christians choosing not to shop at a "Happy Holidays" establishment upholds this principle; Christians choosing to shop at a "Merry Christmas" establishment upholds this principle. The free market, both in the sense of allowing corporations to determine their own practices and in the sense of allowing consumers to make their own decisions on patronage, upholds this principle. So as long as the government isn't getting into the act, as long as Christians aren't forcing "Merry Christmas" down our throats and we're not forcing "Happy Holidays" down theirs, this principle is upheld, and civil liberties win.
Here's an analogy that might bring it home for you: it may arguably have been a bad PR move for Danny DeVito to show up at The View totally fucking plastered, but assuming he's not breaking any laws (he probably had a limo and a driver), he's perfectly welcome to do so. Likewise, it may arguably be a bad PR move for Wal-Mart to switch back to "Merry Christmas," but they're perfectly welcome to do so, too.
So to any Christian readers who buy into this silly crock of shit, here's the bottom line: if believing that you've won the make-believe War on Christmas is what it takes for us to stop hearing about the make-believe War on Christmas, then go right ahead and believe it. Hey, you're all experts at clinging to vacuous belief systems despite mountains of facts to the contrary, so this proposition should be no trouble at all. And if you can keep your pie holes shut for another two weeks, maybe we can all enjoy the holidays this year.
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[ Filed under: % Civil Liberties % Religion % Two Percent Toons ]
Akusai, 2006.12.14 (Thu) 02:52 [Link] »
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The Two Percent Company, 2006.12.14 (Thu) 20:10 [Link] »
Akusai, 2006.12.17 (Sun) 11:28 [Link] »
Glintir, 2006.12.21 (Thu) 17:25 [Link] »
Akusai, 2006.12.22 (Fri) 05:40 [Link] »
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