thought it was the season to be jolly. In the state of Georgia (as in, “look at the state of Georgia!” ) there is a woman, a very Christian mother of four, who has been campaigning tirelessly to have all Harry Potter books removed from public school and library bookshelves. The authorities rejected her case, but there has been an appeal, and a decision will be made this week. Her claim is that the books “promote witchcraft” and was concerned that children who read them would suddenly perform satanic acts, calling the books, whose stories focus primarily on the struggle of love and friendship against hatred, intolerance and ignorance, “not educationally suitable”. She enlisted the help of a young girl who said that she had been so affected by the message of evil in Harry Potter that she had decided to kill herself (voici). Never mind that Harry Potter has managed to get the gameboy generation into books again. The message of hope was totally overlooked by people who went looking for a message of hate. Have these people got nothing better to do? Is having four children not enough work that you have to go out and try to deny other children great stories (and I’ll bet she’s not campaigning for real things such as gun control and junk food in schools)? Is she going to spend as much energy going through every other work of children’s literature in which someone uses magic and have every copy sent to the local Bible-Belt Book-Burning? After all, the crux of their argument is that any use of magic is a turn towards the way of the devil. Better to teach children to burn books than to read them. Bloody right-wing religious nutcases – I’m glad I don’t live anywhere like that.
And so Christmas is almost here, but you better not say so – people might get offended. That whole annual argument about saying “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” seemed to get so many people in a knot last year, when I first experienced Christmas in California, that I was surprised anyone found anything Happy or Merry about it at all. It’s started already, and I can feel myself getting irritated by the pointlessness of it all already. People being offended when you wish them a “Merry Christmas”. There was a guy on the radio yesterday who was incensed at the fact that there are Christmas trees decorating Denver airport, and the host whole-heartedly agreed, saying that this showed the public was having Christianity rammed down their throats. Never mind that Christmas trees have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity or the story of Christ’s birth. Nor do most things that Americans associate with Christmas – Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (don’t remember any reindeer in the stable at Bethlehem), Candy Canes, Commercialism, Gluttony, crap films. Never mind that most of these things, like the decorated tree which has ancient Germanic origins (cf, the Irminsul of the Saxons), are a cultural inheritance that pre-dates Christianity (even crap films; has a druid ever won an Oscar? Didn’t think so). No, some people would rather take away anything that even reminds them of religion – it’s separation of church and state, you know, guv. Never mind that the official alternative to having a Merry Christmas, ‘Happy Holiday’, quite literally means ‘have a Happy Holy Day’. I mean, how overtly religious can you get? It certainly doesn’t mean holiday as the British use the word, as there are fewer holidays in the American so-called Holiday Season than in other countries (they don’t have any Boxing Day, for one thing). Personally, I’m offended when people say we shouldn’t say “Merry Christmas”. I’m not a Christian; I’ve travelled from one end of this world to the other and I’ve never seen anything to make me believe in one all-powerful God controlling everything (it’s all a load of burning books and nonsense). I celebrate Christmas however as a cultural event – it’s an ingrained part of my culture, it’s been around for longer than the Church, and hell, it’s just fun. If someone wishes me a Happy Hannukah, or Merry Divali, or even a Jolly Green Giant Day, I will be pleased, not offended. It’s the bit about someone wishing me a happy time that I’m interested in.
It’s so much easier in other languages, where you can just say Joyeux Noël or Gud Jul. After much grinding of the teeth, I have decided that I will not let these foolish issues bother me any longer. I can’t change them, so I’m going to join them. Yes, that’s right. I’m going to write to that woman in Georgia, and tell her that I’m all for banning that little cunt Potter (whose name literally means “one who deals drugs”!), and give her a long list of other things she should consider banning, in the name of our children’s spiritual health. Star Wars (all that worshipping of The Force, Luke Skywalker is just so evil he should be called Lucifer Skywalker), Cinderella (fairy godmothers using magic to twist the minds of innocent young girls), Bewitched (evil and sorcery on daytime TV!), Crazy Frog (I’ll take any chance of banning that bloody thing I can get), to name but a few. Oh yes, I can feel the zealousness in me now. Can you feel it! Can you feeeel it! And then I’m going to write to that easily-offended Ebenezer on the radio and tell him I have started my own campaign to not only get rid of all Christmas trees in my local community, but to chop down as many pine forests as possible, so we are never reminded of the Tannenbaum ever again. I’m going to see if he wants to set up a movement to protect the poor delicate public from all reminders of religion , and provide him with a long list of words that have to go from the English language, because of their religious etymologies. Words such as ‘holiday’, or ‘goodbye’, or ‘Wednesday’, or ‘Fuck’ (who was a demon I think, you always hear of that guy in Hell). Honestly, I really will do this; I’m going to have some fun.
Or I could just spend my efforts having a very Merry Christmas, and whatever you celebrate at this time of year, I hope you do too.