Rightwing Film Geek

♫ On the first day of The Exclusionary Offensive Holiday ♫

When Christians talk about a “War on Christmas,” THIS kind of crap is what we mean …

CHICAGO (AP) — A public Christmas festival is no place for the Christmas story, the city says.
Officials have asked organizers of a downtown Christmas festival, the German Christkindlmarket, to reconsider using a movie studio as a sponsor because it is worried ads for its film “The Nativity Story” might offend non-Christians.
New Line Cinema, which said it was dropped, had planned to play a loop of the new film on televisions at the event.

Now, let’s be crystal-clear what we’re talking about. We’re NOT talking about a permanent monument. We’re NOT even really talking about an act by the government itself. No. We’re talking about the government telling a private group the terms under which it has access to public space. (Maybe the German festival organizers should rename themselves the Ku Klux Klan — then they’ll get the ACLU to be solicitous of them.)

Also, we’re NOT talking about legislation favoring one religion. We’re NOT even talking about prayers at a secular event like Memorial Day or a high-school graduation. No. We’re talking about a specifically religious holiday with a specifically religious meaning.

And, finally, what is supposedly offensive is NOT someone yelling verses from Leviticus at the Gay Pride Parade or staging the Oberammergau Passion Play or playing the security tape from the bar where Borat and Mel Gibson tied on a few. We’re talking about showing a movie that is about *exactly* the event the festival is supposed to about (i.e., “Christkindl,” which I think is German for “Christ-child”¹).

What this IS is a clear case. It is not a close call. Sure, the state hasn’t actually forbidden anything. Merely made its opinion known to the organizers. The term for this is “chill,” one that free-speech liberals understand quite well when the subject is, let’s say, libel law or restrictions on political speech or reporting.

And for what end? … to de-religionize a private party’s actions with respect to a religious holiday. Like a St. Patrick’s Day with no reference to St. Patrick, or a Thanksgiving with no reference to the Pilgrims (although neither of those examples are actually THAT much beyond what has already gone on). It’s just knee-jerk burbling for anyone to say there is no war against Christmas, no attempt to cleanse Christianity from the public sphere, however successful. The degree of success this war is having or whether it’s a good or bad thing … those things we CAN debate meaningfully. But that there is a broad-based assault is not a serious topic any more.

Here’s the question I immediately asked myself when I saw this story on the newswires.

An executive vice president with New Line Cinema, Christina Kounelias … said she finds it hard to believe that non-Christians who attended something called Christkindlmarket would be surprised or offended by the presence of posters, brochures and other advertisements of the movie.
“One would assume that if (people) were to go to Christkindlmarket, they’d know it is about Christmas,” she said.

One would assume that. And in a sane world, one could. If you’re of such delicate sensibilities as to be offended by THE NATIVITY STORY, a real city official or jurist would laugh in your face, ask “what the colorful are you doing at an event called ‘Christ-Child Festival’,” and tell you to “get a frickin’ life.”

But no. In these interesting times where even the dumbest and most paranoid and self-righteous have the right to become “ACLU clients,” such a response who invite municipal ruin. Government officials nationwide, based on how the courts have set up the incentive structures, are now well-trained to think doubleplusgood-thought: Christianity = “controversial”; other religions = “celebrate our diversity.”
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UPDATE 1: Dom actually has the best analogy, better than the Thanksgiving and St. Patrick’s Day ones I could come up with last night.

That’s like holding a D-Day commemoration on June 6 and banning a poster for the movie “Saving Private Ryan” because it might offend pacifists.

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UPDATE 2: Jeff in the comment field noted a fight over the divisive symbol of cemetery crosses in “Baghdad by the Bay” (Hey … them’s his words. He live there.)

I note from the San Francisco Chronicle he linked to, the following lead.

Scores of emotionally charged citizens praised and denounced Lafayette’s controversial display of stark white crosses during a City Council meeting Monday that filled every seat in the chamber and lasted more than 2 1/2 hours.

As I say … “Christianity=controversial” … stated as a fact in a news story lead. Still, ya gotta love the fact that here’s one example of liberals finding crosses an acceptable thing to show in public space.
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UPDATE 3: Here’s something from the same festival, taken by Amy Welborn when she was there in 2003.

KristKindlIslam

What jackanapery. Apparently, that’s NOT going to offend anyone. It’s just a celebration of our diversity, etc. As someone in Dom’s comment field said: I wonder why during cities’ observances of Ramadan, there are no ‘equal time” crosses and menorahs.
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¹ I think, but I’m not sure. I was too busy in grad-school studying Hegel’s “Zeitgeist” and Heidegger’s “Seinsvergessenheit” to get to the really difficult German translation issues like “Christkindl.”

November 27, 2006 - Posted by | Religion in society

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