Wednesday, December 28, 2005

They Doth Protest Too Much

Apparently, we are supposed to be arming ourselves in the war on christmas because school districts and towns everywhere are banning the wearing of christmas colors, santa, christmas trees, and the use of red-and-green decorative motifs as a protest against the true meaning of christmas. The post office is no longer making religious stamps (not!) and at any moment, the so-called elimination of christmas may lead to the downfall of civilization. Oh, the horror, the horror! I really don't see how affiliating yourself with red-and-green, santa, rampant consumerism, and the whole pagan-tree decorating thing has anything to do with the religious observation of christmas, but being an atheist, perhaps I'm just not privy to the secrets.

At any rate, talk radio has been flogging this issue with ecstatic zeal. Methinks they doth protest too much.
O'REILLY: In Plano, Texas, just north of Dallas, the school told students they couldn't wear red and green because they were Christmas colors. That's flat-out fascism. If I were a student in Plano, I'd be a walking Christmas tree after that order. Have a little thing on my head.(From the December 9 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor)
He notes a similar thing on the radio show, with some added self-righteous hand-wringing.
O'REILLY: Plano, Texas, north of Dallas. Students were told they could not wear red and green because they were Christmas colors. Let me repeat that. Plano, Texas. Students can't wear clothing that have red or green colors because they were too close to Christmas colors. Can you believe this? This is fascism. In addition, it'd be grossly disrespectful. (From the December 9 broadcast of Westwood One's nationally syndicated The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:)
And, even better? He posed the same story about Saginaw, MI as well.

Well, it appears he's making stuff up, in an attempt to stir up a furor over this bogus 'war on christmas'. The rebuttal from the school district is here. Yes, the Plano school district was embroiled in lawsuits last year (2004) regarding their refusal to allow a student to hand out gifts with a religious message (candycane pens, I believe). This hoo-ha about red-and-green napkins stems from a request by the school that parents bring white napkins and paper plates to the school Winter party. Apparently, requesting white ones is "banning" red and green. We of course must immediately decide that this is anti-christian, the request for white table accoutrements.

The best part? This appears to have happened in 2001. O'Reilly claims to "have the memo", but no one has seen it. Does it say "no red and green because this is a holiday party?" as accused by several religous sites and Fox news? No one knows. (Please, let me know if someone has actually seen the text). Is there any mention of the fact that this controvery is already a few years old? No. How is this relevant today? It's not, unless you are trying to forward your political agenda, I think. No one banned any colors of napkins or plates. No one banned any color of clothing. I think the school went overboard if they banned a religious-themed gift, but I cannot find if it was a personal gift or a party-favor type thing. In either case, this appears to be an isolated issue of 'political correctness' gone too far, and don't we have bigger things to worry about?

What I found amazing, however, is that there are dozens of sites on the web that have picked up this "story" and are reporting is as fact. Most of them are religious sites, or right-leaning sites, which is to be expected, but very few of them bothered to report the retraction that came out about three weeks later, admitting that the banning of "christmas colors" and other imagery was not true. Once again, I think the media is counting on the fact that this will push conservative/religious buttons and people won't actually follow up on the story.
Now, I made a mistake a few days ago when I said clothing was included in that party dictum. Clothing was not included. It was colors of plates and cupcakes and things like that. (From the December 20 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor)
A mistake. Hm. Either O'Reilly is lying, or he isn't bothering to give these news tips an even cursory fact checking. If he can't be bothered to fact check this, why should I assume he fact-checks anything else? A caller claimed that she was told that non-secular postage stamps are not sold any more. Suddenly, this is 'true', even though a two-second look at the postal service web site shows that they are available.I should call his show with some ridiculous claims and see how long it takes my heated fantasy life to take over the airwaves. That seems to be how it works. It could be fun to try.

This is getting tiring. Some other commentary:

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