If You Get Angry When Someone Says “Happy Holidays” Instead of “Merry Christmas,” You’re Probably Just Being An Asshole

It’s December, which means the manufactured controversy over the fictional “War on Christmas” is now back in full swing.  Over the past few days I’ve heard from several different people upset because someone they came across had the audacity to say “happy holidays” to them instead of “Merry Christmas,” as they would have preferred.  Normally I just roll my eyes or snicker to myself when someone gets offended over something so trivial, but a Facebook post I saw recently from one of my friends kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

He’s an author whose name isn’t really important because this post is not meant to be an attack on him as much as it is simply expressing disappointment with how people like him behave.  You see, he hates political correctness and, when some poor bastard wished him happy holidays recently, he felt the need to correct them.

xmas outrage
Let’s examine this post line by line, from my own secular perspective, because it really is typical of the “War on Christmas” crowd I hear so much from:

Someone wished me “happy holidays” today.

Well, right away, you can tell this person is just a dick.  Happy holidays?  I mean, what kind of a shitty thing is that to say to someone?  /sarcasm

They got all bent out of shape when I said it’s not “happy holidays.” It’s “Merry Christmas.”

Maybe they got “bent out of shape” because they were just trying to be nice, and you were going out of your way to be a jerk.  You think so?  Maybe?

I don’t have any time for the politically correct crap or worries about offending people.

Clearly not.  You have demonstrated that you’re perfectly fine with offending someone when they haven’t met your completely arbitrary standards.  That isn’t their fault.  That’s on you, bub.

While I understand the point about political correctness, and agree that sometimes it does go too far, often there is good reason for it.  For instance, I find it to be a good thing that, as a society, we are trying to eliminate words like “retarded” and “cripple” when describing folks who have certain kinds of disabilities.

It may be safe when you’re in a crowd of bigots to decry political correctness as some tenet of the “liberal agenda,” or proof of the ongoing “culture war.”  But being politically incorrect doesn’t give Larry the Cable Guy carte blanche to be a racist, nor does it give anyone else the right to treat people like trash.  In other words, just being “politically incorrect” is not an excuse for your bad behavior.

IT’S CHRISTMAS AND PEOPLE SHOULD CALL IT THAT.

This is so irritating.  It’s not Christmas, jackass.  It’s December 3rd.  You have to can your faux-outrage for at least a couple more weeks.

Look, I’m an atheist and I get into the festivities this time of year, too.  I’m no fan of the rampant consumerism, and I don’t give much thought to some Bronze Age prophet who may or may not have even existed.  But I do enjoy exchanging gifts with friends and family and stuffing my face with food as much as the next guy.  I don’t think we should be excluding anyone who wants to join in on the fun.  So whatever someone believes, whether you assume they’re saying it for politically correct reasons or not, can you at least just be less of a grinch?  I mean, seriously, why are you choosing to be offended by something so trivial?

Image from IWSRadio.com

Image from IWSRadio.com

If I’m out at the store and the cashier wishes me a “happy holiday,” I’m not going to have a fit.  Working in the service industry, you come across enough scrooges as it is.  So I’m going to say, “Thanks!  And happy holidays to you, too.  Enjoy your day.”  Same goes if someone says “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Kwanzaa,” or “Enjoy the Solstice” to me.  They’ll get a corresponding reply, and it doesn’t matter if I don’t celebrate their particular holiday.  If they were nice enough to relay a few kind words, the least I can do is muster up a “thanks, you too.”

That’s really my point.  If you truly care about Christmas, then show a little more of those good tidings and cheer.  Get over yourself and just be polite.  Treat people with respect and, for the love of the Christ which you may or may not even believe in, stop being such an asshole.

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Book Review: “An Atheist in the FOXhole” by Joe Muto

In April of 2012, Joe Muto made headlines around the world as the anonymous “Fox Mole,” a staffer at the cable news giant who was surreptitiously feeding Gawker.com embarrassing unaired video of political candidates, as well as dishing dirt from inside the newsroom about the network’s biggest stars. It lasted all of about two days before he was found out and summarily dismissed. He went on to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of attempted theft and computer tampering, perform some community service and, ultimately, sign a low six-figure book deal from Dutton.

foxholeThat book, “An Atheist in the FOXhole,” is deceptive in a couple of different ways. The title, which as an atheist myself I love, may possibly mislead some into thinking it is a manifesto of godlessness. That would be an unfortunate presumption as Muto mentions his own non-belief a grand total or maybe three times, if that, and the book in no way travels down a road of secularism or anti-religious ramblings. Not that it would have been a bad thing from my perspective, but that is simply not what the book is about. Secondly, the marketing of the book itself as merely an insider’s trashing of Fox News belies what I feel is a more broad and satisfying story; one in which the ethical dilemma of hiding your personal beliefs in exchange for professional gain is explored, as well as how working in the hectic television news industry can take a toll on personal relationships.

But, of course, while all that may be a welcome addition, it’s likely not why many people will want to read this book. They want the dirt! And that’s okay, too, because there’s plenty of it.

Bill O’Reilly, the highly rated host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” makes many appearances. While his gruff demeanor is on full display as he belittles and downgrades Muto and his other underlings during pitch meetings, it’s the stories about his dustups with upper management, as well as other Fox News personalities like Sean Hannity (they can’t stand each other) that make for even more entertaining reading. You read other funny tidbits as well; from Bill’s inability to understand the concept of wireless printing, thus forcing his staff to simply tell him they are “faxing” him documents, to the story behind the legendary “Jack Mehoffer” email. Most any story involving O’Reilly is funny because Muto successfully captures his immense presence. You can see and hear the tirades playing out in your mind.

Then again, some Bill-O moments are less comical than they are downright embarrassing. Here I am speaking of the sexual harassment debacle involving Andrea Mackris and O’Reilly’s odd, yet extraordinarily detailed, sexual fantasies involving a loofah mitt and falafel. Bill’s “Factor” staff were basically forced to walk on eggshells around him more than usual, while also having to tread very carefully when ordering Middle Eastern lunch items, lest he believe they were making fun of him.

mutoBut Muto is wise in including a softer, more human side of Papa Bear, too, explaining that despite all the grief O’Reilly put him through, there is a latent affection still present. He details Bill’s fondness for his children, which leads him to keep incredibly short office hours in order to spend as much time as possible with them. His love of a free buffet, in which he is found bull-rushing his way to the front of the line for a hot dog, despite the millions in salary he pulls down each year. And how the sizable proceeds of the corny merchandise Bill promotes at the end of each episode of “The Factor” go directly to charity.

But that’s really just one part of the story. He explains why he went undercover for Gawker in the first place, and the method by which he was found out. You’ll also learn plenty about the inner workings of the Fox right-wing empire, including surprising revelations about whether or not the talent truly receive “marching orders,” the archaic video playback system that always seemed on the verge of breaking down, and the curious peccadillos of a variety of on-air personalities that manifest during off-camera moments.

What’s next for Joe Muto is unknown. It is a strong possibility that his actions as the “Fox News Mole” have cost him any opportunity of finding work in television news again. CNN and MSNBC, for instance, may simply find him untrustworthy. But he has produced here an enlightening tale about the behind-the-scenes mechanisms of Fox News, and one that I found a great deal of enjoyment in reading. I am pleased to recommend it to you.

On a related note, this past Sunday on Strange Frequencies Radio, myself and my friend/co-host Bobby Nelson spoke to Mr. Muto about this book and his time at Fox News. Click here to find out more information about the episode, which is available as a download, or on iTunes and Stitcher in podcast form.