Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Winnipeg Sun takes page from Bill O'Reilly

Well, I'm sure some of you fine readers of The Winnipeg RAG Review follow the tragic farce known as US politics. If you do, then you'll probably know of one man - Bill O'Reilly - who wheels and deals in moral panic and false outrage. That man is a shameless opportunist who works for the United State's greatest TV RAG Machine - Fox "News".

One of Bill O'Reilly's many temper tantrums was over some big department stores choosing to greet their customers "happy holidays" rather than "merry Christmas". HOW OUTRAGEOUS!  OH THE HUMANITY! I mean, I know some people are starving to death, but that pales in comparison to the indignity of being greeted "happy holidays" and having to use your imagination to fill in which holiday applies to you.

In the end, as with many shameless peddlers in moral outrage, it turned out that O'Reilly was less than true to his "principles".

 Fox "News", incidentally,  serves as a role model* for Canada's network of daily RAGs - the Sun Media dailies, which the Winnipeg Sun is a part of. The stuff Fox "News" spews, generally, is too toxic for Canada, so Sun Media has to tone it down a bit - focusing more on economic policy and less on culture war BS quite alien to the relatively reasonable country of Canada.

But it looks like the Winnipeg Sun's gone beyond the point of no return this year. They've imported panic over "happy holidays" to the True North!   

Browsing the Winnipeg Sun website, a video heading that caught my eye:

Poll says most Manitobans celebrate Christmas (there's a print version here).

Wow, just wow. The Sun hack who did that "journalism" was Ross Romaniuk. 

This pressing social issue that Romaniuk just absolutely had to comment on was how, while some organizations use "happy holidays" to be more inclusive, that's somehow refuted because 92% of Canadians celebrate Christmas and 76% say "merry Christmas" rather than "happy holidays", regardless of what those nefariously "politically correct" folks say.

On the surface, that's a pretty dumb (insinuated) refutation, as there's still an 8% of Canadians who you're potentially being inclusive to by saying "happy holidays" and, because people celebrate Christmas doesn't mean that's the only winter holiday they celebrate.

To add some bulk to his insubstantial report, Romaniuk then interviews Tom Hay (whose at the Christmas Cheer Board during the interview), who agrees with the Sun's (heavily implied) position.

Winnipeg resident Tom Hay, however, said Christmas is a lot more “than just a holiday” that might fall on other dates of the year.

“If they want it just as a holiday,” Hay said of those who want to diminish Christmas, “they should just put it on the calendar as a civic holiday, other than as a special day — which it is.”
 I really have no idea what the hell the relevance of this quote is to anything, but I'll just let 'er go.

Then Romaniuk interviews Kai Madsen, the executive director of the Winnipeg Christmas Cheer Board (a charity that works at making Christmas a reality for poorer families -started by Winnipeg Churches in 1919, the same year as Winnipeg's General Strike): 

Madsen recalls former Manitoba premier Gary Doer, while in office several years ago, renaming a legislature Christmas tree as a so-called “holiday” tree.

“I had an opportunity one time to discuss it with him and chastised him severely,” he said. “And since then, to my understanding, it’s been called a Christmas tree — just like it should be.”

Madsen suggested he’s not surprised at the results of the online survey, which polled more than 1,000 people from Dec. 2 to Dec. 4. He said that though political correctness had obstructed Christmas greetings, decorations and celebrations to a greater extent about a decade ago, that sort of thing has not been nearly as common since Canada returned to common sense.

You know, for someone who runs a Christmas-focused charity, Madsen certainly displays quite a bit of pettiness and not enough generosity here. I mean, who f*cking cares if they call it a holiday tree? Is it really such a bloody indignity for you to mentally fill in the blanks for your preferred holiday (Christmas, Yule, or the Solstice being the three I can think of that'd be applicable - although there probably aren't that many Germanic Neo-Pagans in Manitoba who'd celebrate Yule).

It's amazing, personally, how the article also seems to ignore the fact that a lot of generic"holiday" references occur earlier than the exact time or exact week of Christmas. You know, at the time when there's other holidays that some people are plausibly celebrating instead of (or in addition to) Christmas.

Honestly, if you were a charitable director and had access to the Premier of Manitoba, would whining about the name given to a decorated tree on government property really be high on that list? I mean, what kind of person does that?!

According to a new Abacus Data survey, 92% of Canadians celebrate Christmas. And in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 93% of the citizenry celebrates the Dec. 25 holiday.

Ninety-three is a wonderful number. Now all we have to do is work for 99,” Kai Madsen, executive director of Winnipeg’s Christmas Cheer Board, said Tuesday of the poll’s findings. “I’d like to say thank you to all the people in Winnipeg, of course, and merry Christmas — and I mean merry Christmas.”

Oh. That kind of person.

Well, 'tis the season to be generous. So, I'd just like to show my best wishes to Romaniuk and Madsen with this lovely button.

*The other role model being, of course, the UK Sun paper, which is owned by the same man who owns Fox "News" (Rupert Murdoch).

Postscript: The Toronto Sun has proven that not all Sun dailies stoop to the same level all the time. It's coverage of the poll is a lot more thoughtful, substantiative, and meaningful - talking both about the relatively secular history and secular present of Christmas, as well as the effects of the global financial crisis on giving this time of year. It certainly is a "civic holiday" rather than something of "special observance".

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