Saturday, December 19, 2009

Enough of the PC BS! (And, Merry Xmas)

And for once, I'm not referring to Personal Computers running Windoze!

This is the time of year when my (admitedly small) tolerance for political correctness is pushed past its bursting point. Just about anyone who says anything about this time of year (at least here in North America) refers to it as "the holidays", because they're worried they might offend others by referring to it by its proper name. For most people, its called Christmas, so call it Christmas!

Now, before I get accused of any religious bias or be called out for pushing my Christian views on the world, let me get one thing absolutely clear: I am an atheist, so I have no Christian views to push! (Anyone who does even a little research that Christmas was originally a pegan festival.) The point of my rant is this: call this time of year whatever is the correct thing for your beliefs; if you're a Jew, Hanukkah is obviously the correct term, and so on.

If someone wishes me a happy Hanukkah am I going to be offended? Absolutely not, for I will take it in the spirit in which it was meant. Why would I be offended by somone wishing me well?

Political correctness was invented to avoid offending people. Well guess what, nothing offends me more than political correctness! So call this time of year its correct name, and don't wimp out by calling it the holidays! Call it Christmas or Hanukkah, or anything else; anything but the holidays!

For me, this time of year is about peace on earth and goodwill to all men. So allow me to wish my readers a very merry Christmas, and a happy new year! I hope that you will be spending time with your loved ones and sparing a thought or two for those less fortunate. Peace...


At 19/12/09 18:27, Blogger npmccallum said...

I agree with you whole-heartedly. One minor quibble however. Having studied the history of liturgics (including Christian festal cycles) at the graduate level, the evidence that the Christian holiday is a derivative of the pagan holiday of the same period is far from conclusive. Not that it matters to me (or should matter to anyone) either way. This just happens to be one of my pet peeves (when people underestimate the complexity of the development of religious practice). But I guess such is the difficulty of only doing a "little research," its hard to keep up to date on what the accepted scholars in the field are saying. In short, there is no academic consensus on this issue (in fact, most of the arguments for a correlation are merely a form of post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy).

But anyway, I agree with you. Sorry for the snarky comment. :)

At 19/12/09 19:21, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome, and well-said, Rich!

Merry Christmas to you, and happy Solaris'ing over the holidays, and 2010!

At 20/12/09 00:37, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merry holidays to you too (I don't have christian, jewish, muslim or buddist celebrations).


At 20/12/09 06:00, Blogger Theo said...

The whole argument is awkward. you assume I deliver a wish of Happy Holidays to not offend (anyone who knows me knows I cherish being politically incorrect). I just enjoy the time of the year, which I call "The Holidays" (lasting from about American Thanksgiving to ~ Jan 3rd.

So, Happy Holidays Rich! And take in the spirit in which it is delivered -- sincere well wishes for the season.

At 20/12/09 08:08, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that what strikes you and some of your readers as common sense strikes others -- meaning me and other advocates so-called 'pc' -- as denial. Labeling some public discourse as 'PC' has become a means to discredit discussion about the nature of our multi-cultural society and who is going to define names. At the base of anti-'pc' rests the argument that old white guys define how we are going to know and understand others in this society, not the contributions of the many, many fellow citizens in our multi-cultural society.

In Charlotte this week we've been in the midst of 'pc' moment. During a discussion of granting same-sex couples county benefits one of the commissioners whispered to his colleague that he didn't know that her deceased son was 'homo.' She was offended, I was offended, most of my 'homo' associates were offended. For us this 'pc' moment wasn't about anything less than just simple respect and politeness. The term 'homo' is offensive, repulsive and wrapped with all of the paraphernalia of hate and social bullying that has little place in a society that respects all of its people.

'PC' is about civil discourse. Civil discourse is about how we treat our fellow citizens. If we are not careful with our language -- and disparage those who are trying to moderate the use of hurtful language -- we risk hurting our neighbors.

For many reasons I hate Christmas. I am Christian and will attend Christmas Mass. But no, I will not have a merry Christmas, so don't lecture me about what Christmas means. My point is that you're trying to force your belief system onto my holiday. Every single American can enjoy having a day off, a couple of days off, a few weeks of festivity, to spend with the family or with their books studying or hanging out with the pets or whatever. I'm not going to take off time for Christmas but I am going to do all of the above and if you'd quit trying to twist my arm to celebrate something I don't want to celebrate then maybe I might have a good time.

So, no anger, cursing, let's try for a bit of civil discourse.

So as Elvis said let's have a little Peace, love and understanding.

At 20/12/09 11:24, Blogger Rich Teer said...

Now we get to one of the cruxes of the matter, and that is this: words are not offensive, it is the meaning behind them that can be offensive. If people want civil discourse (and why wouldn't they?), I think they can take is to not look for offence where none was intended.

For example, I live in Canada but I'm originally from the UK. And I'm balding and a bit overweight. I'm a great target for potentially offensive language, but instead I choose to believe that no offence was meant. After all, if offence was actually intended, people need to come up with better words than "slaphead", "fat boy", "limey" or "Canuck". :-)

I call things as I see 'em, and rarely do I intend offence. I don't play word games to avoid using the offensive word de jure.

Perhaps I don't have a problem with all this because I see everyone as equals. I don't care what colour a persons skin is, or their religious beliefs, or from what country they are. People are individuals and I treat them as such. For example, plenty of my friends are black. I wouldn't think to call them "African-American" (a stupid label if there ever was one, IMHO!) for one second: they're neither African nor American. I don't see how describing a person by the colour of their skin is in itself offensive. But more to the point: I don't care what colour their skin is! They are good, friendly people, and that's all that matters to me!

At 20/12/09 11:44, Blogger Rich Teer said...

Allow me to address one other point specifically: how can the term "homo", without context, be offensive? Assuming the person in question was indeed gay, how can the correct contraction of the term "homosexual" be offensive? Would the mother of the deceased or your associates been any less offended if the term "homosexual" been used in that conversation? (As an aside: I am hetrosexual, but I have gay friends and I support same-sex marriages. But I suspect that a topic for another post!)

Should people from Britain be offended if they're referred to as Brits? What about Australians (Aussies), Canadians (Canucks), or New Zealanders (Kiwis)?

Again, it's the intent behind a word that is offensive, not the word itself. There's a great scene from an episode of Star Trek (between Kirk, Uhura, and Abe Lincoln) which illustrates my point perfectly. I'll try to dig it out if there's sufficient interest...

At 21/12/09 01:11, Blogger Simon said...

Nice one, r!ch. Good to see that you haven't mellowed in your old age (he he).

At 23/12/09 06:37, Anonymous Brian Leonard said...

Great. I was worried I'd have to start wishing folks "Happy Holidays" on St. Patrick's Day.

At 26/12/09 02:47, Blogger klon-immor[t]al said...

I absolutely agree with you, Rich. I'm an atheist and I don't get offended by somebody wishing me merry Christmas or saying "God be with you" instead of "Farewell". I know they mean well. And since Vilnius/Wilno is mostly monoreligious (Lithuanian nazi collaborators massacred most of the Jews in Ponary during the war, so sadly nobody celebrates Hanukkah in here), I gladly wish everybody around merry Christmas (including my atheist friends — we don't mean celebrating Christmas, and not "holidays"), without offending them or becoming less of an atheist.


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