Sunday, December 19, 2004

Bill O'Reilly loves Christmas

Bill O'Reilly: Christmas haters have an agenda

I guess Bill O'Reilly is the Champion of Christmas now. I suspect that he witnessed the huge response from earlier remarks and decided to troll for more attention. I feel a little ashamed giving it to him, but answering shoddy arguments always was a guilty pleasure.
The fall of religion in Canada has corresponded to a change in public policy. Canadians have legalized gay marriage and any kind of abortion, and the age of consent for sex is 14. Can you imagine American adults being allowed to fool around with children that age? I can't.
Age of consent in some United States has been as low as 14, and may still be. I see that the South Carolina state Constitution Article III, Section 33 puts the age at 14 for "unmarried women", and this is dated 1999, not some left-over from the birth of the state. It's also interesting that this page says confusingly that some South Carolina laws outside its constitution place the age higher. In any case, if Mr. O'Reilly really finds it hard to imagine, perhaps a visit to Missouri could help with that.

(As an aside, I can't help but notice that all states that are listed as having an age-of-consent of 14 also voted for President Bush in the most recent election. Not that that means anything.)

My point?
  • Bill O'Reilly is out of touch with the reality of age of consent in the United States.
  • Bill O'Reilly didn't check his facts about age of consent.
  • Quit knocking Canada.
I don't know where I'd set age of consent if it were up to me. I notice that in at least one state, the age depends on the age of the other partner (e.g., you can fool around with a 15-year-old, but only if you're under 21), so clearly it's not as simple as a line in the sand.
The anti-Christmas forces say it's all about diversity, protecting the sensitivities of those Americans who get offended by the mere mention of the birth of Jesus. Somehow I haven't been able to locate any of these folks who find a baby in a manger so off-putting it ruins their day.
This is in something published December 13. On December 3, someone called into O'Reilly's show who said he, "grew up with a resentment because I felt that people were trying to convert me to Christianity." The caller also said, "Christmas carols or gift exchanges being done in school, that kind of sets the kids up to being converted." Perhaps the article published ten days after the call was actually written before, but I suspect Mr. O'Reilly is disingenuous here when he says he can't find anyone who holds the beliefs he's discussing.

I'm going to summarize some of Mr. O'Reilly's other points.
  1. Most people marginalizing Christmas think they're supporting the minority of Americans who don't celebrate the birth of Christ.
  2. The secular-progressive movement knows that organized religion stands in the way of their causes (e.g., legalized narcotics).
  3. "Committed secularists in the media, courts and education system" support the causes in question (referred to as an "agenda").
  4. Canada already has some of those causes supported and has also secularized Christmas.
  5. Marginalizing Christmas is a strategy to make it easier to push on these other progressive causes.
Let me tease out some implications here. The best is that "committed secularists" have duped people into supporting the secularization of Christmas, that those people support it for reasons other than what they themselves actually believe. This is like saying Arkansas is against same-sex marriage because Jerry Falwell told them so. I also like how support of same-sex marriage in Canada is a result of the secularization of Christmas, as opposed to being simply two things that Canadians have agreed on.

Ultimately, what really bugs me about a piece like this is how cheaply it lies. Forming a solid argument is difficult. It's easy to vomit onto a page and see what sticks, and it's comparatively hard to clean up the mess.

There are good reasons for celebrating Christmas in public. None of those reasons involve insidious secularists or legal narcotics. If Bill O'Reilly really wants to keep Christmas alive, I suggest that a piece about the wickedness of Christmas's enemies is a lousy way to champion the cause. Write a piece about what makes Christmas great. That's something I'd love to read.
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