Thursday, November 23, 2006

"Merry Christmas" versus "Happy Holidays" Revisited

One of the best explanations I've run across for the whole "Christmas versus Holiday" brouhaha comes from -- of all places -- FireRescue Magazine. Author Nick Brunacini (whom I suspect may be related to Phoenix Fire Chief and fire service legend Alan Brunacini) writes:

Christmas is right around the corner. If this year brings the same “what are we supposed to call the holiday” confusion as last year, let me make a suggestion: Quit whining about the big retailers renaming “Christmas” to “Holiday” and get over it. These companies are in business to sell you stuff, and they’ll eliminate anything they perceive as getting in the way of the bottom line.

Brunacini, in discussing the "... politically correct homogenization overtaking us...", which, he points out, "... is obscuring our sense of perspective" goes on to say:

To be heard in today’s world, one must be a zealot, a criminal or an idiot. It doesn’t matter which side of an issue you take, as long as it is fundamentally fanatical and in direct opposition to the group of lunatics living on the polar opposite side. As a result, much of center mass of our civilization is forced to hide behind the skirt of political correctness in an attempt to avoid drawing the wrath of the xenophobes currently in charge.

I think Brunacini hits the nail right on the head here.

Some more quotes from his piece:

  • I suppose intolerance is a family-learned trait that doesn’t discriminate based on skin color, gender or sexual preference.
  • As a culture, we spend an inordinate amount of our time and energy being offended by inconsequential BS.
  • Perhaps he [618: the Battalion Chief faced with a discrimination complaint over a petty matter of lemonade and Kool-Aid] was thinking to himself, “My God! The inhumanity of man against man,” or maybe it was more along the lines of, “You’ve got to be kidding me—these morons called me for this?”

While these paragraphs appear in the middle of the piece, I believe they sum up his argument rather nicely:

Most of us go out of our way to get along with others. The reason for this is pretty simple—you’ve got to go along to get along. When we allow people their differences, they allow us ours. This is the glue that holds society together. In the close-knit quarters of fire departments, the leeway we allow one another becomes the ultimate factor in how good a place it is to work.
Fire departments that strive to make everyone the same end up with very large volumes of rules and regulations that pertain to personal conduct. These same places almost always come equipped with large personnel divisions that are kept busy with investigations, enforcement and dealing with the avalanche of lawsuits that stems from trying to make everyone the same. I am not advocating total anarchy, merely suggesting that the few rules we do maintain be developed around what we do for a living, with some of the U.S. Constitution thrown in for good measure. A rule that says we will come to a complete stop at a negative right-away makes a lot of sense. We are a public safety response agency and shouldn’t kill the motoring public as part of our standard response.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could apply the same logic outside of fire departments?

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