Saturday, December 17, 2005

On metaphors and Christmas

Remember after 9/11, when various pundits chided themselves over and again for their callous insertion of militaristic terminology into the everyday vernacular? No more war metaphors when discussing political disputes, or football games, for that matter. That was the company line.

Which dissolved within a matter of months, just as irony made its comeback. (Take that, Graydon Carter!) Now we're told, mainly by authors of books on the subject, that there is a war on Christmas.

I'll agree, to an extent. Political correctness seems to have finally overwhelmed the culture, and it's good to see the citizenry respond against societal speech codes. However, the biggest purveyors of sensitizing cordialness are those dreaded big corporations. Why do they have their greeters say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas?" Because that's the least likely to offend non-Christian fellow consumers who shop there, not that many gave a damn.

Now that Christians are offended, these large corporations don't know want to do, stuck in the same kind of moral volley the Ford Motor Co. currently finds itself in. (Ford caved into religious right protests about advertisiting in queer publications, then caved again when barraged by gay activists. Maybe Ford should've responded: Who gives a fuck? It's just advertising!)

So the department stores dither. It is "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays?" Could "Season's Greetings" make a comeback, via compromise? Meanwhile, the James Dobsons of the world sense a moneymaking opportunity when they see one.

It's familiar line: Christians are being persecuted. No, Christians in China are being persecuted. Christians in America are just not getting their way.

Of course, the larger problem, the commercialization of Christmas, is totally lost. Not that it was ever an issue with the Dobsons of the world. How can you run a commerical enterprise and decry commercialism?

Then again, hypocrisy never stood in their way.

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