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Ho! Ho! Ho! Friend or Foe!
November 30, 2005 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Ho! Ho! Ho! Friend or Foe! Falwell fighting for Holy Holiday! Bill O'Reilly joins the fray! But wait, where does the White House stand on this vital issue?
posted by Otis (206 comments total)

 
Where can I sign up for the "Foe" list?
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:56 AM on November 30, 2005


There is no war on Christmas.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:00 AM on November 30, 2005


Gentlemen and gentlewomen, we are being assailed by a concerted effort to tear Saturn from its rightful position as the cornerstone of Saturnalia. I urge you all to write your congressmen.
posted by Bugbread at 11:02 AM on November 30, 2005


You can add my name to the Foe column. Its rude as hell to say Merry Christmas to people regardless of their faith. Happy Holidays isn't rude, it conveys the same message but without the "my faith is more important than yours so nyah, nyah, nyah Merry Christmas, bitch!" mentality.

I'm apt to reply Merry X-Mas to someone who wishes me a Merry Christmas. That tends to burn them up.
posted by fenriq at 11:04 AM on November 30, 2005


This comment sums up the "war on Christmas" rather nicely.
posted by interrobang at 11:06 AM on November 30, 2005


They shouldn't, fenriq. Xmas has been used for hundreds of years in religious writing, where the X represents a Greek chi, the first letter of the Greek formulation of Christ. The OED cites its use as long ago as 1551.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:08 AM on November 30, 2005


I'm apt to reply Merry X-Mas to someone who wishes me a Merry Christmas. That tends to burn them up.

I'm an atheist, and I wish people "Merry Christmas" all the time. If you responded "Merry X-Mas" to me, I wouldn't be "burned up".

I'm on the Foe list against O'Reilly and Falwell simply because they're assholes. Don't lump me in with them simply because I'm honestly hoping you have a good Winter Solstice/Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/(insert new age holiday du jour)/etc, and "Merry Christmas" has just become shorthand well-wishing for the secular giving of gifts and buying of tree and fighting for a place in line at the Wal Mart in which my family participates every year.
posted by thanotopsis at 11:09 AM on November 30, 2005


The War on Christmas is similar to The War on Everybody Gets Together to Go To the High School Basketball Game, The War on Everybody Gathers Around the Radio to Listen to The Shadow, The War on Getting a Hot Dog With Your Lady at the A&W on a Friday Night, The War on...

Sorry, got carried away. Things change and some people don't like it. That's all this is.
posted by billysumday at 11:10 AM on November 30, 2005


That confused me too (probably because I've heard Xmas and Christmas used synonymously since forever). It's like saying "If someone says 'Merry Christmas' to me, I'll say 'Feliz Navidad' back to 'em! That'll rile 'em!"
posted by Bugbread at 11:12 AM on November 30, 2005


Who needs professional comedy writers when you have this...

HENICAN: Christians are polite, Bill O'Reilly.

O'REILLY: You are the...

HENICAN: Be polite. Be inclusive. Be loving.

O'REILLY: You are the anti-Christ.

HENICAN: Merry Christmas, my friend.

BROWN: Include all of us.

O'REILLY: You're the anti-Christ.

HENICAN: I am.

O'REILLY: I'm forgiving everybody.

HENICAN: I got Christmas cookies for you.

O'REILLY: Yes, filled with pot.

posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:13 AM on November 30, 2005


HENICAN: Be polite.

O'REILLY: Thank you, madam.

HENICAN: Christians are polite, Bill O'Reilly.

O'REILLY: You are the...

HENICAN: Be polite. Be inclusive. Be loving.

O'REILLY: You are the anti-Christ.

HENICAN: Merry Christmas, my friend.

BROWN: Include all of us.

O'REILLY: You're the anti-Christ.

posted by odinsdream at 11:13 AM on November 30, 2005


err...
posted by odinsdream at 11:14 AM on November 30, 2005


How many anti-christs can there be? I thought about starting pickmebill.com when he was going to announce his enemies list.

merry fucking holidays to one and all.

wouldn't it be funny to see bill on pot cookies?
posted by edgeways at 11:19 AM on November 30, 2005


There is no war on Christmas.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:00 PM CST on November 30


This is correct to the extent you used the word "war." Those of O'Reilly's stripe needlessly overstate the case by suggesting that there is a war, with the intent to create a "good guys vs bad guys" construction.

But it is complete piffle to suggest there isn't an on-going trend to remove Christian ideas from the holiday. One can see it everywhere. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, one can argue. But to suggest that the trend isn't noticeable and obvious is to be the definition of disingenuous.

Its rude as hell to say Merry Christmas to people regardless of their faith.

Why? If you don't believe, why do you care if someone wishes you a nice ____?. I don't believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but if you told me that it was his birthday, and wished me a happy one, I would care less. Or if you told me, "I hope you have a nice winter solstice" why would I get upset because you believe in it and want me to enjoy a time. Why should I get offended by your beliefs? Especially when they are expressed in a pleasant and good-natured manner. You don't believe in Jesus and don't like the Christmas holiday? Fine and good; don't participate. Why is it not enough that you can choose to not believe and not participate, but instead need to have other people subjugate their cheer to satisfy you? Why is the default response just "This is their holiday, I hope they enjoy it"?

(And I am using the generic "you." I'm not addressing fenriq specifically.)
posted by dios at 11:20 AM on November 30, 2005


"Sounds like the confused against the mistaken, with the well-meaning screwing things up on both sides."
posted by alumshubby at 11:21 AM on November 30, 2005


Merry Christmas all. Only 25 shopping days left.
posted by caddis at 11:21 AM on November 30, 2005


That last question should say:
Why isn't the default response just "This is their holiday, I hope they enjoy it"?
posted by dios at 11:22 AM on November 30, 2005


So dios do you support the boycott on Target?
posted by ozomatli at 11:25 AM on November 30, 2005


Metafilter: Yes, filled with pot.
posted by stenseng at 11:25 AM on November 30, 2005


Dios: Because elementary civility and politeness is so passe'?
posted by JB71 at 11:26 AM on November 30, 2005


So dios do you support the boycott on Target?
posted by ozomatli at 1:25 PM CST on November 30


I was not aware of one. But if there is one because of their choice to use Happy Holidays instead of Christmas, I wouldn't support a boycott. That is their corporate decision. They are free to decide how they want to market to themselves and need only to answer to their stockholders based on the response they get for how they market themselves. I have no problem with that decision. It doesn't offend me. I don't shop at Target, but if I did, such a decision by Target would not effect my buying patterns. But it is not my place to demand other people openly celebrate Christmas any more than it is not the place of other people to demand people don't openly celebrate Christmas.
posted by dios at 11:30 AM on November 30, 2005


Dios: Because elementary civility and politeness is so passe'?
posted by JB71 at 1:26 PM CST on November 30


Elementary civility begins with the notion that other people have their beliefs, and we should not get offended by their good-natured expressions of their beliefs. Thus, person A wishing person B good will is a civil act regardless of the basis. Person B getting upset with Person A's good wishes because Person A has a set of beliefs different than Person B is incivility.
posted by dios at 11:32 AM on November 30, 2005


Because, dios, there is an active movement to require professed Christianity in all walks of life and there are more than enough Christians "witnessing" for it to just be rude, presumptuous, and annoying. Does it bother you when it's assumed that, because you're on Metafilter, you must be a foaming at the mouth liberal? It should.
posted by stet at 11:32 AM on November 30, 2005


dios, I think the point is that wishing someone a Merry Christmas when they don't care is exclusive, whereas saying "Happy Holidays" is inclusive and, as a result, nicer.

Some people seem to take this more personally and consider it offensive to either ignore other people's holidays by being exclusive, or to "dilute" their individual holiday by using a more generic term.

I find it preferable to be inclusive and spread some holiday cheer with a "Happy Holidays" to people whose beliefs I don't know and a "Merry Christmas" to those who I know celebrate it.
posted by papercake at 11:33 AM on November 30, 2005


i hope Santa brings me a choo-choo.
posted by NationalKato at 11:35 AM on November 30, 2005


I am always surprised by the amount of time people are willing to expend on empty debates. I know something must be very wrong when I find myself agreeing one hundred percent with dear dios. It is absolutely ridiculous to be offended by someone wishing you a "Merry Christmas". Where is the offense? Exactly how wishing a friend a happy Ramadan or a happy Yon Kippur is offensive? My Jewish friends usually wish me a Merry Christmas (because they assume I am a Christian) and I have never seem one them offended when someone who does not know them well whishes them a Merry Christmas too.

This discussion so pointless that the American press must be loving it. Have the Cable News already sent their embedded correspondents to the War on Christmas?
posted by nkyad at 11:36 AM on November 30, 2005


Well dios you and I are mostly in agreement then. Yes there is a boycott against Target for using Happy Hollidays and not using Merry Christmas enough. There is also plans to out any buisness that does not explicitly emphasize Merry Christmas instead of Happy Hollidays and boycott them as well.
posted by ozomatli at 11:36 AM on November 30, 2005


Stet: there is an active movement to require professed Christianity in all walks of life

Um, I must have missed the memo on that one. Care to expand a bit?
posted by JB71 at 11:36 AM on November 30, 2005


YAY!
posted by es_de_bah at 11:36 AM on November 30, 2005


But it is complete piffle to suggest there isn't an on-going trend to remove Christian ideas from the holiday.... But to suggest that the trend isn't noticeable and obvious is to be the definition of disingenuous.

Really? Because what I see are advertisers and corporations who wish to be as universally inclusive as possible using "Happy Holidays" as a way to foist Elmo dolls and VCR's to as many people as possible. What I also see are old, white, rich men in the establishment media finding another "red-meat" issue to act outraged about for ratings, so they can in-turn charge more for advertising.

It's straw-man populism. Set up a fake target, and hold it's "feet to the fire" Either O'Reilly is the most cynical fuck on the planet, or he actually thinks he's holding someone "accountable" when his staff badgers Macy's about wether or not some wage slave can say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays". It's too asinine for words.

Besides the ACLU occasionally suing some backwoods town for having a Manger scene on government property, where exactly is this "obvious trend" to marginalized the "Christ" in Christmas?
posted by SweetJesus at 11:37 AM on November 30, 2005


Dammit, boycotting Target for not saying,"Merry Christmas" really screws up my plans to boycott Target for allowing their pharmacists to refuse women health care.

Damn this modern cesspool of moral ambiguity!
posted by stet at 11:38 AM on November 30, 2005


JB71: I watched the Country Music Awards.
posted by stet at 11:39 AM on November 30, 2005


Because, dios, there is an active movement to require professed Christianity in all walks of life

This is just nonsense.

dios, I think the point is that wishing someone a Merry Christmas when they don't care is exclusive, whereas saying "Happy Holidays" is inclusive and, as a result, nicer.

But then you are depriving the right of a person to believe that the time of year is Christmas and to wish people a good season.

Look, here is the conundrum: Those opposed to respecting others' views about a holiday based on their personal beliefs are demanding that people respect their own views about the same holiday.

The only reasonable response: if you believe in it, you are free to openly celebrate it. If you don't believe in it, you are free to openly not celebreat it. Any attempts by either side to alter the convictions and behavior of the other side is dogmatic. After all, the issue here is a good-spirited holiday.
posted by dios at 11:39 AM on November 30, 2005


by the way would you really wish someone Happy Yom Kippur or Happy Ramadan? I mean I don't see those as celebrations necessarily, more as holy days.
posted by ozomatli at 11:41 AM on November 30, 2005


dios: But it is complete piffle to suggest there isn't an on-going trend to remove Christian ideas from the holiday. One can see it everywhere.

I can't.

What i can see everywhere is a concerted if tacit effort to monetize christian ideas w.r.t. to the christmas holiday. It's the same trend I see in the evangelical movement, with the rise of the christian entertainment complex.

Much as they like to dress up what they do in holy clothes, American fundamentalism as a movement is all about commerce, 24x7.
posted by lodurr at 11:42 AM on November 30, 2005


dios: But then you are depriving the right of a person to believe that the time of year is Christmas and to wish people a good season.

I do hope you're trying to make fun of someone when you put it that way. Because, of course, saying "happy holidays" to someone in no conceivable way prevents them from believing it's christmas....
posted by lodurr at 11:44 AM on November 30, 2005


But it is complete piffle to suggest there isn't an on-going trend to remove Christian ideas from the holiday.

Eh. If there's a "trend" it's toward politeness and neighborliness -- more and more kind people are realizing that it's polite not to make assumptions about others and it's polite not to assume one's own religion/traditions are practiced by everyone else.

Stet: there is an active movement to require professed Christianity in all walks of life

Um, I must have missed the memo on that one. Care to expand a bit


It's called "Christianity." With the exception of a few sects, most Christians consider it part of thier religious duty to convert nonbelievers to Christianity.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:44 AM on November 30, 2005


Stet:

Last I heard, listening to C&W music wasn't yet mandatory.

(And I'm not looking forward to the day it is.)

Yet, IIRC, there's usually been a strong thread of faith going through the C&W genre. Then again, I've never been too fond of it after listening to it for a year in an office where it seemed the major themes were his wife ran off with his dog and is now with his ex-best friend... and he misses the dog.

Um. Somehow, that has an entirely different connotation these days. Makes you wonder, sometimes...
posted by JB71 at 11:44 AM on November 30, 2005


Happy Saturnalia!
posted by homunculus at 11:46 AM on November 30, 2005


You know what? Go ahead and fucking say Merry Christmas. Who the fuck cares?


A better question, why is the entire month of December associated with the holidays? Fuck that. All of June isn't spent walking around going "Happy 4th of July!" I'm sick of holidays already, and it's not even December.
posted by graventy at 11:46 AM on November 30, 2005


I am an rude atheist who thinks Christians are mostly dumb, yet who regardless doesn't give a shit if someone tells me "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Chanukah" or "Hey It's Fuck You Day So Fuck You," so the War On Christmas is probably being waged by about five or six dorks no one cares about; it is therefore a non-issue THREAD DESTROYED
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:46 AM on November 30, 2005


Either O'Reilly is the most cynical fuck on the planet, or he actually thinks he's holding someone "accountable"....

Nah, he's just trying to charge up his heavenly bank account. You know what they say: There's none more zealous about morality than the whore turned respectable.
posted by lodurr at 11:46 AM on November 30, 2005


dios, I'm not depriving anyone of the right to wish me merry christmas or tell me about lyndon larouche or whatever, I'm saying it's rude and presumptuous and disrespectful. It's an issue of manners and, if evangelical christians had any, it wouldn't be an issue at all.

As for the active movement, I guess I overstated a bit, but these guys are a wee bit troubling, no?
posted by stet at 11:47 AM on November 30, 2005


"This is their holiday, I hope they enjoy it"?

Well, the obvious reason is that it's also a secular holiday. The pagan ritual of bringing in an evergreen and singing joyful songs and getting together with family & friends in the darkest time of year is still celebrated by many, including many christians. Some christians also celebrate the christian incarnation of the holiday - midnite mass & the ceremonial birth of jesus. But to suggest that a midwinter festival requires a belief in a particular ancient prophet's claims is just silly.

It isn't a "war on xmas" but in the public realm the inclusive holiday is more polite. If you're technically christian, you do technically believe that non-christians will go to hell, so there's kind of an undercurrent of nastiness in a christian wishing a non-christian a happy xmas. But anyone can have fully positive wishes for a joyous holiday season...

Or if you told me, "I hope you have a nice winter solstice" why would I get upset because you believe in it and want me to enjoy a time.

but there's nothing to believe or not believe in when it comes to a winter solstice. It's the darkest, coldest time of the year, and someone is wishing you well, to have a warm, cozy, homey place to spend it, to make it feel warm & enjoyable in spite of its objectively being the most depressing part of the year. A real fundy Christmas is not like that - christmas, technically, is asking the person to celebrate the birth of the man-god prophesied to cast all unbelievers in a lake of fire. If the person is not christian, it's not really that nice a thing to say.
posted by mdn at 11:47 AM on November 30, 2005


Eustacescrubb:

Possibly - but there's some who are a lot less pushy about it than others. I'm not too fond of Southern Baptists myself. But the Christians I know will take 'no' for an answer. Then again, they ARE nominal Methodists.
posted by JB71 at 11:47 AM on November 30, 2005


What happened to Optimus Chyme?
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:48 AM on November 30, 2005


Wow, I'm with Dios on this one. You guys are foamy-mouthed liberals.
posted by undule at 11:49 AM on November 30, 2005


"Merry Christmas" is for babies.

I wish everyone a "Happy Jesus Jesus Jesus Day" and if you don't, well I hope you're please with yourself, Mr. Tool-of-Satan.

Tough talk? Yes. But in the war on "Jesus Jesus Jesus Day," you're either for us or you're against us.
posted by PlusDistance at 11:49 AM on November 30, 2005


FOX are traitors in the war to defend Christmas. Somebody let O'Reilly know.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:50 AM on November 30, 2005


Its rude as hell to say Merry Christmas to people regardless of their faith.

Pshaww! (and by the way, "Hell" should be capitalized)

If I don't know someone, I am more apt to wish them Happy Holidays than Merry Christmas just so as not to inadvertently offend them. However, if someone does celebrate Christmas I hardly see how it is "rude as hell (sic)" to wish them a Merry Christmas.

I also agree with interrobang. This is just a FOX marketing stunt, up there with the continuing saga of Natalie H.
posted by caddis at 11:54 AM on November 30, 2005


I've decided to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster (had a vision last night) is there holiday I should be celebrating and wishing people to have a merry/happy of?
posted by aladfar at 11:54 AM on November 30, 2005


Even "Happy Holidays" is exclusive. Jehovah's Witnesses, for instance, celebrate no holidays and will pull their children out of any holiday-related school events. Many athiests don't celebrate holidays, though many celebrate in a secular fashion.

My point? Use a holiday greeting if you feel like it. If you don't feel like dealing, make it community-appropriate. If you intentionally do otherwise, expect odd reactions and be prepared to discuss.

But by all means be civil about it regardless. <irony>After all, 'tis the season </irony>
posted by gurple at 11:55 AM on November 30, 2005


I don't believe in Santa Claus. There, I've said it...
posted by ob at 11:55 AM on November 30, 2005


ozomatli : "by the way would you really wish someone Happy Yom Kippur or Happy Ramadan?"

I've wished both. And Happy Kwanzaa. And Happy Saturnalia. And Happy Festivus. When you don't believe in the background, what you're basically saying is "Happy".

lodurr : "What i can see everywhere is a concerted if tacit effort to monetize christian ideas w.r.t. to the christmas holiday. American fundamentalism as a movement is all about commerce, 24x7."

That's odd. What I can see everywhere are retailers making an effort to straddle a middle line, to the degree possible, where they can get money from people of every religious denomination, as well as those without religious denominations. The people doing it are also from every religious denomination, as well as those without religious denominations.

People who run businesses try to get more money. If the people are Christians, they are Christians trying to get more money. If they are atheists, they are atheists trying to get more money. If they are Hindus, they are Hindus trying to get more money. It just happens that a lot of business owners in America are Christian, because, hey, a lot of Americans are Christian! Saying that somehow business trying to get money by appealing to a wide base is an example of American fundamentalist monetary policy is like saying that the Y chromosome is genetically coded to make people like the color black and dislike the color red, because most large corporation CEOs are men, and they prefer to be in the black rather than in the red.
posted by Bugbread at 11:56 AM on November 30, 2005


Christmas is a Christian holiday? Since when?
posted by chunking express at 11:56 AM on November 30, 2005


What happened to Optimus Chyme?
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:48 AM PST on November 30


Dude, the religious right wants a War On Christmas. They need enemies to survive. They can get all their troops together and confer with Generals Coulter and O'Reilly and be all ready to go, but fuck that: I'll be behind their front lines, decorating my tree and enjoying the time off work.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:56 AM on November 30, 2005


It saddens me to see all of you talking about the meaning of Christmas and not include Santa Claus in the discussion. How would you like it if you had to squeeze your fat ass down all those chimneys and not get any recognition for your hard work?
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 11:56 AM on November 30, 2005


Now I am in agreement with dios that people should not be upset about saying "Merry Christmas", but he did in fact derail the thread slightly. The point is not that people should not say "Merry Christmas", but rather that large influential groups are threatening reprisal against those who don't. SIlly PC anti-PCness aside, is saying "Happy Hollidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" so offensive that it should be punished?
posted by ozomatli at 11:57 AM on November 30, 2005


"Hey It's Fuck You Day So Fuck You,"

Best holiday greeting ever.
posted by odinsdream at 11:57 AM on November 30, 2005


Happy Yule, one and all. May your gods and goddesses feast amply upon your organs.
posted by tr33hggr at 11:57 AM on November 30, 2005


This is not in reference to any specific comment, more of a general stream of conciousness.

As a Jew around the holiday times, I genuinely appreciate people that go the extra yard to wish me a Happy Holidays as opposed to a Merry Christmas.

Christmas, no matter what you think about the commercialization, presents, trees, pagan roots, and whatever, is about the birth of christ.

I find specific references to christmas to be distasteful, and to some degree, downright offensive. I don't practice the christian faith, I don't put up a tree, lights, decorations, and never have.

The concept of holiday cheer is one I don't mind. I do mind this specific assumption that everyone in this entire country should take their christmas blessings, decorations and so on without raising a fuss.

Christmas is a christian holiday. Pushing christmas as the only thing that happens around the holiday season, and to a degree, assuming that everyone celebrates the birth of christ, is patently offensive.

I'm not saying you shouldn't do it, but don't assume that you're not being an ass by deliberately wishing everyone a merry christmas.

It's not my right to not be offended, and it's not your responsibility to not be offensive, but think about what you're saying to your fellow man/woman.

Merry Christmas as the only holiday greeting is deliberately exclusionary. That's not what the holidays are or should be about.
posted by Lord_Pall at 11:57 AM on November 30, 2005


Graventy, you just don't understand that christmas isn't just about christmas. It's actually a long festival-time that stretches ("officially") from Black Friday through New Years Eve. [self/]

People have some interesting misconceptions about religion and religious festivals. For example, they think that people can only have one religion; most people I know observe at least two (christianity and capitalism). They think that religious festivals are about the religion or about god; they're much more about culture and community. For that matter, they think religions have something to do with belief in god, and they don't, not really -- they're really (again) about culture and community.
posted by lodurr at 11:59 AM on November 30, 2005


"War": second most overused term of the new millenium after "extreme".

However, there is obviously a move afoot to remove religious connotation from the holiday season. At the same time, there is no central command behind it, it's just an outcome of various social trends, primarily driven by the desire of marketers to sell into the largest possible market. Yes, there are many Christmas songs still being played on radio. My prediction: we'll see many of these re-recorded in future minus the overt Christian references as history continues rewriting itself as always.

Personally, I'd like to see Christmas seriously reduced in significance from both a Christianity perspective and a social / commercial one. I don't think it's current manifestation is especially healthy in either sphere.

"my faith is more important than yours so nyah, nyah, nyah Merry Christmas, bitch!"


I don't believe this is any more real than the supposed war on Christmas. When people wish you a merry Christmas they're being polite and wishing you well basically. I also, entirely free of malevolent intent, wish people happy Diwali and Gung Hay Fat Choy.

there is an active movement to require professed Christianity in all walks of life


Really? All walks of life? Can you expand on that a little?
posted by scheptech at 11:59 AM on November 30, 2005


OH FOR THE LOVE OF .....WHATEVER YOU BELEIVE IN!!!
Now were letting politics into Christmas? America needs a month long siesta.
posted by wheelieman at 12:01 PM on November 30, 2005


Nah, he's just trying to charge up his heavenly bank account. You know what they say: There's none more zealous about morality than the whore turned respectable.

Which is why I think he's the most cynical fuck on the face of the planet. He's out there railing against the forces of the "Secular-Progressive Cabal" and the "Socialists at the New York Times", but he doesn't actually believe what he spouts. It's talking points for people who wouldn't know a Socialist if one came and repossessed their property for the State - Red Meat for the unwashed masses.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:01 PM on November 30, 2005


Is it rude to wish someone a Happy Earth Day? My guess is no, even though there may be people don't think the environment is in danger and don't believe that they need to worry about it.

Is it rude to wish someone a Happy Fourth of July? My guess is no, even though there may be people who aren't citizens and do not care for the United States but are here on vacation.

Is it rude to wish someone a Happy New Year's? My guess is no, even though there may be people who don't believe in the Gregorian calender.

Is it rude to wish someone a Happy Easter? My guess is no.

Christmas? Chanakuh? Kwanzaa? Winter solstice (which I thought was a pagan holiday)? My guess is no.
posted by dios at 12:01 PM on November 30, 2005


Saying "Merry Christmas" may not be polite (it makes assumed conclusions as to your religion), but it is in general nothing to be upset about. Kind of on the line of someone saying "bless you" when you sneeze.

oh and

"I hope you have a nice winter solstice" why would I get upset because you believe in it and want me to enjoy a time."... You don't believe in an astrological event? <---- not meant to be serious, just struck me as funny.
posted by edgeways at 12:02 PM on November 30, 2005


This "debate" is possibly the most stupid thing ever in the history of the American Republic.

EVER!
posted by mr_roboto at 12:02 PM on November 30, 2005


mdn : "christmas, technically, is asking the person to celebrate the birth of the man-god prophesied to cast all unbelievers in a lake of fire."

They totally gave me the pussy version overview of the New Testament when I was a kid. Not that I don't believe you (it's probably somewhere there in Revelations), but to hear my hippy pastor talk about it, you'd figure that was like saying Woodrow Wilson's job was turning on the White House thermostat, and all his policy decisions were more of a side hobby.

gurple : "Even 'Happy Holidays' is exclusive."

I think it's the "Holi" part ^_^
If you really want to be sensitive, go for "Season's Greetings". It's holiday neutral, and it doesn't even put the onus of happiness on someone. It's a season (I know of no-one who disbelieves in them, you'd have to roll too many consecutive 20s to succeed), and it's indeed a greeting, so there's spectacularly little to disagree with.
posted by Bugbread at 12:05 PM on November 30, 2005


The point is not that people should not say "Merry Christmas", but rather that large influential groups are threatening reprisal against those who don't.
posted by ozomatli at 11:57 AM PST on November 30


Knock another one percent off the sale price and all the formerly outraged citizens will trample over their children's broken corpses to get inside.

Is it rude to wish someone a Happy Earth Day? / Happy Fourth of July? / Happy New Year's? / Happy Easter? / Christmas? / Chanakuh?/ Kwanzaa?
posted by dios at 12:01 PM PST on November 30


The point is not that people should not say "Merry Christmas", but rather that large influential groups are threatening reprisal against those who don't.
posted by ozomatli at 11:57 AM PST on November 30

posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:07 PM on November 30, 2005


The Winter Solstice is an astromical event, but some people have celebrations based around that day. See also Vernal Equinox.
posted by ozomatli at 12:07 PM on November 30, 2005


dios: But it is complete piffle to suggest there isn't an on-going trend to remove Christian ideas from the holiday. One can see it everywhere.

I don't know. Elsewhere in the Christian world there is a fair amount of resistance to the Americanization of the Christmas holiday from a personal and religous Holy Day to a two-month commercial event. In the (United Methodist) Church of my childhood, at least one sermon every Advent was focused on criticism of the commercial dillution of Christmas as a marketing gimmick advocated by both the Fallwell and O'Reilly articles. The appropriation of Christmas by stores like Macey's and Target (along with extended use of Christmas advertising) is not seen as a good thing by many Christians.

I think O'Reilly is wrong on two counts. First, Christmas was not a huge holiday for the Founding Fathers, and second, our Founding Fathers were living at the tail end of the reformation, and were quite aware of the existance of Christian religious groups that did not celebrate Christmas. (The fact that a separation between Church and State appears in two places in the Constitution reflects this.) Christmas celebrations were banned for a period of time by Puritans in Colonial Boston, and early Quakers also did not celebrate special feast days. In the 1700s, there were many groups that objected to some of the trappings of Christmas celebrations as holdovers from Catholicism.

I think the interview shows that O'Reilly does not speak all contemporary Christians on this issue, and really has no understanding about the history of religious diversity in the United States.

The only reasonable response: if you believe in it, you are free to openly celebrate it. If you don't believe in it, you are free to openly not celebreat it. Any attempts by either side to alter the convictions and behavior of the other side is dogmatic.

Well, there is the problem. I don't care if people wish me "Merry Christmas" but my reading of O'Reilly and Fallwell is that I'm the "anti-Christ" to use O'Reilly's term, for printing "Happy Holidays" on a sign announcing that my office will be closed for inventory. I'm not seeking to compel their behavior, except where my tax dollars are involved, but they seek to compel my behavior.

On preview, what ozomatli said.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:07 PM on November 30, 2005


So, let's be clear, dios: You think that Falwell is in the wrong on this, correct?

Because he is, explicityly, trying to coerce people and institutions into saying "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays."

Or are you saying that it's find for him to get a burr up his ass about something, but it's not ok for the rest of us?
posted by lodurr at 12:08 PM on November 30, 2005


I really wish people would stop fighting and embrace the authentic celebration of Christmas (and Easter).
posted by illovich at 12:09 PM on November 30, 2005


I am an rude atheist who thinks Christians are mostly dumb, yet who regardless doesn't give a shit if someone tells me "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Chanukah" or "Hey It's Fuck You Day So Fuck You," so the War On Christmas is probably being waged by about five or six dorks no one cares about; it is therefore a non-issue THREAD DESTROYED

I nominate january 7th as the offical "Fuck YOU" day. Couples fuck eachother and everyone else is rude to eachother. Stores and whatnot will make a killing on gag gifts, extending the holiday shopping season.
posted by delmoi at 12:13 PM on November 30, 2005


I celebrate Giftstravaganza, a secular consumer oriented holiday. I don't think its rude to be wished a happy Chanukah or Ramadan or Christmas. I think its kind of silly to be upset by someone wishing well on holiday you don't celebrate.

That said these people are nuts to demand that everyone use their particular seasonal greeting is pretty insane. "Happy Holidays, Happy Holidays! There is only one holiday , it is not pluralized. That holiday is Christmas, Jesus was born! He got myrrh! And I will not be happy, no, I will be merry. A DOUGLAS FIR!"
posted by I Foody at 12:14 PM on November 30, 2005


Eek, glad I live in a secular country (with an established religion, and a head of state who's also head of the state church, but whatever). Alternatively, perhaps I've been offending people left, right and centre by saying Merry Christmas.

Like Lord Melbourne, if I am not a pillar of the Church of England, I am at least a buttress, for I support it from the outside. But I still dished out a few "Eid Mubaraks" to Muslim acquaintances when I lived in a very Muslim area of London. They didn't seem to mind.
posted by athenian at 12:15 PM on November 30, 2005


chunking express : "Christmas is a Christian holiday? Since when?"

Technically, always (since established somewhere around the 4th century). It does, after all, mean "Christ's Mass", so it's a bit of a tautology. That isn't to say that December 25th isn't a holiday of other religions as well (Go, Sol Invectus, go!), any more than saying "October 25th is bugbread's birthday" is untrue because it's also Pablo Picasso's birthday.

lodurr : "For example, they think that people can only have one religion; most people I know observe at least two (christianity and capitalism)"

If you want to convince people with this argument, you should probably skip the clever-but-snarky "christianity and capitalism" (after all, the only people that illuminates are the ones who already agree with you) and go for some of the actual dualistic religious beliefs: most Japanese believe to some degree in both Shinto and Buddhism.

dios : "Is it rude to wish someone a Happy New Year's? My guess is no, even though there may be people who don't believe in the Gregorian calender."

Man, that had never even occurred to me. That's great.
posted by Bugbread at 12:18 PM on November 30, 2005


lodurr: I thought I made the point clear up above. I don't personally agree with Falwell regarding the boycott, and I wouldn't stop shopping at my favorite store because they said Happy Holiday. That being said, there are many people who would do that. Because when a store says "we aren't going to say Christmas any more because it is bad/not inclusive enough/un-PC etc." it effectively telling those same people there is something wrong with providing goods for their holiday and identifying them as such. Do I think it is reasonable to be upset over that? Not personally. Do I begrudge people who make their buying decisions based on personal beliefs? I think it is silly, but I don't begrudge them.

I support the right of stores to say Merry Christmas. I support the right of stores to say Happy Holidays. I support the right of stores to say Happy ______. The only person they have to answer to is the buying public and their investors with respect to those decisions. There shouldn't be any laws about it; the issue shouldn't be cast in a Good Guys v Bad Guys "war". Do I think Falwell is wrong? To the extent he is demanding people to support his personal beliefs, then I say yes. To the extent he is merely saying, "insult my beliefs and I won't shop there," then I say no. I think such behavior is morally neutral, e.g. BuyBlue.
posted by dios at 12:18 PM on November 30, 2005


Is it rude to wish someone a Happy Earth Day? My guess is no, even though there may be people don't think the environment is in danger and don't believe that they need to worry about it.

The question isn't whether it's rude to say "Mary Christmas" it's whether it's offensive to Christians to say "happy holidays", which is what these nutbars seem to be implying, in order to get their base all lathered up and donating money. It's total B.S. and serving only to polarize the nation, piss people off, and make them hate eachother.

And I do think it could be rude to say "marry Christmas" to Jews and people of other non-Christian religions. Lots of Non-religious and barely Christian people celebrate Christmas, so it's not a big deal for Atheists (or shouldn't be) but if you're a jew (or a puritan) or something it would be offensive.
posted by delmoi at 12:19 PM on November 30, 2005


I'm not going to have the "is capitalism a religion" argument today, thank you, bugbread. When people react that strongly to the idea, I know it's a religious issue for them, and I try not to get into arguments with people who are in it out of religion.
posted by lodurr at 12:19 PM on November 30, 2005


dios: I don't personally agree with Falwell regarding the boycott...

Fair enough. Just wanted to be clear.
posted by lodurr at 12:20 PM on November 30, 2005


Is it rude to wish someone a Happy Easter? My guess is no.

this is such a telling statement it isn't even funny -- but maybe it isn't downright anti-semitism, it's just ignorance. or trolling. or all of the above.

yeah, why in the world should that be considered "rude", why?

just do that in front of your local shul, next Easter, and prepare to enjoy the cheering, d-os.
posted by matteo at 12:21 PM on November 30, 2005


most Christians consider it part of thier religious duty to convert nonbelievers to Christianity.

most advertisers consider it part of thier capitalist duty to convert non-users to users of thier product.

most friends consider it part of friendship to share things they like with other friends.

most metafilter members consider it a part of thier duty to make good FPP's and criticize those they don't care for.

yet, none of those things appear to engender foaming-mouthed rage in you. happy fuck your mother month!
posted by quonsar at 12:23 PM on November 30, 2005


But then you are depriving the right of a person to believe that the time of year is Christmas

This is just nonsense.

and to wish people a good season.

"A good season"? What kind of commie greeting is that?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:23 PM on November 30, 2005


Is it rude to wish someone a Happy Easter? My guess is no.

Happy Tet!
posted by SweetJesus at 12:24 PM on November 30, 2005


The day I see a pack of strong atheist street punks circle around the mall Santa Claus and kick the crap out of him, I'll be happy to sign Falwell's petition.
posted by Rothko at 12:24 PM on November 30, 2005


This meaningless war on Christmas is distracting us from our equally meaningless war with the French. Did you realize that people are *once again*asking for French Fries, eating French Toast, blowing French Horns, and French kissing????

The price of freedom (fries) is eternal vigilance (McDonalds = traitors)!!
posted by jasper411 at 12:26 PM on November 30, 2005


Are Falwell and O'Reilly going to go around painting yellow stars on Target stores next?
posted by Space Coyote at 12:26 PM on November 30, 2005


"by the way would you really wish someone Happy Yom Kippur or Happy Ramadan?"

I've wished both. And Happy Kwanzaa. And Happy Saturnalia. And Happy Festivus. When you don't believe in the background, what you're basically saying is "Happy".


I don't know much about Ramadan, but a "happy" Yom Kippur is kinda inappropriate. It's a fairly somber holiday.
posted by mdn at 12:28 PM on November 30, 2005


When wiill this 80% Christian country stop persecuting Christians?

I just say what Krusty the Clown says:
Have a Happy Hannukah, a Merry Christmas, a crazy Kwanzaa, a tip-top Tet, and a solem, dignified Ramadan.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:28 PM on November 30, 2005


Because when a store says "we aren't going to say Christmas any more because it is bad/not inclusive enough/un-PC etc." it effectively telling those same people there is something wrong with providing goods for their holiday and identifying them as such.

I think the reason to go with Holiday instead of Christmas for Target is to be more inclusive and try not to make people who celebrate a different holiday feel left out. I don't think it denigrates any one holiday. It is just good corporate strategy to try to keep all customers happy. Except that FOX News needed another story angle and started expressing faux outrage so it has backfired a bit on Target.
posted by caddis at 12:29 PM on November 30, 2005


And I do think it could be rude to say "merry Christmas" to Jews and people of other non-Christian religions. Lots of Non-religious and barely Christian people celebrate Christmas, so it's not a big deal for Atheists (or shouldn't be) but if you're a jew (or a puritan) or something it would be offensive.

I think the answer is if you mean well, no-one should mind. We deliberately didn't send a Christmas card to a Jewish friend of ours because we thought he'd be offended, or at least be a bit confused.

He was *so* offended. "You didn't send me a Christmas card?!"
posted by athenian at 12:29 PM on November 30, 2005


When wiill this 80% Christian country stop persecuting Christians?

You bring up a good point with respect to the percentage of the country that self-identifies as Christian. If 80% of the people believe in X, is it rude to market to something they all believe in? Is it rude to say Merry Christmas to someone when you have an 80% chance they are on the same page?

I'd say 80% of the US speaks English. Is it rude to speak English to strangers? After all, they might not speak English themselves. It might be considered a rude ethnocentric presumption.
posted by dios at 12:32 PM on November 30, 2005


... war with the French.

Well, at least the administration has been suitably zealous in pursuing it's world-wide offensive against French Letters.

.... must resist urge to make stupid os x joke...
posted by lodurr at 12:33 PM on November 30, 2005


Is it rude to speak English to strangers?

Is speaking English a religious activity?
posted by Rothko at 12:36 PM on November 30, 2005


matteo: this is such a telling statement it isn't even funny -- but maybe it isn't downright anti-semitism

Come on, isn't this line of thinking sort of bullshit? Because of fucked up medieval anti-semitism Christians may never again wish a Jew "Happy Easter," even in error?

Seriously. This is the type of grudge holding that makes people so unreasonable. In my opinion, if you're getting pissed off because someone wishes you a happy holiday, it's your issue.

In my opinion it's not anti-Semitic to wish a Jew a Happy Easter (assuming it's a mistake and not meant mean-spiritedly), but it's ridiculous to get offended by it.

Becoming offended when someone is trying to wish you a happy (whatever holiday) is the opposite of tolerance and understanding. Living in the world and with diversity means that everyone needs equal consideration, even the majority. If they wish you a happy their-holiday, why would it upset you?

If they're trying to convert you, it's one thing... but come on. Wishing you a happy holiday isn't exactly insulting.


(disclosure: I am a Jew/Christian creole that grew up in an interfaith (JudeoCatholic -- yikes, the guilt!) family that celebrates major holidays of both religions)
posted by illovich at 12:36 PM on November 30, 2005


So are we done with the airing of grievances? Can we move on to the feats of strength now?
posted by blue_beetle at 12:37 PM on November 30, 2005


I'd say 80% of the US speaks English. Is it rude to speak English to strangers? After all, they might not speak English themselves. It might be considered a rude ethnocentric presumption.
posted by dios at 12:32 PM PST on November 30


Hey. Speaking of speaking English, it appears you can write but not read it:

The point is not that people should not say "Merry Christmas", but rather that large influential groups are threatening reprisal against those who don't.
posted by ozomatli at 11:57 AM PST on November 30

posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:37 PM on November 30, 2005


I think the reason to go with Holiday instead of Christmas for Target is to be more inclusive and try not to make people who celebrate a different holiday feel left out.

Which is but to say that the term was not inclusive enough, insufficient, or displayed some other negative trait. Or, to say, we want to market this to you based on your religious beliefs, but we don't want to look like we tacitly accept your beliefs because that would be bad. No matter how you carve it, some might be reasonable to view as a rejection of the propriety of the Christmas holiday being openly celebrated. As I said, I don't think that is a sensible reaction. But to those who have it, I don't think their response is unreasonable.
posted by dios at 12:38 PM on November 30, 2005


lodurr : "I'm not going to have the 'is capitalism a religion' argument today, thank you, bugbread. When people react that strongly to the idea, I know it's a religious issue for them, and I try not to get into arguments with people who are in it out of religion."

Er, yeah, that was my point. If you want to inform/convince someone of something, you should probably use examples that they wouldn't also disagree with. Otherwise your supporting evidence fails to...you know...support.

mdn : "I don't know much about Ramadan, but a 'happy' Yom Kippur is kinda inappropriate. It's a fairly somber holiday."

Thanks for the advice. I'll strike that from my list. Ramadan was the other one that I was feeling a bit iffy about.
posted by Bugbread at 12:39 PM on November 30, 2005


dios, you (and a lot of other people) seem a little hung up on the rudeness angle. Some people are saying that they personally find it rude; some people are generalizing from that and saying that those folks must think we ought to be PC. I just don't see that in the bulk of the comments holding that "merry christmas" is rude.

Personally, I find it a little annoying. But I also get annoyed by "Happy Holidays". I try to avoid saying either back, such as I can without seeming rude, because it feels disingenuous to me. I would prefer a simpler, more social and less commercial version of the christmas holidays. But hardly anybody (except a few people who know me a little too well) wishes me well for the holidays out of spite, so I leave it be.

Does that mean I think they should change what they say? No more than you do. I expect that's largely true of most of the people on this thread.
posted by lodurr at 12:40 PM on November 30, 2005


I'd say 80% of the US speaks English. Is it rude to speak English to strangers? After all, they might not speak English themselves. It might be considered a rude ethnocentric presumption.

worst. analogy. evar.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:40 PM on November 30, 2005


It strikes me as a pretty powerful symbol of the decline and fall of the American Empire that people getting trampled in stampedes is now practically a routine part of the beginning of the holiday shopping season and the public debate is being dominated by an argument over whether the signs over the stampeders' heads should read "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays."

I've decided to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster (had a vision last night) is there holiday I should be celebrating and wishing people to have a merry/happy of?

aladfar, if the FSM, in His infinite wisdom, had decreed an official holiday, I'm pretty sure it'd look a lot like Festivus.

On preview: You, too, blue_beetle.

And I'd like to wish dios a solemn, dignified Ramadan.

posted by gompa at 12:42 PM on November 30, 2005


dios : "Which is but to say that the term was not inclusive enough, insufficient, or displayed some other negative trait."

Well, yeah. If you're a retailer, and expression A includes 80% of people, and expression B includes 100% of people, then expression A was not inclusive enough for you. It's not like you need to show a Christian ID to get into Target; they want everyone's money. So, from their perspective, "Merry Christmas" was not inclusive enough, because it didn't include enough. And now they're finding out that expression A includes 80% of people, and expression B includes 100% of people, but some of those people are offended by this, and won't give their money. The key is what percent of those people it is. If it's 10% of the people, then Target wins by keeping B, as they now have a net 10% increase. Perhaps they'll do further research and come up with an expression C or local marketing to drive that net number higher. If the amount of people who won't give their money exceeds 20%, then Target would win by keeping A.

Which seems to be effectively what you're saying as well, but somehow it seems like you're saying it in disagreement, where it seems to actually be in agreement. Maybe I'm misreading your tone.
posted by Bugbread at 12:45 PM on November 30, 2005


Appropos of nothing, while I was waiting for the bus today, a woman came up and tried to give me a copy of Jack Chick's classic "The Empty Tomb." I said "no thank you." She said, "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" I said "I am a Buddhist." She said "Buddha is evil" and moved on.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:47 PM on November 30, 2005


Lodurr writes: "dios, you (and a lot of other people) seem a little hung up on the rudeness angle. Some people are saying that they personally find it rude;..."

It is something that I personally find rude and I think manners is the proper context in which to address the issue. In this Ask.Me, I went into a fair amount of detail as to why I think it's rude. Does this mean I'm shaking with rage or telling people to fuck off when they wish me Merry Christmas? Of course not. It's at the same level of people who don't thank waitstaff or interrupt people's conversations.

Nothing Earth-shattering, just a wish for a little more civility in the world.
posted by stet at 12:51 PM on November 30, 2005


Joey Michaels : "She said, 'Do you believe in Jesus Christ?' I said 'I am a Buddhist.' She said 'Buddha is evil' and moved on."

That's why you should respond "I am Jesus Christ." When she calls you the antiChrist, just point out that if she's wrong, she just called the returned Saviour the embodiment of Absolute Evil, and your dad will probably be pissed.
posted by Bugbread at 12:51 PM on November 30, 2005


bugbread, you've nailed it. I find the marketing aspect to be not that important, because in the end, it will be a market decision. Use of Christmas or an alternative will be weighed and whatever term is the most marketable will be used. As I said numerous times, that is the stores' perogative. I don't disagree with it.

I equally don't disagree with the act of boycotting. As I mentioned, Falwell's act is not qualitatively different than the BuyBlue trend which was applauded here on Metafilter. I wouldn't personally support either boycott, nor do I find them to be sensible things to do.

In that regard, I find the boycott issue to less interesting than the issue of whether a particular greeting or sheer mention of a holiday is improper. That issue is not a market issue; it is a sociological issue, and it is infintely more interesting.
posted by dios at 12:53 PM on November 30, 2005


I think it's a sign of the shameful decline in civility at metafilter that it took so many comments for someone to mention festivus. (That's my festivus grievance.)
posted by lodurr at 12:55 PM on November 30, 2005


Once again:
No one is objecting to Wal-Mart or Target marketing Christmas toward Christians. No one is telling Target to tear down thier "Merry Christmas" banner. There are however, people who are offended that Target or Wal-Mart would have the gall to NOT explicitly market towards them at the exclusion of others. In summation why the hub bub about "Happy Hollidays"?
posted by ozomatli at 12:58 PM on November 30, 2005


Or, to say, we want to market this to you based on your religious beliefs, but we don't want to look like we tacitly accept your beliefs because that would be bad.

They want to market to you based on Santa Claus, not Jesus Christ.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:00 PM on November 30, 2005


Ahem,

Or boycott. The American Family Association called Thursday for a Thanksgiving weekend shunning of Target stores, saying the chain was refusing to allow the phrase "Merry Christmas" on in-store promotions and advertising.

"I don't know where they're coming from," Target spokeswoman Carolyn Brookter replied. "We have no such policy on Christmas. You can see it in our stores."

At one local Target, in Colma, most of the in-store advertising offers a generic "Gatherround." One of the few advertising mentions of the C-word is above a Christmas card rack that says, "Celebrate Christmas."

That's not good enough for American Family Association President Tim Wildmon, who wants to see "Merry Christmas" signs displayed prominently "if they expect Christians to come in and buy products during this so-called season."


So it's not as if Target is being especially anti-"Christmas." They have just chosen not to use "Christmas" as a marketing slogan.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:01 PM on November 30, 2005


There are however, people who are offended that Target or Wal-Mart would have the gall to NOT explicitly market towards them at the exclusion of others.
posted by ozomatli at 2:58 PM CST on November 30


So people are planning a boycott? So what? Why does this bother you so much? Do you object to the act of boycotting in general? Did you object to the BuyBlue project? Or do you merely object to the boycott because you disagree with the substance of the views of the people performing the boycott?

You and others seem to demand that this discussion be only about how wrong it is to boycott, but why is that all this issue is about? Why do you need to keep repeating it as if it is the only salient point?
posted by dios at 1:01 PM on November 30, 2005


lodurr : "I think it's a sign of the shameful decline in civility at metafilter that it took so many comments for someone to mention festivus. (That's my festivus grievance.)"

I was first, at 1:03 from the FPP! Yay me!
posted by Bugbread at 1:04 PM on November 30, 2005


In that regard, I find the boycott issue to less interesting than the issue of whether a particular greeting or sheer mention of a holiday is improper. That issue is not a market issue; it is a sociological issue, and it is infintely more interesting.
posted by dios at 2:53 PM CST on November 30 [!]


I agree, but I find the preemptive counter punch to the be interesting part. I would say most reasonble people (left or right) alike would agree that the sheer mention of a greeting is a non issue.
posted by ozomatli at 1:05 PM on November 30, 2005


dios you're getting it backwards again.

To take your '80% speak english' analogy, what is happening would be the equivalent of falwell, falafel man and company demanding that a universally-understood sign be taken down and replaced with one that is only in english.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:05 PM on November 30, 2005


You and others seem to demand that this discussion be only about how wrong it is to boycott, but why is that all this issue is about? Why do you need to keep repeating it as if it is the only salient point?

... um, maybe because that is the only salient point?

You think there's another point to this discussion? Tell us what it is and make a case for its inclusion. I"m not seeing the latter, and I'm very unclear on the former.
posted by lodurr at 1:05 PM on November 30, 2005


dios: In that regard, I find the boycott issue to less interesting than the issue of whether a particular greeting or sheer mention of a holiday is improper. That issue is not a market issue; it is a sociological issue, and it is infintely more interesting.

I think I see more people claiming "happy hollidays" is rude and improper, than people claiming "merry christmas" is rude and improper.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:05 PM on November 30, 2005


As I mentioned, Falwell's act is not qualitatively different than the BuyBlue trend which was applauded here on Metafilter.

Applauded? Perhaps you were looking for the non-exaggeration: "Mentioned a few times, in passing, over twelve months."
posted by Rothko at 1:05 PM on November 30, 2005


ozomatli : "No one is objecting to Wal-Mart or Target marketing Christmas toward Christians. No one is telling Target to tear down thier 'Merry Christmas' banner."

From a read of this thread, I'd have to say I agree with the latter, but not with the former. There are a bunch of folks who seem to be objecting to just that type of marketing. Their objections are just not in the form of organized or mass-media publicised objection.
posted by Bugbread at 1:06 PM on November 30, 2005


Did you object to the BuyBlue project? Or do you merely object to the boycott because you disagree with the substance of the views of the people performing the boycott?

Non sequiturs.
posted by Rothko at 1:09 PM on November 30, 2005


To take your '80% speak english' analogy, what is happening would be the equivalent of falwell, falafel man and company demanding that a universally-understood sign be taken down and replaced with one that is only in english.

That's hilarious.

Progressives should boycott Target because they let fundie nutjobs refuse to dispense emergency contraception at the pharmacy counter.

Fundie nutjobs should boycott Target because they won't display "Merry Christmas" in the store.

English-only bigots should boycott Target because they put up graphics of men and women instead of words on the restroom doors.

Let's all go to Walmart!
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:10 PM on November 30, 2005


Dios, what exactly is the analogy you're drawing between BuyBlue and the Friend or Foe boycott? I hope it's somehtng more substantial than "they're both boycotts".

One is an effort to promote practices, like fair treatment of workers, or sustainable development. The Friend or Foe ... thing ... is about trying to control the words people use to wish one another a happy holiday.
posted by lodurr at 1:13 PM on November 30, 2005


So it's not as if Target is being especially anti-'Christmas.' They have just chosen not to use 'Christmas' as a marketing slogan.

Exactly. They're not anti-Christmas, or anti-Christian; they're pro selling as much crap as they can to as many people as possible, including the 20% of Americans that aren't Christians.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:15 PM on November 30, 2005


lodurr : "You think there's another point to this discussion? Tell us what it is and make a case for its inclusion."

Well, I don't know if it's intended, but there appear to be two central points in the discussion as it stands: whether the boycott is a Good Thing or a Bad Thing, and whether saying "Merry Christmas" is itself a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. I'm far from being as fiscally liberal as Dios, but I agree that people should be able to organize themselves to not support any company that they dislike, for whatever reason. If a bunch of people want to boycott the Men's Wearhouse for using a silly pun spelling of "Warehouse", then, in my opinion, more power to 'em. Dios seems to be of like mind.

I differ from Dios, in that I think there is a potentially interesting topic to be discussed, vis "What do some people think is appropriate use of boycotting tactics, and what do they think is inappropriate", but that discussion seems to have fizzled out in favor of topic 2, which is whether "Merry Christmas" is good or bad. The problem is just that a lot of people are talking about topic 2 as if it were topic 1, but not making the connection explicit (they are connected, but there seems to be little discussion of this connection).

Perhaps the additional point, then (which isn't my own position, so I may state it incorrectly), is that a small segment of the population with strong views about a topic carrying out a boycott is a bad thing when the topic stands to please a larger segment of the population? That is, religious extremists shouldn't boycott a company for doing something that annoys them if it also pleases a greater number of non-religious extremists?
posted by Bugbread at 1:16 PM on November 30, 2005


Did you ever see that episode of Jackass where some guy dresses up in a halloween devil suit and gets his ass kicked every which way because some redneck Xtian thought he was celebrating Satan?

It's my guess that if I announced December the 26th Beelzebub Day, and went around wishing Xtians a Happy Beelzebub's Day, more than just a few of them would be offended. Damn freaks have already got a bee in their bonnet about Halloween. Give them a real day that expressly celebrates the Dark Lord and I suspect they'd be loading up their shotties and killing in His name.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:20 PM on November 30, 2005


This is obviously a ploy by Walmart to attack a competitor during the shopping season. Walmart is the store any free-market-loving christian conservative should be shopping at. "Alternative" stores are the anti-christ.
posted by team lowkey at 1:22 PM on November 30, 2005


PeterMcDermott : "It's my guess that if I announced December the 26th Beelzebub Day, and went around wishing Xtians a Happy Beelzebub's Day, more than just a few of them would be offended."

Well, yeah, but that's a different kettle o' fish, innit? Unless you're saying Christ is the religious embodiment of absolute evil for Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or the like. I'm guessing if you announced the day after Ramadan as Al-Shaitaan Day, and went around wishing Muslims a Happy Al-Shaitaan Day, you'd offend them too.

It's not exactly the fairest analogy.
posted by Bugbread at 1:24 PM on November 30, 2005


So people are planning a boycott? So what? Why does this bother you so much?
I just have an opinion on the matter. To be fair to me however recopying of my previous statements were not done by me.

Do you object to the act of boycotting in general? Did you object to the BuyBlue project?

As a general principle I am against boycotting large organizations because the ones most hurt by it have little say in company policy. I object to the BuyBlue project and find it silly and counter-productive

Or do you merely object to the boycott because you disagree with the substance of the views of the people performing the boycott?

No. If Rev. Lefty Loon called for a boycott against GenericCo because they had Christmas cards I would be just as troubled.

You and others seem to demand that this discussion be only about how wrong it is to boycott, but why is that all this issue is about? Why do you need to keep repeating it as if it is the only salient point?

I have demanded nothing, I repeat what I find interesting just as you have kept repeating the anti-PC issues involved with the post. I find PC anti-PC debates to very tedious and boring, but hey to each his own.

Dios, I debate you with no malice.
posted by ozomatli at 1:24 PM on November 30, 2005


team lowkey : "Walmart is the store any free-market-loving christian conservative should be shopping at."

Silly teammember, everyone knows that free-market-loving christian conservatives shop at CostCo or Sam's. It's makes more fiscal sense to buy at reduced price in bulk.
posted by Bugbread at 1:25 PM on November 30, 2005


Doesn't the threatened action go beyond boycotts to threatened litigation?

Also, well, to be honest, I see a huge difference between the use of "Merry Christmas" by individuals, and the use of "Merry Christmas" by companies and institutions. I think though that it a bit dishonest to say that Fallwell and O'Reilly's attempt to push "Merry Christmas" in the public and commercial sphere as anything to do with expressing pleasant wishes on a holiday season. Instead, I think it has everything to do with thumbing one's nose at 20% of the U.S. population. They want for non-Christians to feel uncomfortable.

But as I pointed out before, some of the most powerful critiques against using "Merry Christmas" in marketing come not from religious minorities, but from Christians who don't want Jesus paired with the CocaCola Santa, the Energizer Bunny and Mario.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:32 PM on November 30, 2005


The problem here is that Target and other retailers have a mix of "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas" messages. The former pisses off asshole Christians like Falwell and O'Reilly, and the latter pisses off asshole atheitsts and other non-Christians, like several of the posters in this thread.
Meanwhile, non-assholes aren't offended by either message.
If they would pick one message and stick to it, they'd piss off half as many people.
posted by rocket88 at 1:35 PM on November 30, 2005


Related story: My fiance's commercial graphics teacher is a nutty fundy who has stated that she will not shop at Target because they are owned by the French and France did not support us in our war in Iraq. She found out the other day that Kohl's has implemented a "Happy Holidays" policy as well, so she decided to make a scene in the store about it while cancelling her credit card with them and moaning of the persecution of Christians. My fiance asked her why we shouldn't include everyone in holiday celebrations, especially those of the Jewish faith because, as he told her, "Jesus was a Jew." She didn't say anything and went into her office to sulk.
posted by chiababe at 1:37 PM on November 30, 2005


It's not the "Christmas" that offends me. It's the "Merry". My personal choice to be moody and despondent is being violated.
posted by squarehead at 1:37 PM on November 30, 2005


What do we have to do to get these people to stop? Take up arms, invade their homes and rape their women? (ugghhhhh) before these paranoid, repulsive self-righteous morons finally leave people the hell alone? I'm willing, who's with me on heading out to invade the nearest Wal Mart and take out their crazed followers?
Let's really damn them to hell for all eternity ! ! !
posted by mk1gti at 1:39 PM on November 30, 2005


bugbread, I'll bite, though I really ought to quit this thread and get work done.

As I said above, BuyBlue is about promoting action through positive reinforcement. They're suggesting that people not endorse or enable companies who don't do things the way they think they ought to. And they provide peopel the means (in principle) to tell whether a company is behaving in a way that one can accept.

I think the "Blue" association was unfortunate. We really don't need more endorsement of superficial symbols of the political divide.

I would be surprised if there weren't conservative equivalents to BuyBlue, and if there are, and to the extent that they worked in a similar way -- i.e., providing information so people could make up their own minds about what to do -- then I think it would be a good thing. More sunlight on what people actually do, and more considered moral action based on that, is probably a good thing for society. As long as it doesn't depress teh economy.

For example, I don't donate to the Salvation Army because I don't want to fund their religious activities. I rationalize belonging to the Y on the grounds that their religious activities are generally limited to a slogan on the wall and renting their facilities to churches. Those are my choices. I don't expect anyone else to buy into them. They are my small votes, my small reinforcements.

What Fallwell and Co. are doing is trying to control how people can think, via how they can talk. It's not about information; it's actually about mystifying information, really. As alluded upstream, they're actually promoting the commercialization of the holiday they claim to cherish. It's rank cynicism, really.
posted by lodurr at 1:41 PM on November 30, 2005


Dios, I debate you with no malice.
posted by ozomatli at 3:24 PM CST on November 30


I agree and appreciate it. I suspect you know from whence my annoyance with repetition comes, and I apologize for any frustration with the repetition I attributed to you.

As for the substance of your last comment: I can appreciate your concern if it is a general opposition to boycotting. I do not share that opposition, and that is why I found the other issue more interesting. Your issue with boycotting in general is a ground for discussion, and I as I said, I would agree it is silly--I just don't oppose the act in general.


I think there is a potentially interesting topic to be discussed, vis "What do some people think is appropriate use of boycotting tactics, and what do they think is inappropriate"
posted by bugbread at 3:16 PM CST on November 30


I am inclined to agree with you in the abstract. However, my guess is that in practice, the issue of whether a particular boycott is appropriate really just ends up in an argument with the substance of the views behind it. If you disagree with viewpoint X, then you aren't likely to find a boycott based on viewpoint X to be appropriate. There is the absolutist position on both sides (I suppose my position on one hand supporting them---although I find them to be silly and largely ineffective---and ozomatli on the other opposing them). But in the middle, I agree there could be an interesting discussion trying to come up with a series metric to define an appropriate boycott vs an inappropriate one. But like I said, I think people are too inclined to make their judgements based on whether they share or oppose certain values/beliefs.
posted by dios at 2:05 PM on November 30, 2005


It's not the "Christmas" that offends me. It's the "Merry". My personal choice to be moody and despondent is being violated.

Marry me.
posted by tkchrist at 2:28 PM on November 30, 2005


Moody me.
posted by Bugbread at 2:29 PM on November 30, 2005


Perhaps I'm looking at this in the wrong way, but wouldn't it make more sense for Christians to be annoyed with companies that use "Merry Christmas" as a marketing mechanism for cheapening their holiday than to threaten boycotts for those that don't?
posted by betty botter at 2:32 PM on November 30, 2005


I nominate january 7th as the offical "Fuck YOU" day.
Sorry mate, it's already been in use for a few years on September 17, my ex thing's birthday.
However if any of you balk at wishing me a "Happy Fuck You Day" I am comfortable with a cheery "Happy Train Wreck Day".
posted by Joeforking at 2:32 PM on November 30, 2005


Lodurr: Thanks for biting. What you post makes sense. The only devil's advocate standpoint that pops to mind is the separation between "doing" and "saying". If, for example, a store were to be blatantly racist, would you oppose a boycott of them, on the principle that what they were doing was merely "saying", and not "doing"?
posted by Bugbread at 2:36 PM on November 30, 2005


betty botter : "wouldn't it make more sense for Christians to be annoyed with companies that use 'Merry Christmas' as a marketing mechanism for cheapening their holiday than to threaten boycotts for those that don't?"

Probably. But I suppose it could be looked at as a double punch: Making December 25th, which they consider Christmas (for better or worse, Gregorian/Julian calendar, historical considerations of when Jesus was actually born, etc. aside), into a holiday of money, and then stealing the name as well. Insult to injury, if you will. I'm not saying that position makes more sense, but that there is at least some sense involved.
posted by Bugbread at 2:40 PM on November 30, 2005


May you all be touched by his noodily appendage.
posted by nlindstrom at 3:30 PM on November 30, 2005


I think that these people have a right to boycott, I don't think that they should be stopped. Still, I am kind of flabberghasted that this is the kind of stuff that initiates strong and united action amoung these people. It's cuch a petty and venial and stupid and trivial and even mean spirited issue to rally around. I'm not even asking; how they can be concerned about this when there are so many more important things to be concerned about? What I'm really thinking is just; how can they be concerned with this?

I'm really puzzled. The anti-abortion I get, the anti-porn, the Teri Shaivo, the gay marraige these things I can at least guess why people have problems with them. With this I'm just baffled I have no idea why they care. I don't get it.
posted by I Foody at 3:39 PM on November 30, 2005


If, for example, a store were to be blatantly racist, would you oppose a boycott of them, on the principle that what they were doing was merely "saying", and not "doing"?

Well, what are they doing that's racist? If you want them to stop doing something that's racist, sure: Organize a boycott.

And I can see where you could argue that there's a logical equivalence, here; I don't think there really is, because the presence of, say, the "n-word", is clearly more objectionable to an objective viewer than the absence of "merry christmas." We have a common perception that certain acts and speech are racist. We could agree that "Merry Christmas, Niggaz" was at least in poor taste, if not egregiously racist. Opening up a special section to sell to black people and labeling it as such -- I think most people would accept that as pretty clearly objectionable.

But only a very small group of people think that "Gather Round" in place of "Merry Christmas" is an active assault on Christianity.
posted by lodurr at 3:43 PM on November 30, 2005


Jesus stole my birthday

Sincerely,
-Mithras.

PS Anybody think that tkchrist and squarehead would have the suckiest wedding reception ever?
posted by Sparx at 3:54 PM on November 30, 2005


Lodurr: Good answer. That makes sense.
posted by Bugbread at 3:56 PM on November 30, 2005


I agree that it is not a substantial attack on their faith, and I personally don't see why they get so upset about it. I have agreed multiple times that it seems silly to me. But I don't think it can be taken out of the broader context: all the talk of banning the Ten Commandments from the public display; taking "Under God" out from the Pledge of Allegiance; the banning of voluntary school prayer; liberalization of social mores; banning of nativity scenes; (I am sure there are other things not coming to mind off the top of my head) and then to add onto it, taking "Christmas" out of the December Holiday season. Now each of these things may make sense to you based your own morality, but to someone else, can we not concede how they might perceive it as an attack on their faith? Without conceding whether the actions are right or wrong, can you concede their perspective?

Is it a war on Christianity? I wouldn't use that term for reasons I stated above. Is it an attack on Christianity? I still wouldn't call it that, but it is closer to being accurate. Is it part of a broader movement to marginalize outward displays of faith? Absolutely.

I'm not arguing against the marginalization or asserting that it is wrong as a matter of moral principles. But I think we can at least admit that there is a basis for their concern about their ability going forward to worship as they are inclined to. Now once you can concede that they might have a basis for concern, it is a little step to conceding the stated justification of their boycott is reasonable from their perspective. Understanding the motivations of a person is not an invitation to excuse their actions; the actions taken have to stand on their own as right or wrong irrespective of the motivations. Here, I think I can understand the motivations and don't see any problem with the action taken. As such, I don't see where we can condemn it. It seems to be a morally neutral act taken on the basis of personal belief (though I wish all personal belief stayed personal; including being so put upon when you encounter the personal beliefs of others).

The resolution is not to put up Christmas signs and to put up racist signs as if they were equivalent acts. Those two aren't equivalent unless you assume that the word Christmas is itself offensive. And it is that assumption which is the whole ball of wax. As I have stated, I don't see how that assumption is advanced.
posted by dios at 4:11 PM on November 30, 2005


I prefer to wish people "Horny Holidays"
posted by Eekacat at 4:16 PM on November 30, 2005


dios : "Is it part of a broader movement to marginalize outward displays of faith? Absolutely. "

Disagreed. I think it's an action, not intended to marginalize outward displays of faith, which happens (coincidentally) to contribute to some other actions which are intended to do that. I don't think that someone who does something which coincidentally contributes to a movement to be part of a movement, any more than a person who decorates their lawn with flagstones is "part" of an effort by the neighborhood psychopath to kill people with a flagstone. It may be contributing, but it's not part of the movement/effort. It's a small difference, but, I believe, important.

dios : "The resolution is not to put up Christmas signs and to put up racist signs as if they were equivalent acts. Those two aren't equivalent unless you assume that the word Christmas is itself offensive."

And, as lodurr puts it, vice versa. Removing the phrase is not equivalent to doing something universally agreed on as offensive, nor is using the phrase. I wasn't trying to say they were equivalent, but was looking at how Lodurr considered the gap between "doing" and "saying". His answer (and yours) were better than my question.
posted by Bugbread at 4:25 PM on November 30, 2005


bugbread: I'm not sure if I understand you point regarding the difference and the flagstone analogy. Outward displays of Christianity are being marginalized. Whether it be for the intent of not offending others or for the intent of removing religious displays for the sake of not having religious displays, the net effect seems the same to me. And, I am quite certain that the result would not be supported by believers irrespective of what the stated intent was.

I guess this is where my problem with your second point. I don't personally find it offensive that Christmas might be taken down, but to someone sensitive to the loss of religious symbols of their faith, I can certainly see how it might be offensive to someone to see it taken down. By saying "I must remove the word Christmas" is a tacit rejection of the propriety of the word. That is, why remove it unless there is something wrong with it? If it was acceptable for decades, and then all of the sudden it is no longer acceptable, there is some negative connotation to the action.

I'm not saying it is wise to take offense to it, nor would I disagree that these people are being over-sensitive and making much ado about nothing. But I can at least concede to them that they may some basis for the desire to boycott stores. At the least, it is not an outrageous action by them.
posted by dios at 4:35 PM on November 30, 2005


bugbread, I'm fixing to leave to go home for the night, but I thought I'd ask your input on the following:

I see six different issues here.
1. Is it reasonable for Christians to be upset by stores choosing to no longer say Merry Christmas?
2. Is it a reasonable response to any perceived offense to boycott the stores?
3. Is there any problem with stores making the decision to use Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas?
4. Is is reasonable to get upset by other people's religious celebrations?
5. Is it rude to make well wishes to other people consistent with celebrations that are part of your own personal beliefs?
6. Is there a "war on Christmas"?
7. Should religious holiday of Christmas be apart of public holiday celebration?

Do you see any other issues? It seems to me that when the issues are broken down like this, it is easier to parse out what the real issue with this is. Which of these do you see to be the "big" issue? I'm not sure I can say. It seems people have different problems with the individual issues, but they seem independent questions to me.

For my part, to #1 I'd say no by my standards, but I can at least understand it from their perspective. To #2, I'd say yes, but I find it silly. To #3, I'd say of course not--that's their market perogative. To #4 I'd say, not as a general rule, but I could be convinced in individual cases based on facts. To #5, I'd say no for reasons I stated above. To #6, I'd say no--that's just needless hyperbole and bastardization of the concept of war. To #7, I can't really answer that in any way beyond personal belief, but I don't see any reason why not--all religious holidays should be permitted into public display.
posted by dios at 4:50 PM on November 30, 2005


Well, this is comment #150.

Has anything been concluded in this thread, yet?
posted by darkstar at 4:56 PM on November 30, 2005


dios: I agree that it is not a substantial attack on their faith, and I personally don't see why they get so upset about it. I have agreed multiple times that it seems silly to me. But I don't think it can be taken out of the broader context: all the talk of banning the Ten Commandments from the public display; taking "Under God" out from the Pledge of Allegiance; the banning of voluntary school prayer; liberalization of social mores; banning of nativity scenes; (I am sure there are other things not coming to mind off the top of my head) and then to add onto it, taking "Christmas" out of the December Holiday season. Now each of these things may make sense to you based your own morality, but to someone else, can we not concede how they might perceive it as an attack on their faith? Without conceding whether the actions are right or wrong, can you concede their perspective?

Certainly, it is almost always the case that a class with privelege will perceive baby steps towards pluralism and equality, basically the idea that the universe does not and probably should not revolve around them, as an attack on their ideology.

I must say that many of my 18th century colonial ancestors who didn't celebrate Christmas, would have thrown a fit at having to say any Pledge to the Flag, much less one that contained the words "under god." It must be remembered that a disagreement about Anglican Book of Prayer triggered the riots that escalated into the Scottish Civil War, and that religious oaths were mandatory if one wanted to attend University or hold public office in Europe.

There is a case of apples and oranges in your list. The 10 Commandments and nativity scenes on the courthouse lawn, the Pledge of Allegiance and teacher-led prayer in school are clear cases of establishment. (In addition, the pledge violates a provision in the body of the constitution prohibiting religious oaths and tests.) The use of "Merry Christmas" in marketing is not, and one of the interesting things about one of the RTFA is that neither of the two people O'Reilly was arguing with object to the use of "Merry Christmas" in marketing.

Is it part of a broader movement to marginalize outward displays of faith? Absolutely.

How are outward displays of faith being marginalized? On my Thanksgiving vacation, I saw shitloads of outward displays of faith on billboards, front yards, and churches. Doing a minor bit of shopping on Friday, I saw Christmas cards and Christmas signs in many businesses. I see people wearing shirts with Christian themes, openly wearing Christian iconography on crosses, and preaching on street corners. I see overwhelming signs of Christian iconography on cars. And at the art museum, there were entire galleries of devotional art. Personal and corporate outward displays of faith are alive and well, it is governmental displays of faith that raise objections, and most of those objections come from people of faith.

Many companies switched to "Happy Holidays" for the same reason that they started putting "Merry Christmas" in their marketing: to make money. My impression is that there are as many Christians who are disgusted at the corporate use of "Merry Christmas" as there are who dislike "Happy Holidays." (And for that matter, I've heard reports from Jewish people that they are baffled at attempts to turn Chanukkah into a Jewish version of Christmas.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:57 PM on November 30, 2005


dios:
1. Is it reasonable for Christians to be upset by stores choosing to no longer say Merry Christmas?

I don't think so. "Merry Christmas" was in many just a marketing gimmick. And the commercialization of Christmas has been a bone of contention for many religious Christians.

2. Is it a reasonable response to any perceived offense to boycott the stores?

I think so. Of course, we can state our disagreement with the reasons for the boycott.

3. Is there any problem with stores making the decision to use Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas?

I don't think so.

4. Is is reasonable to get upset by other people's religious celebrations?

Well, to me this seems like a straw man. I don't know of anybody who has posted offense at religious celebrations such as midnight mass, nativity scenes, or large quantities of Christmas lights on private or church property.

What is irritating, (not upsetting) is when institutions that I participate in accommodate Christian religious holidays but not other religious holidays. I don't care if Marry, Jack and Pete wish me "Merry Christmas" but when the organization I work for does it, (in spite of knowing that many employees and patrons don't celebrate Christmas) I get mildly irritated.

5. Is it rude to make well wishes to other people consistent with celebrations that are part of your own personal beliefs?

As long as it's honest and heartfelt, no.

6. Is there a "war on Christmas"?

*Snork*

7. Should religious holiday of Christmas be apart of public holiday celebration?

"Public" is ambiguous. As long as my tax dollars don't pay for it, I don't care what Christmas traditions are celebrated in public.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:13 PM on November 30, 2005


Actually, I read that people were boycotting Wal-Mart because they had changed to the less potentially offensive "Happy Holidays" from "Merry Christmas". Target was being boycotted because they didn't allow the Salvation Army to ring their bells by their front doors (last year's news, I know).

As for Merry X-Mas, I know some people that get highly offended by the replacement of Christ with an X. I think, to be safe, I'm going to pretend that I'm mute and deaf everytime someone wishes me a Merry Christmas. That'll teach 'em.

As an aside, I really dislike "Season's Greetings" as a greeting. Its vague and stupid because you could say in the middle of the summer and it would be just as appropriate. Then again, there are holidays in the summer to so Happy Holidays is stupid too.
posted by fenriq at 5:23 PM on November 30, 2005


Sigh. You know, saying "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" is just a respectful way of acknowledging that, yes, we have some nice Jewish neighbors who happen to celebrate a holiday around this time of year and we shouldn't just dopily assume everyone in this country is a good clean white Christian. So now, as happened the other day, a small business owner tells me bossily and aggressively to have a MERRY CHRISTMAS! I want to tell them to stick it in their ass.
posted by Toecutter at 5:33 PM on November 30, 2005


Dear Jesus Claus, please bring me a highly suggestible Ms. Jennifer Connelly. Thank you.

My question: Is this sort of fuss now inevitably going to be part of the Christmas season? Will newsrooms and op editors all mark their calendars a few days post Thanksgiving to begin flogging this particular dead reindeer?

As a producer of soundbite-friendly outrage, it would appear to be an endlessly renewable resource. But will that actually translate into R.O.I.? I'm curious.
posted by Haruspex at 5:47 PM on November 30, 2005


As one of the faithful, I find it offensive to hear "Merry Christmas" come out of the same mouth that says "of course, you'll be wanting the extended warranty with that, right?"
posted by klarck at 5:47 PM on November 30, 2005


That's not good enough for American Family Association President Tim Wildmon, who wants to see "Merry Christmas" signs displayed prominently "if they expect Christians to come in and buy products during this so-called season."

And he isn't worried if they offend people who aren't Christian.

"They can walk right by the sign," Wildmon said. "It's a federal holiday. If someone is upset by that, well, they should know that they are living in a predominantly Christian nation."

Where's Wildmon shopping next weekend? "Wal-Mart," he said.

(...) the Catholic Rights League still criticizes Wal-Mart for tellings its employees to say, "Happy holidays."

Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Fogleman said the "Happy holidays" greeting is "more inclusive. With 130 million customers walking through the door and 1.3 million employees, it's safe to say there are a lot of different faiths out there."


So let me see if I have this right. Wal-Mart greets people with "Happy Holidays" which is fine with the American Family Association. Target says "Merry Christmas" but doesn't have enough in-store signs saying "Merry Christmas" and so they are slated for a boycott.

Something smells fishy.

I'm guessing that a Wal-Mart boycott would be received less well by Falwell's group than a boycott of Target. After all, lower prices mean something.

I wonder what would Falwell do about a national chain that was called J.C. Levi's that only decorated the store with Happy Hannakuh signs? Would he demand that Christian dollars only be spent at Christian stores? Would it be all right if J. C. Levi's had really, really low prices?

I would have so much more respect for Falwell if he asked his followers to put Christ back in Christmas by forgoing all gift-giving and decorating entirely and instead spent all the money that would have gone to Bratz dolls and X-Boxes and silk underwear and 15 foot blow-up santas and use it to feed and cloth the poor. But of course that would never happen because he would immediately lose followers, and thus lose power.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:51 PM on November 30, 2005


bah humbug.
posted by carsonb at 7:37 PM on November 30, 2005


It looks as though I'm not too late to say:

Metafilter: Merry Christmas, Niggaz!

At any rate, I hope this "War on Christmas" goes at least a little better than that "War on Drugs" they had a few years ago.
posted by Jon-o at 9:04 PM on November 30, 2005


This just in....House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert has told federal officials that the lighted, decorated tree on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol -- known in recent years as the "Holiday Tree" -- should be renamed the "Capitol Christmas Tree," as it was called until the late 1990s. The Capitol's senior landscape architect confirmed the name switch yesterday for The Washington Times.

And from Boston...The debate boiled over last week when the city's Web site referred to a giant tree erected on Boston Common as a "holiday tree." The Nova Scotia logger who cut down the 48-foot tree for Boston also was indignant. Donnie Hatt said he would not have donated the tree if he had known of the name change.

"I'd have cut it down and put it through the chipper," Mr. Hatt told a Canadian newspaper. "If they decide it should be a holiday tree, I'll tell them to send it back. If it was a holiday tree, you might as well put it up at Easter."
posted by Otis at 9:07 PM on November 30, 2005


I interpret Happy Holidays to include Thanksgiving, Christmas,
Channukah, and New Years. I do not mind adding Kwanzaa, Talk Like a Pirate and CAPS LOCK to the Fall schedule. No month should be without an important day.
I am not crazy about Hallowe'en, especially when it is pronounced Holloween. (The eve of all hollows?)
posted by Cranberry at 11:00 PM on November 30, 2005



posted by caddis at 11:18 PM on November 30, 2005


dios : "I'm not sure if I understand you point regarding the difference and the flagstone analogy. Outward displays of Christianity are being marginalized. Whether it be for the intent of not offending others or for the intent of removing religious displays for the sake of not having religious displays, the net effect seems the same to me."

That is my point: that the effect may be the same, but the intent is not. Your phrasing seemed to indicate that the act was intentional, and that was the only part I was disagreeing with.

dios : "That is, why remove it unless there is something wrong with it?"

I thought we'd covered that (no snark intended with this phrasing): some non-Christians find it offensive. Likewise, some Christians find its removal offensive. Presumably Target has determined that there are more of the former than the latter, so, from a business point of view, having it is more damaging than not having it.

dios : "But I can at least concede to them that they may some basis for the desire to boycott stores. At the least, it is not an outrageous action by them."

We're in agreement about that, sorry if it came off wrong. I think I was just saying that Lodurr's position is also logically consistent, not that I agree with it en toto.

dios : "5. Is it rude to make well wishes to other people consistent with celebrations that are part of your own personal beliefs?"

This is probably where the primary disagreement in this thread stems: You are parsing the situation as making well wishes to others based on your own beliefs. Others are parsing it as those well wishes being presumptive of the religion of the listener. People constantly assuming incorrect things about you can be incredibly grating (I'm from Texas, so I know how it feels for people to constantly assume and presume stuff about me that isn't true), and religious beliefs are deeper than, say, whether one has ridden a horse, so I can see why a Jew that is constantly assumed by everyone to be Christian could go from being annoyed to being offended. Add to that the perceived (true or not) attack on the separation of church and state, the religious and perceived (true or not) dangerous motivations of government leaders, and I can also see why an atheist would be just as offended by the perceived pervasiveness of assumed Christianity.

Sorry about all the "perceived"s up above. I'm not really interested in opening those cans of worms up the determine if they're true or not, just that, as some people perceive them as true, and their actions are based on their perceptions, the trueness of those perceptions isn't what's important in determining whether their being offended is logically consistent.

fenriq : "As an aside, I really dislike 'Season's Greetings' as a greeting. Its vague and stupid because you could say in the middle of the summer and it would be just as appropriate."

That's what I like about it. You can say "Season's Greetings" any damn time you feel like it, and never be wrong.

Unless the earth's axis turns perpendicular, but then we have bigger problems.

Toecutter : "So now, as happened the other day, a small business owner tells me bossily and aggressively to have a MERRY CHRISTMAS! I want to tell them to stick it in their ass."

Just wish them a Happy Hannukah back. Much more effective.
posted by Bugbread at 5:29 AM on December 1, 2005


dios: is not a substantial attack on their faith...

Dios, it's not even a substantive attack on the faith. It's only an "attack on their faith" in a paranoid or sociopathically-prescriptive mindset. Some of your examples highlight this: "Removal" of "under god" from the Pledge is a restoration of hte pledge to an earlier, accepted form; nobody is saying that the declogue or nativity scenes need to be removed from public spaces, only from government spaces. These actions are intentionally misread by people like Falwell and OReilly to look like a war, when what they really are is a protection of the polis from religious prescriptivism. (Aside: I don't really see how anyone can take O'Reilly or Falwell at his word anymore; Wildmon I'll reserve on because I know less about him.)

At first blush, I thought it was confusing the issue to parse it out farther. But your point #3 helps to make clear [thanks, s...l...gravy] that the boycott itself is disingenuous at best, and in a really charitable reading most likely amounts to picking a weaker Target than WalMart.

I'm thinking the child of someone at Target must have said something mean to one of Wildmon's nieces or something. It certainly couldn't have anything to do with large corporate donations from Walmart or any corporate stock that Falwell or Wildmon might own....
posted by lodurr at 5:41 AM on December 1, 2005


Also, let's be clear: "Outward displays of christianity" may be getting marginalized in some areas, but it's more than made up for by the massive increase in christian display in other areas. Consider that "display" is very var from being the exclusive province of retail business -- it's the most basic thing that people do in interactions with one another. But just looking at commercial enterprise: Country music, for example, as noted above, is one mainstream business example. Look at network programming around the holidays and compare it to ten, fifteen, and twenty years ago: I'd bet you money that if you tally up the "Christmas Specials", you'll find that the number, and probably even the proportion, with overtly christian themes has increased.

And fundamentalist christians are becoming much more aggressive overall about displaying their christian symbolism. If individual people respond to them, it's a response to the aggressive display. Because, after all, one important subtext of that display is "you're damned and I'm saved." The problem that activist fundamentalists a la Wildmon et al have is that the display isn't fervent enough. It doesn't go far enough.

Also, you may be right (and fwiw I think you are) that there's a general change ("decline") in mores. (We'd probably disagree over what parts of it constitute a "decline" and which parts are better just understood as "change.") That's not at all inconsistent with an increase in explicitly christian prescriptivism. Not even in the same person. The world is full of "hookers for Jesus" and guys who pray their hearts out while stuffing the collection plate with grubby strip-club dollar bills. The general term I use for the trend is "neo-puritanism" (which I borrowed from somebody here, and I can't remember who).
posted by lodurr at 5:56 AM on December 1, 2005


Has anything been concluded in this thread, yet?

Interesting question. Do you think there should have been?

It reminds me of some of my fiance's literature students, who are always looking for a class concensus on the meaning of a text....
posted by lodurr at 6:03 AM on December 1, 2005


Has anything been concluded in this thread, yet?

Yep. We've concluded which issues contribute to the disagreement, and which are ancillary.

More importantly for me is that I've gotten a good insight into why Lodurr and Dios think what they do. MeFi is full of people who will tell you forcibly what they think, but it's far rarer to find out why they think what they think.
posted by Bugbread at 6:09 AM on December 1, 2005


[bemusement /]

OK, so why do I think what I think? And what do I think, for that matter?

You don't have to answer that, by the way... in fact, please don't -- I really ought to be billing and I might feel compelled to answer, instead.
posted by lodurr at 6:16 AM on December 1, 2005


Dios wrote: "But I don't think it can be taken out of the broader context: ... taking "Under God" out from the Pledge of Allegiance"

Not to derail, but that was added to the pledge in 1954 at the same time that they took out the word "equality" from the pledge. I prefer the version of the pledge that existed for the majority of the history of the US.

In many ways, Dios, the Christian argument that there is an assault against Christianity is really that there is a pushback against the erosion of the church/state wall that started in the communist witch hunts of the 1950s.

I actually think about that quite a bit (I'm sad that way): who would have thought that we'd still be debating things that were added as part of the dark time in American history that was the communist witch hunts? What elements of this current "dark time" will get left behind when the pendulum turns, and will people think those elements have been around "since the founding fathers"?
posted by bclark at 6:44 AM on December 1, 2005


lodurr : "OK, so why do I think what I think? And what do I think, for that matter?"

Er...well, you put it all pretty well up above...I could quote you on it, but it would probably be easier for you to reread what you wrote.

I don't mean "I know the deep reasons behind why Lodurr believes everything". I only know what you said. But if you compare these two discussions, you'll hopefully see what I was trying to say:

-Typical Mefi Conversation 1-
Alice: I think A.
Bob: What the fuck? Why? It's obviously B. What makes you think A?
Alice: C'mon, it's obvious. You just think B because you're an idiot.
Carol: That's what's wrong with folks who like A. They just use ad hominems to support their position.
Bob: Yeah. B is obviously true, because A is false, and B is the opposite of A.
Alice: That doesn't make any sense.
Dave: Yeah. Why can't you folks who support B make a cogent argument?

At end of day, we all know that Alice and Dave really really think A, and Bob and Carol really really think B, and they're very very convinced, and the people who oppose them are very dumb, and are incapable of making decent arguments, and are trolls, and that their beliefs are selfobvious.

-Atypical Mefi Conversation 2-
Alice: I think A.
Bob: What? Why? It seems like B is obviously true.
Alice: Well, I think A because of C, D, and E.
Bob: Ah. Well, I agree with C and D, but I don't think E is the case.
Carol: And F, G, and H are why I believe B.

At the end of the day, we know not only who believes A and who believes B, but their reasons behind it, and where the disagreement falls.

So that's all I was saying. I'm not claiming special insight into your mind, just that, unlike many conversations, this one has resulted in people explaining not only what they believe, but their basic reasoning that led to that conclusion.

lodurr : "You don't have to answer that, by the way... in fact, please don't -- I really ought to be billing and I might feel compelled to answer, instead."

Too late, sucker! (Billing? Are you a lawyer, per chance?)
posted by Bugbread at 7:13 AM on December 1, 2005


No, just a 1099. It's complicated. Even though I work for the corporate office of a staffing company, I have to bill by proxy through a third party because they can't hire their own contractors for internal work. Marvelously messed up company, but they're paying me, so...
posted by lodurr at 7:16 AM on December 1, 2005


I've marked this in my journal as the Second year of the battle over Christmas. Here in Raleigh, there is one particular church, the Church of the Upper Room, that has been fanning the flames by taking out a full page ad around Thanksgiving adjuring all good Christians to patronize stores wishing a "Merry Christmas."

This year their ad went the Patriotic route. As they explain in great detail in their ad, Christmas is an American holiday. So to wish everyone a "Merry Christmas" is both patriotic and traditional.

The ad is somewhat spoiled by the fine print at the bottom which declares "96% of all Americans celebrate Christmas, 4% celebrate Hanukah, 2% celebrate Kwanzaa."

I have two problems with the hidden subtext of those figures: 1) We don't ignore minorities in this country just because they are in a minority and 2) While I would respond affirmatively to a poll asking if I celebrate Christmas, I am neither a Christian nor a person who would take offense at being wished Happy Holidays.

Additionally, last night my husband had occasion to discuss the ad with one of the members of the church and he asked the question I posed above, "What would you do if you walked into a store that wished you a Happy Hanukah?" Her answer, "I would turn around and walk out." I hate to bring race into it, but the lady in question (as well as most members of her congregation) are black. I realize we are dealing with two different issues, race vs. religion, but in this case the lines are blurred and I can't help feeling that the lady in question would be indignant if I proposed not shopping at a store because the owner was black.

Hell. Maybe I will limit myself to shopping at stores owned and operated by satanists. That'll cut down on my Christmas purchases!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:00 AM on December 1, 2005


Well, everyone knows that Procter & Gamble is run by satanists. Soap makes an excellent gift.
posted by Otis at 8:19 AM on December 1, 2005


holidays = holy days
What's so evil about that falafel Bill?

To answer a question above, the holy day for FSM adherents is Talk Like a Pirate Day.
posted by nofundy at 9:03 AM on December 1, 2005


How about this for a compromise:

Christians will stop wishing everyone a "Merry Christmas" during the winter holiday.

Athiests will stop using the words god, hell, damn, jesus and christ when they hit their thumb with a hammer.

Deal?
posted by feersum endjinn at 10:30 AM on December 1, 2005


feersum endjinn : "Athiests will stop using the words god, hell, damn, jesus and christ when they hit their thumb with a hammer."

Also, "goodbye".
posted by Bugbread at 10:32 AM on December 1, 2005


(Er, use of "goodbye" in general, not use of "goodbye" when they hit their thumb with a hammer.)
posted by Bugbread at 10:32 AM on December 1, 2005


Ellis Henican voice of Stormy Waters on TV's Sealab 2021. booyat.
posted by clunkyrobot at 11:17 AM on December 1, 2005


When I was a copyeditor, I used to infuriate the writers by insisting that they hyphenate good-bye. God be with ye!
posted by mrgrimm at 4:35 PM on December 1, 2005


If I were a copy editor, I'd probably insist on spelling it "Good-b'ye".

Which is probably why I'm not a copy editor.
posted by Bugbread at 6:15 AM on December 2, 2005


"96% of all Americans celebrate Christmas, 4% celebrate Hanukah, 2% celebrate Kwanzaa."
I have two problems with the hidden subtext of those figures...


And one of those problems isn't that their figures add up to 102% ?

posted by Jon-o at 9:27 AM on December 2, 2005


Jon-o : "And one of those problems isn't that their figures add up to 102% ?"

Nope. Probably 96% of Americans celebrate Christmas, and 96% celebrate New Years. That adds up to 192%, and there's nothing wrong there either. You're assuming that if a person celebrates one of those three, they don't celebrate any of the others.
posted by Bugbread at 9:34 AM on December 2, 2005


oh. duh.
posted by Jon-o at 10:39 AM on December 2, 2005


Don't worry, it happens.
posted by Bugbread at 10:47 AM on December 2, 2005


Christians will stop wishing everyone a "Merry Christmas" during the winter holiday.

Athiests will stop using the words god, hell, damn, jesus and christ when they hit their thumb with a hammer.

Deal?



Then I think Christians should have to give up Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:57 PM on December 2, 2005


Maybe we could change their names to "Norseday", "Norseday 2", and "Norseday The Revenge"? You know, like "Happy Holidays", still indicating the background, but not so specifically.
posted by Bugbread at 2:59 PM on December 2, 2005


Upper Room Church of God in Christ (Sorry, I had the name wrong before) and Rev. Patrick Wooden made the front page of the Raleigh News & Observer today. The Rev. Wooden was invited to speak on "The O'Reilly Factor." The Rev. is quoted:

"As a Christian minister, I see the attempt to de-Christianize Christmas as part of a much more sinister plan to de-Chrisitanize America."

(If you click on the church's web page you can read a welcoming letter that is signed "Patrick and Pamela Wooden, Pastor & 1st Lady" which is the first I've heard of a minister's wife being called a First Lady.)

The ad that I mentioned earlier which equated saying "Merry Christmas" with being patriotic ("Christmas is as American as Mom's Apple Pie and the Fourth of July") was part of a print and radio campaign that cost $11,000.

The church is only one of 49 Wake County churches that have formed the coalition Called2Action. Their chairman, Steve Noble, said:

"For a Christian not to say 'Merry Christmas' because they are affraid of offending someone is a major problem. If you never catch any flak for your faith, I have to question what you are doing with your faith."

There is a religious war going on in America right now, but it isn't the Christians who are being persecuted, it is the Muslims. As soon as thousands of Christians are rounded up and thrown in jail for no reason, then they can cry "Persecution."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:24 AM on December 3, 2005


..."Norseday", "Norseday 2", and "Norseday The Revenge"?

Hey, let's face it, the whole week is screwed: Tuesday belongs to Tiw, the Gallic incarnation of the germanic war-god, and Saturday belongs to either the Roman Saturn or the Roman-era Italian god Saetere (who I'm told is kind of a Pan-like character), depending on who you ask. That leaves Sun-day and Moon-day, which sound suspiciously pagan to me.

I think we should rename the all after the Seven Sisters.
RADCLIFFE: Come to Radcliffe and meet Harvard men.
WELLESLEY: Or come to Wellesley and marry them.
MOUNT HOLYOKE (slurring, champagne glass in hand): No. Party with me! (Falls face first.)
VASSAR: Or nonconform with me! (Raises arms, reveals hairy armpits.)
LISA: Uh . . .
SMITH (muscular, carries lacrosse stick, husky voice): Play lacrosse with me!
BRYN MAWR: Or explore with me! (She and SMITH kiss with passion.)
LISA: No, I don't want to pay for college by throwing a spelling bee!
SISTERS (in unison): Give in, Lisa! Get a free ride!
PLIMPTON: And a hot plate!
SISTERS (holding hands and dancing in a circle around Lisa): Free ride! Free ride! Free ride!
PLIMPTON: And a hot plate!
(LISA wakes up screaming.)
posted by lodurr at 9:08 AM on December 3, 2005


Has anything been concluded in this thread, yet?

Interesting question. Do you think there should have been?

It reminds me of some of my fiance's literature students, who are always looking for a class concensus on the meaning of a text....

posted by lodurr



Well, you know. After 150 comments in yet another thread which combines the salutary topics of both politics AND religion, I thought it was fair to skip to the end and ask, a little tongue in cheek, whether there had been any real resolution or illumination to the debate, as opposed to having yet another orchestration of tensions on these matters.

I mean, for shame, sir! Your response wasn't even droll. If you're going to make a dismissive swipe at someone's critical abilities, you might at least distract us from its perniciousness by your engaging wit. Otherwise, your condescending and dismissive response, so defensive and wan, gains you little credit.

I mean, really.
posted by darkstar at 4:41 PM on December 6, 2005


this is as far as we've gotton:


posted by carsonb at 5:14 PM on December 6, 2005


Now THAT is more LIKE it!

Good show, carsonb!
posted by darkstar at 5:29 PM on December 6, 2005


The best part is that it's based on a scan of a Boy Scout certificate of some kind.

darkstar, I know you're disappointed. But didn't you even consider my Seven Sisters proposal?
posted by lodurr at 5:37 PM on December 6, 2005


Mea culpa! I confess that I didn't notice that was you that posted that, lodurr.

And right above my post, too! Oh, the ignominy.

I retract my comments and heartily hoist a toast to you and the upcoming Brynmawrday festivities!
posted by darkstar at 6:12 PM on December 6, 2005


All Hail Carsonb!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by caddis at 6:48 PM on December 6, 2005


A second point in carsonb's favor: he is a friend of Phocion.
posted by darkstar at 7:29 PM on December 6, 2005


O'Reilly Holiday ornament
posted by mrgrimm at 1:25 PM on December 9, 2005


We have tortured an elf.
posted by Otis at 7:31 AM on December 13, 2005


bwahahaha! why can't funny people be on the news all the time? that's the kind of shit I wanna hear about.
posted by carsonb at 11:13 AM on December 13, 2005


WASHINGTON -- Saying Christmas is under attack, Virginia Rep. Jo Ann Davis sought passage Wednesday night of a resolution expressing support for "the symbols and traditions of Christmas."
posted by Otis at 6:50 AM on December 16, 2005


Not to be outdone....

A Jewish congressman introduced a resolution to protect the symbols of Chanukah, Kwanzaa and Ramadan. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) planned to introduce his resolution Thursday evening to counter another resolution, introduced earlier by Rep. Jo Ann Davis.
posted by Otis at 7:06 AM on December 16, 2005


The Religious Right's Phony 'War on Christmas': Mything in Action
posted by Otis at 8:17 AM on December 21, 2005


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