Oh, no — more hysteria over Christmas from Bill O’Reilly, joined now by Gretchen Carlson, the blinkered bigot host of some other Fox program. The dialog is hilariously stupid.
Billo blows it early, claiming that Christmas marks “the birth of Jesus Christ, which is what the holiday is based on”, which is simply not true. Midwinter festivals have a long history predating Christianity, and Christianity simply coopted this one, right down to the date and many of the pagan traditions that go with it. The name is taken from Christianity, but so what?
Then the two begin a duet of historical revisionism. Carlson is upset because public spaces contain a multitude of different displays, and she complains that her children won’t be able to see “the thing I was able to see growing up”, which seems to be a complete lack of diversity — the only displays she remembers seeing as a child were entirely Christian, and to her this is a good thing.
Billo claims “there was no controversy over Christmas … everybody said Merry Christmas”, again as if this were a good thing, and completely ignoring that this controversy is one he invented. Yes, people said “Merry Christmas”, and they also said “Happy Holidays”…and we still do. Even atheists.
I like Carlson’s next suggestion, made while completely oblivious to what she is saying: “People can have their right to free speech, just don’t pick December 25th to do it”. Right. You can speak freely, except on 25 December, and, ummm, the days around Christmas, which nowadays spans the period from shortly before Halloween to sometime around New Year’s Day. And Easter is off limits, too. And St Crispin’s Day. And Shrove Tuesday. And Pentecost Sunday. Oh, and the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus…
Oh, OK — you get 3 hours of free speech on the second Tuesday in July, at 2am, as long as you don’t say it anywhere outside of your house. And only if you have a house — no poor people.
Billo makes a prediction: “They’re going to try to revoke the federal holiday … you can’t have a federal holiday based on religion”. The first part is wrong, the second part is right. You can’t have the state endorsing a religious holiday. However, atheists aren’t at all interested in revoking our midwinter holiday, and I haven’t heard of anyone lobbying to get the day off the calendar. We also have a clear-cut court decision from the federal judicial system, Ganulin v. United States. O’Reilly is going to be pained to learn this, but legally, he isn’t getting Christmas off because he’s a Christian. It’s a secular holiday in the US.
Courts have repeatedly recognized that the Christmas holiday has become largely secularized. …By giving federal employees a paid vacation day on Christmas, the government is doing no more than recognizing the cultural significance of the holiday.