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Subject: [IP] more on Talking Points: The So-Called War on Christmas - New York Times

  • From: David Farber <dave@farber.net>
  • To: ip@v2.listbox.com
  • Date: Sat, 17 Dec 2005 11:32:20 -0500



Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <Bob2-19-0501@bobf.frankston.com>
Date: December 16, 2005 7:19:58 PM EST
To: dave@farber.net, ip@v2.listbox.com
Subject: RE: [IP] Talking Points: The So-Called War on Christmas - New York Times


A recent comic strip of this genre made the mindset even more clear when it said that we should recognize other cultures and call greet them using the names of their holidays so why not Merry Christmas.



And such people vote &#x2026;



Living in the Northeast it&#x2019;s hard to understand people who aren&#x2019;t aware that not everyone in the US is a Christian. But then I remember a relative visiting from Jerusalem who didn&#x2019;t now what an atheist is &#x2013; even though there are many, perhaps a majority of secular Jews, in Israel.



No wonder we need ala carte cable TV &#x2013; can&#x2019;t risk letting people know other cultures exist in this country. Better to have a way to make sure that they are blocked by the cable companies because having parents put a filter on their own TVs would require too much technical expertise.



The fact that companies are not already providing such blocking should be an indicator of marketplace indifference. But that won&#x2019;t stop those who are on a moral crusade. OK &#x2013; maybe I&#x2019;m getting too sarcastic but how does one respond when tiny minority fears get projected into national priorities? Where a small letter writing (I mistyped it as righting &#x2013; Freudian?) campaign is multiplied into $500,000 for using a four letter word for &#x201C;act of congress.&#x201D;



Is blocking channels an effective strategy anyway rather than focusing on particular content? There was an attempt to put rating markers on web pages but the problems became apparently very quickly and the idea was dropped as simply not being feasible. Even the V- Chip allows for finer grained control though I&#x2019;d be surprised if it were used very much.



It&#x2019;s not about price since there is little direct relationship between cost and price. It&#x2019;s more about more reasons to protect against the Internet which allows and even requires people to make their own choices.



There seems to be a tendency for those who hold to &#x201C;values&#x201D; to fear threats from others as if the values were so fragile that they couldn&#x2019;t survive on their own. The idea that our social systems are too fragile to allow other ideas to even be discussed. The triumph of democratic economies over tightly controlled ones should be a strong endorsement for survival of the resilient but instead we try to protect freedom by spying on everyone. No wonder it&#x2019;s so difficult for people to accept an evolutionary process based on survival of that which survives. Such a model would require accepting that they might not have the only answer.



From: David Farber [mailto:dave@farber.net]
Sent: Friday, December 16, 2005 18:43
To: ip@v2.listbox.com
Subject: [IP] Talking Points: The So-Called War on Christmas - New York Times






http://select.nytimes.com/2005/12/14/opinion/ 14talkingpoints.main.html?pagewanted=all





Summary



His Fox News colleague, John Gibson, declares in his new book &quot;The War on Christmas&quot; that there is a &quot;liberal plot&quot; to destroy Christmas, led by &quot;professional atheists&quot; and &quot;Christian haters.&quot;



...When the American Family Association launched its boycott of Target stores, which it has recently dropped, it published a statement on its Web site denouncing &quot;Target's anti-Christmas stance&quot; based on the department store's alleged unwillingness to use the phrase &quot;Merry Christmas&quot; in its advertising.



...Religious conservatives are using Christmas for a political purpose: as a cudgel to push the prayers and displays of their own form of Christianity into public spaces, including public schools, and to make America more like a theocracy.



...Department stores have been using phrases like &quot;Happy Holidays&quot; and &quot;Season's Greetings&quot; because they want to make themselves appealing to as many customers as possible &#x2014; including the nearly one- quarter of Americans who do not call themselves Christians &#x2014; not because they hate Christmas. Governments walk a careful line regarding holidays because they don't want to fall afoul of the First Amendment, and because they want to make all of their constituents feel included in holiday celebrations.



...Mr. O'Reilly collected small incidents around the country in which communities tried to be inclusive &#x2014; such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to call the tree that he lit in Rockefeller Center a &quot;holiday tree&quot; rather than a &quot;Christmas tree&quot; and Federated Department Stores's increasing use of &quot;Happy Holidays&quot; rather than &quot;Merry Christmas&quot; in its stores, which include Macy's and Bloomingdale's.



...The American Family Association released a bulletin asking its members to contact Target, Sears, Lowe's, Office Max, Kmart, Staples, Home Depot and Kohl's and &quot;let them know you are offended by their anti-Christian and anti-Christmas bias.&quot;



...Mr. Gibson has jumped in with his new book, which &#x2014; by his own account &#x2014; &quot;unveils the coordinated work of American Civil Liberties Union lawyers, professional atheists, and Christian haters who have taken the war on Christmas to your front door.&quot;



...The American Family Association reports on its Web site that &quot;Target refuses to use the word 'Christmas' in any of their corporate advertising,&quot; and that it produced a 36-page ad insert that used the phrase &quot;holiday&quot; 31 times.



...Wal-Mart, for example, gave in this year on a very minor point, changing the way the search engine on Walmart.com treats the word &quot;Christmas,&quot; but made clear that it would not change its policy of having employees say &quot;Happy Holidays&quot; rather than &quot;Merry Christmas.&quot;



...For the most part, Mr. Gibson's book is a dull recitation of run- of-the-mill examples of government officials trying to live up to the Supreme Court's decisions on the First Amendment's establishment clause precedents.



...It is impossible to know whose account is true, but even if the school's account is correct, it does not seem unreasonable for Ms. Cohen to be disturbed that her kindergarten-aged daughter's principal is calling in a pastor from his church to dress up as Santa and talk about Jesus.



...The New York Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation &#x2014; the same company that owns Fox News &#x2014; recently put a story on its front page under the headline &quot;Treeson&quot; about a Jewish town supervisor from Long Island who tried to keep Christian prayers out of a government-sponsored tree-lighting ceremony.



...There is a simple explanation for the increasing use of phrases like &quot;Happy Holidays&quot; &#x2014; but it is not one that the Christmas &quot;defenders&quot; want to talk about.

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