Observations on the world today.

Monday, December 05, 2005

An Open Letter To Joe Fitzgerald 

The following letter appeared in today's Pitsburgh Post-Gazette:
Merry Christmas

In regards to Jason Johnson's Dec. 2 letter, "We're Celebrating Christmas, not 'Holiday' ": Jason, I'm with you.

I'm sick and tired of all this political correctness. Nobody cares about offending me (white male, 30s, Irish descent). I'm offended by people who don't put their hand over their heart or take off their caps off or turn their back when the National Anthem is being played. But who cares if it offends me?

I'm offended when people of non-Irish decent use St. Patrick's day as an excuse just to get drunk and act like stupid, idiot, morons. I'm 100 percent Irish and I don't drink! Why shouldn't I be offended, but who cares if it offends me?

Hell, I bet I just offended someone by saying stupid, idiot, morons! Do I get offended by Notre Dame "Fighting Irish"? I'm 100 percent Irish and I don't fight but you don't see me whining and complaining.

So, what -- I'm not supposed to put Christmas decorations in my yard because it might offend someone somewhere?

Do I get offended when I get called a "cracker"? Yes, I do ... but who cares if it offends me!

Dear Joe,

I'm a white male, early 40s, Irish descent. So What? When people say things that are designed to offend me because of my gender, age or ethnicity I can afford to shrug it off. Call me cracker. I won't care either, but not because I have a thicker skin. I won't care because I know that it's coming from a group that people like you marginalize, and so the name calling won't actually do anything to bring me harm. But if I was black, or Asian, or hispanic, or gay, or female or elderly, or any other minority or marginalized member of society, you'd best be darned sure I'd be offended if you chose to call me a name designed to further marginalize me, pal.

The problem is not simply that the kind of behavior you are talking about is not PC. The problem is that it is rude and hateful. Nobody wants to be rude and hateful in public, and the public sure doesn't want to have to be confronted with rudeness. So society devises unspoken rules of decorum. If you call a black man nigger in a crowd, don't be surprised to find yourself ostracized. That's not society's fault. It's yours for confusing ignorance with self-assertion.

You brought up being offended by people who don't put their hands over their hearts during the National anthem. What fucking century do you think you live in, Joe? Around the midddle of the previous century, it may have been PC to be offended by individualism, but that was then. And as SE Hinton noted back then, this is now.

But you still have the right to be offended by people who refuse to recite the pledge or whatever. Personally, I'm offended by people who think that in a land founded on religious and political freedom that patriotism is reciting an oath of fealty to a piece of cloth through the recitation of a thinly veiled government sanctioned prayer, but that's just me, and nobody can scorn you for being so offended. Well, they can, but they shouldn't. Well, I think they should, but you can think they shouldn't ... but you'd be wrong.

Anyway, let's get to the crux of your letter. When people say, "Happy Holidays," it doesn't mean that they are worried that Christmas offends people. It means that they are concerned that people who don't celebrate the birth of Jesus will feel an obligation to recognize their greeting, and maybe even return it. And why should those people be so burdoned? We live in a secular society made up of many creeds and faiths. Why would you even want to wish a Jew merry Christmas? Would you want a pagan wishing you a happy Salmhain? Would you be comfortable receiving a Muslim's invitation to enjoy your Eid? Of course you wouldn't. So how is it a burden on you to not inflict the same discomfort on them?

Happy Holidays, Joe, and stop taking your talking points from that idiot Bill O'Reilly.


PS, nobody cares if you put a Christmas display in your yard. Just don't put one in my courthouse. And for the record, a quote like this one; "I'm 100 percent Irish and I don't fight but you don't see me whining and complaining," IS whining and complaining.
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