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Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

At any time of year, it bears repeating.

I’m going to go eat too much and be happy with my family and stuff now. Merry Christmas.

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…at least he’s waging the war on Christmas as much as you’d expect from any good fundamentalist communist secularist Muslim.

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– I’m going to be way better at being married than this Christian couple who’ve written a whole book about it.

– Anyone remember Christmas With A Capital C, that godawful-looking movie which was being trailed about this time last year, and seemed to be just another outlet for fantasist Christian whining about anti-Christmas oppression? Apparently both the writer and director had a much more thoughtful approach, and it really shows in the finished film. Huh.

– Don’t throw the cat in the furnace… Don’t throw the cat in the furnace… Oh god is he going to throw the cat in the furnace? Oh thank fuck. That was creepily tense.

– And that’s it. I’ll be off for at least a day. Happy Christmas. Or, as we atheists say: Happy Christmas. (Thanks to Robin Ince for that line.) See you soon.

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– A translation of the faux-controversial phrase “Merry Christmas”: “I am offering you good will in a way I know how“.

This is a very unsettling article about the not-too-distant future, and I profoundly hope it proves to be accurate.

– Good to see Obama’s not slacking off at all after winning that Nobel Peace Prize.

– Hairy comedy music god Tim Minchin wrote and performed a new song about Jesus for the Jonathan Ross show recently. It wasn’t included when the show aired. Whether or not the reason for this, as is widely suspected, was due to some ITV exec’s utterly pifflesome and bollocksful fears about offending religious people is not entirely clear. But it’s a cracking song. And you can watch it here.

 

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Owen Jones writes about social contempt and the continued demonisation of the poor, and a sad proportion of the comments bring out the same old rationalisations about how the chavs and scroungers they love to hate aren’t really that badly off.

– Somewhere in Europe, a government realised that their policy of drug criminalisation was making things worse, and actually did something about it based on the evidence. Blimey.

– Does Richard Dawkins want to have his Christmas pudding and eat it too? Nelson Jones is a consistently excellent writer, but although he no doubt has a point here, I’m not sure what he thinks we should be doing about it. It’s possible indeed that the aggressively religious aspects of Christmas are given power, at least in part, by the enjoyably secularised cultural aspects. But I don’t see this as an argument in favour of embracing the religiosity (which I realise isn’t being suggested), or of abandoning the idea of having a nice sing-song about a manger and a star.

No, Glenn Beck, nobody needs to “set up” Michele Bachmann to look like “a homophobe or whatever”. She does that herself just fine. If accusing her of being bigoted is “the nuclear bomb of politics”, Michele Bachmann is Major Kong.

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Rick Perry’s not interesting, and I’d hoped and assumed he was pretty much done after the “oops” flub, where his own policies on shutting down government departments didn’t hold his attention enough for him to recall them during a debate. It wouldn’t be fair to annihilate his prospects based on something as human as momentary aphasia, but I wouldn’t have particularly mourned the injustice in this case.

But he seems to still be around, and there’s at least one weapon in his political arsenal which he hadn’t fully deployed until this week. Namely: being unbelievably whiny.

Here’s what he says in a recent, reassuringly low-budget campaign video:

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.

As President, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion. And I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.

Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.

I’m Rick Perry and I approve this message.

The internet’s been having some fun with this one. I particularly like Lord Perrymort.

The Christian persecution complex that comes through when people say things like this deserves all the mockery it gets, given that Christians have consistently comprised upwards of 70% of the US population, including every president the country’s had for centuries.

Obama’s “war on religion” is something they cry about when he mentions being “blessed” in his Thanksgiving speech, but doesn’t give the Christian god a personal shout-out. Never mind the amount of time Obama and his family tend to spend hanging around Christmas trees at this time of year, or with various other denominationally festive business. He’s still not doing enough to make the privileged majority feel special.

Perry can’t even cite a single non-imaginary example of this supposed war being waged. He complains about the things his kids aren’t allowed to openly do, but it’s complete nonsense.

And there’s some homophobic bigotry thrown into the mix too. Gays serving openly in the military is something to be, at best, grudgingly put up with, but it’s still evidence of what’s wrong with this country that we can’t have some more good old religious repression to keep them in their place.

He followed this performance up in a later interview, where he said nothing of any real originality or value, and Wolf Blitzer pointed out a number of pertinent objections without ever making it obvious that he thinks Perry’s an idiot.

Why are our children not allowed to pray in school? Why can they not celebrate Christmas?

They are, and they can, and it’s pathetic how far out of their way everyone else has to go in appeasing and making room for you before you’ll stop whining about unfair treatment.

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About fourteen years ago, a Birmingham councillor was trying to find a way to market the various Christmas events going on in the city centre over the holiday period, and came up with the word “Winterval”.

Since then, certain tabloids haven’t shut up about the idea that Winterval was an attempt by the politically correct lefty brigade to ban Christmas.

By “certain tabloids”, I mean above all the Daily Mail, which has averaged more than three repetitions of this falsehood every single year since 1998 – but many other papers, including respectable broadsheets, have racked up comparable frequencies of reprinting the same rubbish.

Now, though, the Mail has printed three sentences in their Clarifications and corrections section, so everything’s been sorted out.

Except, even if the subject of Winterval is now as unambiguously settled and resolved as anyone could hope it to be, this still isn’t the most satisfying way to draw the saga to a close. Dozens of misleading and hyperbolic articles, over the course of more than a decade, have been offset by a couple of column inches. I find it unlikely that the cumulative effect they’ve had will be significantly reversed by this latest development.

Of course, I don’t want to be too harsh on the Mail for acknowledging and correcting a mistake, even if it was overdue and under-emphasised. But it’s evident how little the problem has been solved when you look at the bulk of their side of the general media conversation.

A couple of months ago, blogger Kevin Arscott pointed out to Melanie Phillips that she was repeating a long-debunked myth in her Daily Mail column. She wrote back, describing his message as being “as arrogant and ignorant as it is offensive”, and reasserted her baseless claim that the use of the seasonal marketing term Winterval was part of an effort to avoid referring to Christmas at all (even though the official descriptions of Winterval always directly referred to Christmas several times).

“Winterval buried ‘Christmas’ and replaced it in the public mind”, she wrote, which of course explains why you’ve barely heard mention of Christmas this century, outside the columns of a few intrepid tabloid journalists fighting to bring you the truth, amidst all the politically right-on Winterval talk going around.

In Melanie’s next email to Kevin, she made vague and entirely inane threats of suing him for libel.

Previous attempts to complain to the PCC about the repeated untruths being printed in this popular national paper had been unsuccessful. But the Mail’s recent decision to clarify and correct their position implies that they’re now siding with Kevin, at least on his basic point – the claim that Christmas was “renamed in various places” was, in fact, misleading and incorrect, despite Melanie’s initial objections. He’s waiting for an apology.

Oh, and the headline of the Melanie Phillips article from September, which now carries a correction as to the nature of Winterval, was: Our language is being hijacked by the Left to muzzle rational debate.

This is how successfully the tabloid media’s ability to self-regulate is currently working.

So yeah, it still kinda sticks in my craw.

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While I was offline for a month, I kept a note of any links and news stories worth commenting on. Now that I’m back, I’m aiming to post two short items a day here, about stuff that happened during my online absence, until I’ve cleared the backlog. This is one of those.


If you’re new to the godless community, there’s two things you should know about atheists.

They love to party.

And they love Christmas.

Okay, bit of blanket generalisation there. But the Atheist Vuvuzela Marching Band joined in with a Christmas parade recently in Texas, to play festive Christmas songs on their chosen “instruments” and join in with the fun.

Sounds like a good time. But at least one person had to be a cunt about it.

“Wasn’t exactly happy about the Christmas Parade this year, I spent many years teaching my children to love and respect other people and to love the fact that they were children of God and I don’t feel that they should be influenced in any other way especially not at a Christmas parade,” said Tina Corgey, who is a lifelong Bryan resident.

For fuck’s sake.

I’m going to try and get through the rest of this without calling anyone a cunt again. Don’t hold your breath.

This is so much bullshit on so many levels I don’t know where to start.

If you look at what this band were doing, there was not a single objectionable thing about it. They were joining in, and celebrating Christmas. They didn’t do anything to denigrate or offend anybody or anything.

What this… What Ms Corgey claims to be offended by is the very fact that they were there at all. She didn’t even want the atheists to be allowed to share a street with her and her Christian friends.

The logical extension of which is that she wants the right to tell anyone who’s different from her to just stay indoors and out of her sight whenever it suits her.

“If you have younger children they weren’t going to understand but I have older children, a teenager, 8-year-old and they were curious and they asked questions and it was hard for them to believe and understand that there are actually people out there that don’t believe in God,” Corgey said.

This woman thinks her children will find it hard to get their head around the fact that I believe what I believe.

And, although we don’t know for sure if her kids really are as dumb as she is, she thinks that I should shut up and never express myself publicly, just so that I don’t confuse anyone.

They find it hard to understand that sometimes other people are different? Well then, as the Friendly Atheist was too polite to say, FUCKING TEACH THEM.

THEY’RE YOUR CHILDREN. FUCKING TEACH THEM SOMETHING.

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.

Do your children also find it hard to understand that there are people out there who produce different amounts of melanin, resulting in a variety of types of skin pigment? Do you want all black people to stay off your street and keep out of sight too, for your children’s imagined comfort?

You know, this is what all those idiots who complain about gay people “shoving it down my throat” are really getting at. Even the simple fact that gay people exist is more than they think they should have to face, so they treat it like something’s being forced upon them. For anyone different to so flagrantly and undeniably be is enough to cause offense.

And frankly, if she’s preventing her kids from acquiring any kind of understanding of the world they’re living in, to that extent, it sounds to me like borderline child abuse.

She doesn’t want them to be “influenced in any other way” than what she’s brought them up to know. They’re learning that having their ideas challenged is an unacceptable thing, and that if they even hear any alternative viewpoint being expressed, the people with that viewpoint should shut up. Because their worldview is so fragile that it’s apparently in danger of shattering if it so much as meets a different opinion.

Not that I have any plans to have children, but I emphatically would NOT want them raised unquestioningly and fanatically godless. But if I did want that, then maybe we shouldn’t even have a Christmas parade, so that they wouldn’t have to be influenced in any other way by noticing that some people believe something else. Why do your kids deserve this kind of protection any more than mine?

And she’s spent years teaching them “to love and respect other people”? That’s a joke. She’s been teaching them that the very existence of other people is an unacceptable abomination, unless those other people are the same as them. That’s not love, and it’s not respect.

Yeah, this one made me pretty angry.

Hat-tips to Hemant, PZ, and Ed Brayton.

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While I was offline for a month, I kept a note of any links and news stories worth commenting on. Now that I’m back, I’m aiming to post two short items a day here, about stuff that happened during my online absence, until I’ve cleared the backlog. This is one of those.


Someday I’ll put together a proper analysis of just how empty this War on Christmas business really is. Maybe next year.

But it seems that these days, even before the snow’s had a chance to demolish the entire infrastructure of the south of England, and before atheists have even started popping up to point out that actually Jesus is still made up even on his birthday, the cries of outraged Christian persecution and woe swamp all discussion of this season of joy and goodwill.

Most atheists I know enjoy Christmas. Most Christians I know are fine with that and don’t much care how I want to spend the holidays one way or another. But some people will loudly insist that if anyone else doesn’t do things their way, it’s oppressive and unfair.

Maybe the USA is home to a lot more Hindu fundamentalists than we thought, but I rather suspect this is all just about that branch of conservative Christians making a fuss over nothing.

vjack puts it succinctly:

When I say “happy holidays,” I am being offensive to my Christian neighbors. When they say “merry Christmas,” even if they know I am an atheist, I am supposed to smile and return the greeting. It does not matter how insensitive it might be.

Personally, all my religious friends are happy to be wished a Jovial Hannukwanzaamas, but this is genuinely how some people seem to think. Other people having a different name for something means they’re trying to censor you.

Mind you, I’m all for atheists (and anyone else who wants to) celebrating Christmas as the cultural event that it is, without getting weighed down by its Christian baggage (just like most Christians don’t worry over its pagan origins now). Mitch Benn’s perfect explanation of this point was one of the highlights of 2010’s 9 Lessons and Carols for Godless People:

If only Christians get to use the word “Christmas”, then only Vikings get to use the word “Thursday”.

Some folks in America play the “Christian nation” card around this point, and claim that anyone living in the country should abide by the traditions of its heritage.

The thing is, this amounts to saying that there’s something in your country’s laws or culture that exalts and respects Christian tradition specifically, above all others.

That is the opposite of being persecuted. You can’t have it both ways.

Anyway. Christmas is great; don’t let it be ruined by people who like it almost as much as shouting at anyone who doesn’t. That’s my holiday message.

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Ho ho ho

Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan.

Blogging will return next week. I hope you’re all having a lovely time.

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