Sunday, December 22, 2013

You Might Be Worried about Phil but He Isn't Worried About You

Well, I guess I have to write my obligatory article about all the hoo-hah surrounding an article in GQ Magazine in which Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Duck Dynasty clan, was interviewed. Sounds like Ole Phil stirred some shit and made a lot of people upset to the point of A&E suspending him. I really don't care very much. My world will go on just fine, with or without Phil Robertson.

Incidentally, here's a link in case you want to see for yourself what all the uproar was about - Duck Dynasty.

I will say, this has absolutely nothing to do with the First Amendment which has never protected us from repercussions by our employer should they believe we are tarnishing their brand as many athletes, television anchors, actors and others have discovered that to their dismay. It is worse for celebrities because they get so much attention. It is part of the downside for all that money and fame. But if you think it can't happen to you, go out and say something that puts your employer's business at risk and see what happens to you.

It also has nothing to do with religious freedom. Phil has a right to say what he thinks; gays have a right to react to what he said. It's a two-way street.

My takeaway from all of this is to wonder why in the world so many poor or near-poor people are so intensely concerned about rich people. We went through this back during the Paula Deen fiasco. Oh, my God, people on Facebook howled about what they characterized as Paula's unfair mistreatment. They signed petitions; they sent her messages of support; some of them sent her donations!

A lot of these folks probably wonder how they are going to make the house payment every month. It is a budgetary crisis when the car needs new tires but what are they worried about? Poor Paula's bank balance dropping from $100 million to only $50 million. Oh, the unbearable pain of it!

And now we have Phil and the same scenario. The Duck Dynasty family is rich, people, and they will continue to be rich whether they stay with the show or leave it. They were rich even before they became television stars. They don't really need us to boo-hoo over Phil's supposed victimization.

Conservative politics seems to have taught many of us that money equals value. We are worth as much as we have in our Cayman Island tax shelter. Our top one percent are the top one percent precisely because God approves of them more and so that means we should reward them more too. Bigger tax breaks, more subsidies. Hey, there, Mitt Romney up on your pedestal!

We cry and whine over Paula and Phil Robertson and yawn when Congress cuts food stamps and unemployment benefits because you know, those people wouldn't be in the position to need them if they'd just get off their lazy asses and go to work. And if their kids suffer right along with them, well, they should have thought of that.

Why is it, do you suppose, that we shrug off the serious problems of the poor and working class (to which most of us belong) while becoming obsessed about Paula Deen and Phil Robertson who, trust me, will be just fine without us. And that's a fact, Jack.    

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Nazis

I've never been much of a Christmas person to start with. I never got off on putting up Christmas trees or decorating the house with Christmas wreathes and candles and salt and pepper shakers and place mats. I didn't especially like shopping and I hated wrapping. 

One thing I did enjoy though was sending out Christmas cards.....that is before the Christmas Nazis took over and ruined it.

I always preferred boxes of mixed cards, rather than all of one kind, because that way I could mix and match the sentiment to the person I was sending the card to. I had religious friends so I chose for them the ones of the Wise Men. I had Jewish friends so I made sure to pick out a generic Happy Holidays card for them. My animal-loving friends got the precious pictures of kitties and puppies in front of the holiday bedecked fireplace. I gave a lot of thought to who would get the peace dove, the beautiful country scene, the old-fashioned Victorian one.

And I always wrote short letters in all of them. Some people I saw all the time but Christmas is the season for telling people how much you care for them. I enjoyed letting co-workers know how much I appreciated spending my working days with them. I liked connecting with cousins or far-away friends with whom I wasn't in frequent contact.

It never occurred to me that I might be inadvertently offending people to whom I thought I was simply sending affectionate regards and best wishes. I never realized that some people probably snarled when they received my Seasons Greetings or Happy Holidays card because it didn't say Merry Christmas instead.

And, oh, my God, I frequently shortened Christmas to Xmas in my many letters! I had no clue that this was anathema to the truly devout.

I  honestly never considered that Christmas cards and greetings could be a source of resentment instead of pleasure.

In fact, I never really thought that any one religion "owned" Christmas. I didn't dream that the holiday came with rules and regulations that had to pass their muster to be valid. Of course, I knew it had special connotations for Christians but I thought the all-encompassing holiday had expanded to include everyone who wanted to share the beauty of its larger meaning, that of peace on earth, good will to all.

Santa and elves are not particularly religious. Neither are snowmen and bells and decorated trees and plowing over your neighbor at the mall to get a $2 waffle iron.

And now we are in fight about what color Santa is and once again, the fundamentalist breed of Christian assumes their right to dictate. Santa is white....end of story. He's ours and we ain't sharing.

And Jesus has been brought into this ethnic battle as well although Jesus was a Semitic Jew and the chances are that the little blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jesus that you see in the manger on your Christmas card isn't true at all.

Anyway, the right-wing Christmas police have made it all so ugly, I quit sending cards although I think it is sad that this holiday should deteriorate into a time of division and hard feelings, the exact opposite of what it is meant to be.

To those of you who appreciate the spirit behind holiday greetings however they are couched - Seasons Greetings, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, Heartfelt Hanukkah and Felicitous Festivus.