The silly season has started or How political correctness is not going mad

Cover of the Daily Mail - "Pope's battle to save Christmas"
As usual the Daily Mail is leading the war on the (non-existent) "ban Christmas brigade" and look they'll even give you a Cliff DVD

Well it took a little longer than I thought but the silly season is upon us. I refer of course to the myriad of complaints I see about Christmas. Not the “it’s all so commercialised” ones or even the “it’s based on a pagan festival” ones but the “It’s PC gone mad” nonsense.

Today I came across an “article” entitled Christmas Cracker falls flat at Christmas.org.uk. I quote…

When a mother allowed her daughter to carry a box of Christmas crackers up to a supermarket till in Stowmarket, Suffolk, she was told that her daughter had just been breaking the law. The staff member on the till told Lisa Innes, 36, that crackers are classed as explosives and could not be carried around by her daughter, Tia-Rose. It was only when Lisa took the box and handed it to the staff member herself, that she was allowed to buy them.

This was a reworking of a fuller article at the Daily Telegraph which had more depth and pointed out that the shop assistant was simply trying not to fall foul of the law. A recent change in the law means anyone selling “explosives” to an under 16yr old could be imprisoned or fined up to £5000 and yes Christmas Craksers contains explosives. So maybe the law is (again) the ass here and the shop assistant was just making sure he didn’t break it. Incidentally the issue was not the child carrying the crackers but that by taking them off her the shop assistant could have been prosecuted by trading standards for selling them to a child.

What concerns me here though is that this made it to a national newspaper. Why is this kind of thing suddenly news? People have been refusing to do certain things because they were worried about getting in trouble for many years. Long before it was called “political correctness”. Incidentally why is it that the only time I hear that term it is in a complaint about it? I’ve never heard someone saying “We are just trying to be politically correct” only the accusatory “They are just being political correct” or the more customary “gone mad” whinge. Yes it’s a ridiculous situation and call me an old fart but what happened to just shrugging, dismissing it as ridiculous, moaning to your neighbours and getting on with your life?

There’ll be more where that came from

I’m also bracing myself for the usual yuletide suspects to arrive as well. You know “Christmas is banned”, “Winterfest”, “Decorations not allowed”, “Cliff Richard song banned” etc.

Cobblers! It’s all cobblers. I refuse to believe there is a conspiracy to remove “our culture”. I can even find a real definition of who “we” are or what “our culture” is. For the main part I can’t see what would be gained by such a conspiracy. Money? Doubt it – Christmas is boomtime for the retail sector. Perhaps it’s some spiritual attack? Except the stuff that is allegedly being “eroded” is also denounced as part of the “increasing secularisation” of Christmas. If a child is unable to buy crackers does that mean said child and their family will not attend a church?

The truth is that Christmas has only once been banned in this country – during the only time we were not a monarchy when Oliver Cromwell was in charge. Winterfest, Winterval et al were marketing terms used to describe a three month long period between November and January. I often find the same people who complain about the use of “Winterfest” also moan that “Christmas is starting earlier and earlier these days”. Decorations are usually not allowed because they were draped across a staircase or something or worse it turns out to be just a piece of tinsel was moved away from a lightbulb. I’m sure the same people who moan about this would moan if their workplace caught fire or they tripped and fell down the stairs. And I for one am quite happy that twee “Christmas” songs are not played (as opposed to “banned”) on the radio – regardless of who the singer is. I like Cliff as a person and he’s made some good songs but it doesn’t give him a right to being number 1 in the big marketing exercise that is the charts. Again there is some irony that those who moan about the over-commercialisation of Christmas will also complain that a musician’s attempt to sell lots of records on the back of the season is being foiled. Even if the record is for charity being the Christmas number one instead of three weeks at number two will not necessarily raise more funds for it.

Pot, kettle, black

Yeah I know I’m moaning as much as the people I’m moaning about but this constant “Out culture is being eroded” and “It’s a nanny state” rubbish gets me down. Here’s some advice – if someone refuses to sell your child some Christmas Crackers or asks you to move some tinsel or suggests your oh-so-funny musical “Santa” hat with the flashing lights is inappropriate for the workplace: don’t go to the papers, just buy the crackers yourself, move the tinsel and leave the hat at home. Cries of jobsworth-killjoys could easily be aimed at those who insist everyone must enjoy Christmas the same way they do – however that is. How about we focus on the stuff we enjoy, ignore the stuff we don’t and get on with more important stuff (he says after writing a blog post about it all – no lost sense of irony here you know!)

Bottom line? If you feel like Christmas is not what you wanted or expected it to be then in the words of Jean-Luc Picard it’s up to you to make it so.

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