Posts Tagged “appeal to tradition”

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree ShoppingIt’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and already this is my third post in this year’s edition of the annual delusional “war on Christmas.” A school in Arkansas planned a field trip to see a live performance of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The problem is, it was going to be in a church. KARK-TV in Little Rock reports on this attempt to trot public-school kids into a church so they can be proselytized (WebCite cached article):

A longtime holiday show, beloved by children, inadvertently sparked a controversy in Little Rock over the separation of church and state.

It happened when some teachers at Terry Elementary school sent letters home offering to shuttle first and second graders to see a stage version of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at Agape, a local church.

“We’re not saying anything bad about Charlie Brown,” said Anne Orsi, a Little Rock Attorney and Vice President of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers.

“The problem is that it’s got religious content and it’s being performed in a religious venue and that doesn’t just blur the line between church and state, it over steps it entirely.”

As is typical of such cases, the church used the old “We’ve always done it, so we should always be able to do it, forevermore!” defense:

Some of Agape staffers did say they have held holiday productions for students in the past and no one raised concerns about those shows.

Sorry but no. As I blogged previously — and repeatedly — that Christianists have been getting away with this kind of crap, doesn’t actually make it acceptable. It just means they managed to get away with it. Note that, usually, this kind of defense doesn’t work in other venues. For instance, someone caught for speeding can’t respond with, “But officer, I’ve always driven that fast down this road! I’ve been doing it for years! You can’t give me a ticket, now! You must let me continue speeding!” It just doesn’t work … and the Christianists who use these appeals to tradition damned well know it.

The article contains the station’s video report, that I can’t embed here, but it mentions an important aspect of cases like this: The fact that kids and parents who object to this sort of thing often go along with it anyway, out of fear their kids will be harassed if they choose not to. That’s how Christianists have been getting away with it for as long as they have; they use bullying tactics against anyone who dares not knuckle under to their religiosity. That’s not to their credit, and I’m fairly sure their own Jesus wouldn’t approve of it. Yet they do it nevertheless.

Christians, just fucking grow the hell up and stop using Christmas to ram your Jesus down everybody’s throats … OK? Is that too much to ask of you?

Full disclosure: I’m of the generation that grew up watching A Charlie Brown Christmas annually. I still find it amusing, its religious content notwithstanding. Nevertheless, it’s unacceptable to present to kids in public school, and taking them to a church to see it just makes the situation all the worse.

Photo credit: From A Charlie Brown Christmas / KIT, via Flickr.

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It’s December 1, and already I’m up to 4 postings in the 2009 edition of the annual “war on Christmas” theme. This time, what’s in question is a “Merry Christmas” sign on a firehouse in North Andover, MA. WHDH-7 News out of Boston, tells the story:

Town officials in North Andover have put an end to some long-time holiday traditions causing some controversy among many local groups.

Some say it is sign of the times, but others are accusing the town of acting like Scrooge.

There used to be a Merry Christmas sign hanging on the North Andover Fire Department, but town officials told the firefighters to take it down ending the decades-long holiday custom.

The story of how this decades-long tradition came to an end, is a familiar one which has played out elsewhere, and usually with the same irrational results:

The controversy started when town selectmen told a local rabbi place he could not put a menorah on North Andover Town Common for all eight days of Hanukkah.

The town’s policy only allows displays to stay on the common for one day.

I say this is “irrational” because — well — it is! The town could easily have modified its “policy,” put the menorah up for the holiday and left the “Merry Christmas” in place … but no, that never occurred to them. Instead they chose to stir up the hornets’ nest of the annual “Christmas wars” by putting the kibosh on all such displays.

That said, I note that the only defense for this sign on the firehouse, is “tradition”:

“It’s just a part of the tradition,” said Chief William Martineau, of the North Andover Fire Department. “We have put that up there for many, many years. It has to be close to 40, 50 years.”

Sorry, but that something is “traditional” or has been done for “many, many years,” does not make it right. It was, for example, “traditional” — for thousands of years! — to believe the earth was at the center of the universe. Despite literally ages of “tradition” that told humanity this, we have found out that it’s not true. Appeals to tradition are fallacious.

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