Friday, January 19, 2007

Phony-baloney war gets even phonier

This morning, splashed across the very top of the front page of my Times of Trenton, is the headline:

Saints alive! More questions arise over holidays

Right after that, is the inset quote:

"Will they let our children draw shamrocks and leprechauns when they won't let them draw reindeer and Santa Claus?"

Ok, now that we've gotten past the O'Reilly-like phony-baloney war-on-Christmas sensationalism, here's the actual story:

Hopewell Valley Regional Schools decided to eliminate religious celebrations of Christmas. Some parents got bent, as often happens when people try to separate church and state, and a "local radio station" got involved in whipping up controversy- it doesn't say which one but I'm sure we can all guess. Anyway, at this week's school board meeting where they were trying to standardize the policy about the holidays across the whole district for future years, some parents- from the article it seems to be two, a couple- asked if this would be applied to Saint Valentine's and Saint Patrick's day as well- a valid question since these two holidays, although secularized much more than Christmas, have roots in a Christian tradition. The school board said they maybe will review other holidays in the future, but right now, no:

"No, we're not doing anything with Valentine's Day," said Hopewell Valley
Regional Superintendent Judith Ferguson.

And that's pretty much it. But you wouldn't know that from the huge headline and the inflammatory quote across the top. This absolutely does not deserve big-headline, front-page-above-the-fold treatment- but controversy sells, so the Times splashed it nice and big across the front.

The old line about a "liberal" media is so much hogwash. What we have is a "sensationalist" media- maybe sometimes with a political slant, or a complete Republican lie and twist job, like Fox Newz- a media that is intent on getting us to pay attention to the most sensational stories. That's what sells. I'm disappointed in the Times for making such a big deal of a school board meeting which simply clarified a district policy, but I'm not surprised.

Would everybody- newspapers, bad TV "journalists", religious zealots, anti-religious zealots- please just stop trying to inflame us all about not agreeing with one another? Diversity is a big asset of Our Fair State, not a flash point.


Rob S. said...

Saints Alive! And they want your BRAINNNNSSS!!

Bob said...

Even more than Christmas, St. Patrick's & St. Valentine's Days are transparently pre-Christian pagan festivals. The saints are Catholics draped with legends. It's surprising that the uber-Calvinists on the protestant right haven't tried to ban them.

Chris A. said...

Hey, your piece got mentioned in today's paper! Page 18C, "MEDIA SPREADS HOLIDAY TERROR, BLOGGER WARNS."

DBK said...

As issues go, the War on Christmas trivializes Christmas, Jesus, and Christianity. Maybe that's what the papers have in mind? Could this be some sort of conspiracy?

Heh heh. I love the hissy fits by the parents about whether their kids can draw Santa Claus in school. Very funny stuff.

Janet said...

I swear people need to get a life. Ridiculousness like this is exactly why I'm glad to work in a district that could care less and is a bit old-fashioned in its approach to holiday celebrating. However did we get by before? What has changed so much now?