Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Trees Offensive? What Are You Smoking?

Last night, while watching TV from a Maritime Channel, I saw a "News Update" during the commercials. The anchor mentioned that [don't remember the public building] had a Christmas tree standing in it. People apparently complained saying they were offended by the tree.

Hello? What are you smoking? What is offensive about a Christmas Tree? In my opinion, the two most abused phrases in our language are:
1. That's Racist
2. That's Offensive

The racist one is a separate issue and I won't get into that now.

That's Offensive!

Let's look at the meaning of Offensive. (from dictionary.com)
of·fen·sive
adjective
1. causing resentful displeasure; highly irritating, angering, or annoying: offensive television commercials.
2. unpleasant or disagreeable to the sense: an offensive odor.
3. repugnant to the moral sense, good taste, or the like; insulting: an offensive remark; an offensive joke.
4. pertaining to offense or attack: the offensive movements of their troops.
5. characterized by attack; aggressive: offensive warfare.

Let's pick apart the meaning of offensive.
First, a coniferous tree doesn't give off an offensive odor, and if it did then people should complain about the species of tree in an urban area, not the decoration on said tree. So that rules out number 2
As for the repugnant, insulting etc. I didn't see the tree look at somebody and say to them, "an Islamic and a Jewish guy went for a walk...." so no offensive jokes or bad taste. That rules out number 3.
I don't know about you, but I've sure as hell never seen a Christmas tree roundhouse kick a passer by with Ninja precision. Nor have I never seen a Christmas tree Commando roll into the room and kill people with an assault Rifle, so Number 5's out too.
Since we know Ninja trees don't exist, there's no need for them to advance across a battle field, so nope, number 4's right out!

That leaves #1; Causing resentful displeasure; highly irritating, angering, or annoying. Okay. this must be what people complain about. Let me tell you what's annoying. Being cut off in traffic is annoying. Let me tell you what's irritating. People that need to make themselves feel better by attempting to oppress others. A Christmas tree is not either of these. Let's look at a Christmas tree as a religious symbol. How is a Christmas tree any more or less offensive than The following.
1. A Statue of Shiva, the Hindu God
2. A Statue of Buddha Shakyamuni (Not the belly rubbing Buddha)
3. The Islamic Symbol of the Crescent moon and star.

Is it the fact that a person has a different point of view what makes it offensive? If so, does that mean that the other items on this list are offensive to if the person being offended is of none of these faiths? Does this "offended" person give any thought to how they may be offending other hyper-sensitive people with their religion/believe structure? this is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. I ask each of my readers to tell me how can a tree be offensive and not the other items shown above? careful how you answer that, 'cause I may call bullshit and then call you a hypocrite. If anybody out there believes in a Flying Spaghetti moster, cool, but I tell you a 50 foot statue of the spaghetti moster would prompt me to take a photo, not issue a public out cry that I was offended.

Heck, when I see and of these symbols of people's faith; I think about how these religious influences help people lead a better life. I don't say, "Hey I don't believe in Buddha, it's offensive get rid of it" It's the most ridiculous thing to think. Each religion has it's own values, and they're own symbols and statues etc. Unless any of these items undoubtedly imply the persecution or destruction of others, I see absolutely no offensive meaning to them. I say undoubtedly because the swastika is recognized as a sign of evil, but is actually a very sacred symbol in Hindu belief (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika); therefore, people need to use something called "the brain" before they fly off the rocker and claim Offensive. Yes a swastika is offensive, IF and ONLY IF used in the context that refers back to the Third Reich.

There's an age old saying. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. You won't see a 25 Metre tall Christmas tree in Tiananmen Square, and you won't see a huge Menorah lighting up this weekend in New Delhi. Why not? Simple the foundation of those countries values are not based on these religions. In North America, we are much more accepting than many nations in the world. People of different faiths are told to be proud and should be. All peoples human rights are observed and they may practise their religion. That right doesn't just include non-Christian religions, It includes Christians too... Hmmm.. I guess therefore, the Christmas tree is just as protected as other symbols. :-)

These people need to give their head a shake, isn't there something better to spend your energy on? If you have that much energy to bitch and complain, go and help out at a homeless shelter; Do something that will better the life of others. There's nothing "Offensive" in a Christmas tree. Quit trying to fill your own personal agenda and look at the bigger picture..

Sheeeesh....

7 comments:

gfroese said...

Amen

Anonymous said...

I'll play along - devil's advocate.

Let's say you have other beliefs, other than Christian. A tree and other symbols in front of a church, that's fine, but why should it decorate the front of a courthouse or other government building? I don't see a menora in front or any number of other symbols. I'm going to pay a ticket, why do I need to be "offended" by this in a public office?

GermanPickle said...

You've made my point. There's nothing offensive about the tree. So why's it offensive in a courthouse. What is it about this item that it could offend you in a courthouse and not outside a church? Both are public places. Yes, one is run by the government; however the foundation of this country is based on Christian ideals. Like it or not its the fact of life in Canada, USA, Europe. Place yourself in India, in front of a statue of Shiva. Would this offend you? There's no difference. Both are a symbol of faith and critical to the local culture. To consider an item belonging to a faith not your own "offensive" is a sign of close mindedness.

It would be entirely different if you were told to pray to Jesus before entering the courthouse. It's only a displaypiece.

Like I stated, if I moved to India, I would accept the religious symbols there. There's a lot of things that are offensive in this world, but a symbol that promotes peace, sharing, unity etc. is the furthest from it, even if you're not of that faith. It all comes down to understanding and accepting cultural diversity. This country based on it's history observes Christian holidays. Don't like it? Suck it up, or weigh your pros and cons on living in this wonderful country. I have weighed my pros and cons, and look I'm still here.

I could rant about this on and on, but some people will never see the reasoning behind it. If you've immigrated from another country how would you feel if somebody tried to undermine your culture?

However, on a parting note. If the symbols of religion and foundation of this country bother you and offend you, please indicate this to your employer so that the "Religious, offensive" holidays are not paid days off for you. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Anonymous said...

Actually, you just made the counter point: "the foundation of this country is based on Christian ideals". Does that mean that Christians should get treated better by the legal system? Pay less taxes? Hell no. The foundation of our society is that ALL people are equal, and when you put a symbol of one particular faith in front of a Goverment building you are implying that one particular faith is favoured over any other. Maybe our founding fathers were wrong to use Christian observances as the foundation of so many of our holidays, but maybe we should observe new ones as well, like Islamic new year starts January 19th -- I would like a long weekend!

Anonymous said...

"There's an age old saying. When in Rome, do as the Romans do..."

You know, the above has been said to many oppressed people all through history. On Martin Luther King jr's birthday I would like to say I'm glad he and other people didn't take that advice and stood up for themselves when they felt oppressed. He did't just "give their head a shake" and accepted the status quo as you probably would have advised him to do.

GermanPickle said...

There's a big difference between oppression and what we see here.

Seeing a Christmas tree in front of a building doesn't state superiority of the religion, that's where you're thinking is flawed. Nobody said Christianity is better, but what I do say is that's what values the country is founded on, and that's an unarguable fact. Taking offense to this is ridiculous. My parents have a photo of my sibling in their doorway, Should I take offense? Should I assume that They love my sibling more? absolutely not.

Have you travelled to countries where people have drastically different cultures? If so, have you attempted to immerse yourself into that culture and understand it?

We have one set of laws for one set of people. these laws take into account people's diversity. This is why One is not required to place oath on a holy bible in court (That I could see as being offensive). One may wear their religious head dress is when wearing an RCMP uniform. these are signs of how our country has met the concerns of those that live here now, despite the roots of our country. However some aspects of Sharia Law has no place in our country. Neither does Female Circumcision. These two are examples of extremes, according to our countries values, no matter how offended a person may be that they can not stone their adulterous wife because it's their religous right to do so.

You see, these things can be taken to such extremes. To say an object standing in front of a building is offensive is just silly. If I chose tolive in a country a HUGE Buddha was displayed in front of a gov't building, because of the local values, I'd have no right to question that as long as my basic human rights are met.

I appreciate your comments, and you may leave a reply, however I will no longer continue this conversation. I feel both of our arguments are just repetitive now. I hope my blog doesn't offend you. Actually I couldn't give a rats ass. If you're offended, suck it up! In the end of the day it's all water under the bridge.

Anonymous said...

"There's a big difference between oppression and what we see here."

Yeah, the difference is that YOU are not the one being oppressed.

I never said anything about 'superiority' and did not use the word 'better'. I said 'favoured', meaning there is an implication that adherents of that religion will get better treatment then adherents of any other.

I assume then you are perfectly fine with stone tablets of the 10 commandments in front of courthouses too?