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December 23, 2010

Final Thoughts on the AFA's War on 'The War on Christmas'

The past week we've been one-by-one debunking the American Family Association's 'Naughty or Nice' list of retailers... because not only are they crazy, but even if you accept their craziness, they're still wrong. Basically they have divided random retailers and companies arbitrarily into three categories, Green ('Nice' - uses the term 'Christmas' on a regular basis), Yellow ('Neutral' - refers to 'Christmas' infrequently) and Red ('Naughty' - uses 'Christmas' sparingly or not at all). Because we all know how fucking offensive Happy Holidays" is, right?

We've already shown why the following companies are on the wrong lists:

We could keep going on and on disproving the claims made on their list (they were really off this year) but it's almost Christmas and some of us actually have stuff to do. But first, here are a few final thoughts...

Obviously, the ESC doesn't agree with the AFA that 'Christmas' must be recognized by retailers and non-religious companies. It's pretty annoying that despite the fact there is supposed to be a clear separation of church and state, the AFA (and others) seem to forget that not everyone is Christian, not everyone celebrates Christmas. We're not personally offended by 'Merry Christmas' but we all agree that 'Happy Holidays' is not only more inclusive, but it's also more accurate considering how many holidays are actually celebrated in the Winter.

So clearly, we think the AFA is wrong in their belief that all businesses must acknowledge Christmas (and not any other holidays). And we've already proven that they're wrong in determining which companies do or don't acknowledge Christmas. But we think they're actually wrong in one more way when it comes to this issue...

The whole basis of their 'Naughty or Nice' list is whether or not these retail stores use the word 'Christmas' and reference "items associated with Christmas (trees, wreaths, lights, etc.)" but we think that sort of misses the point. In their boycott of Gap/Old Navy last year, they wrote:

Christmas is special because of Jesus. It's not just a "winter holiday." For millions of Americans the giving and receiving of gifts is in honor of the One who gave Himself. For the Gap to pretend that isn't the foundation of the Christmas season is political correctness at best and religious bigotry at worst.

The Gap is censoring the word Christmas, pure and simple. Yet the company wants all the people who celebrate Christmas to do their shopping at its stores? Until Gap proves it recognizes Christmas by using it in their newspaper, radio, television advertising or in-store signage, the boycott will be promoted.

(They also made a big deal of the commercial that dared to mention the Solstice, which they called "the pagan holiday [...] celerated by Wiccans who practice witchcraft!")
Obviously there's a lot wrong with that statement... there are many winter holidays that are just as special to the people who celebrate them, as Christmas is the Christans; it's not religious bigotry to be inclusive of all religions, that's basically the opposite of religious bigotry; Jesus may be the foundation of Christmas, but he's not the foundation of the entire season.  But they make one interesting point:

Christmas is special because of Jesus.

Obviously we don't have a problem with Christmas trees and Santa Claus and all the commercial or secular aspects of the holiday, but shouldn't the AFA? If the point of Christmas really is Jesus, then why do they care what retail stores are doing? Why do they care about shopping and advertising? Why do they care about trees and wreaths and Santa? If Christmas is really about Jesus, then they shouldn't be butting their noses into frivolous, commercial aspects of the holiday season like shopping and advertising at all, because whether the store uses the word 'Christmas' or not they're still going against the real meaning of the season.

(Again, obviously we don't feel that way, but based on some of the other remarks made by the AFA in the past, it's clear that they should.)

I mean, let's look at the actual origins of Christmas, the way we celebrate it today. It doesn't actually have a lot to do with Jesus... We're supposed to be celebrating the birth of Jesus but some scholars are saying that Jesus likely wasn't born in December at all. So why do we celebrate on December 25th? December was chosen to compete with the pagan rituals associated with the winter solstice and the return of the sun.

The Christmas tree isn't very Christian at all either. (We're pretty sure there were no evergreen trees in Bethlehem during the birth of Christ.) This is a tradition that was stolen borrowed from pagan rituals for the winter solstice. As were the traditions of decorating with holly, ivy, mistletoe and other 'greenery'. Mistletoe was revered by Druid priests (as early as 200 years before the birth of Christ) because it remained green during the cold months of winter. Scandanavians associated it with the goddess of Love and many cultures believed that both mistletoe and holly had magical powers.

So basically, by celebrating Christmas in December with presents under a lit-up tree, in a house decorate with lights and holly and mistletoe, the AFA isn't staying true to Jesus... they're actually being true to the horrible, evil, Solstice that they mentioned earlier. If they really cared about Jesus, they'd stop celebrating in December all together.

The AFA already told us how horrible it is to recognize evil pagan holidays, so we think they should stop pressuring retailers to do so. They should stop harassing stores for not mentioning 'Christmas' enough times in their December advertising, because really, they wouldn't being true to Jesus if they did.

And because the AFA truly is the gift that keeps on giving, you can also check out our coverage from last year:
Have a happy holiday everyone, whatever you celebrate!

Debunking the AFA's Naughty/Nice List: Dollar Tree

As you know, we've been going over the American Family Association's list of Naughty and Nice" retailers (based on whether or not the company avoids or bans the use of the term 'Christmas', which according to the AFA means they're horrible people). We've already proven why quite a few of the companies on the 'naughty' list do not deserve to be there...

Truthfully we don't think any stores deserve to be there, but following the AFA's warped logic, these companies still don't make sense on the 'naughty' list. Here's yet another retailer that the AFA claims is not "Christmas-friendly" because they use the term 'Christmas' "sparingly" or not at all, Dollar Tree...

Do we even need to explain why they're wrong on this one or do the images just say it all?

Yes, clearly they're censoring Christmas because they totally hate Christmas. Yep. No mention of Christmas there. WTF AFA?

December 20, 2010

Debunking the AFA Naughty or Nice List: Barnes & Noble

Another store on the American Family Association's "naughty" list of "Companies against 'Christmas'" is Barnes & Noble.

To recap so far:
Being on the "naughty" list means that the AFA considers them to be a company that "may use 'Christmas' sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as a company, does not recognize it."

Here are a few screenshots from their website, showing that they do use the word 'Christmas' quite a bit:

A search for 'Christmas' produced 29,772 results. Almost 30,000 Christmas items and the AFA considers them in the same ranks as a company that uses 'Christmas' "sparingly in a single or unique product description"?

December 19, 2010

Debunking the AFA's Naughty & Nice List: Hancock Fabrics

Another store on the American Family Association's "naughty" list of "Companies against 'Christmas' is Hancock Fabrics.

To recap so far:
Being on the "naughty" list means that the AFA considers them to be a company that "may use 'Christmas' sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as a company, does not recognize it."

Hm, let's see how anti-Christmas they really are...

Upon visiting their website, you are immediately met with these "Christmas Tradition" sales:

Here's the 'Christmas section' of their Seasonal & Holiday Cotton:

Note that their use of the term 'holiday' doesn't refer to the all-inclusive 'Happy Holidays' that the AFA hates so much... If you look at their list of subcategories under the 'Seasonal and Holiday' section it includes holidays like Halloween, Valentine's Day, Easter and St. Patrick's Day... There's no mention of Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or the terrifying Solstice that is "celebrated by Wiccans who practice witchcraft" according to the AFA.

Or check out this obviously anti-Christmas category of Christmas Home Accents:

A search for the term 'Christmas' on their site yielded 1050 results. Clearly this is a company that only uses the word 'sparingly' right?

December 17, 2010

Debunking the AFA's Naughty or Nice List: Limited Brands

We're still working on disproving the American Family Association's "Naughty or Nice" list of retailers this year... We've already shown why Victoria's Secret does not belong on the red "Naughty" list.

Now we're going to address the fact that VS's parent company Limited Brands and the Limited Brands-owned Bath & Body Works are on the yellow list. It's ridiculous enough to include 3 related retailers as completely separate entities - but how can one company be be both 'anti-Christmas' and 'Christmas-neutral' at the same time? (Henri Bendel and La Senza, also owned by Limited Brands, were both excluded from the lists entirely.)

  • Bath & Body Works
We could only find one instance of the word 'Christmas' on the Bath & Body Works website and it was related to guaranteed Christmas Delivery:

However, the Shipping page refers to "Holiday delivery" and does not use the C-word.

They repeatedly use the term 'Holiday' instead of 'Christmas'... The closest they come to Christmas is 'Noel'...

Let's look again at the AFA's criteria:
If a company's ad has references to items associated with Christmas (trees, wreaths, lights, etc.), it was considered as an attempt to reach "Christmas" shoppers. If a company has items associated with Christmas, but did not use the word "Christmas," then the company is considered as censoring "Christmas."
Their site sure does look Christmassy, doesn't it?

It's a little confusing that this store - with its limited use of the word 'Christmas' - is in yellow, yet sister company Victoria's Secret can put 'Christmas' all over it's site and they're stuck on the red Naughty list. Why??

**Note we feel it's important to point out that we in NO way think that Bath & Body Works is wrong for using the word 'Holiday' in lieu of 'Christmas' or for using Christmas-imagery. We just think it's a little hypocritical to hold one company to a higher standard than another... and we think the AFA needs to brush up on their fact-checking skills.**

Henri Bendel

This store didn't make the AFA's list at all... We were unable to find a single instance of the word 'Christmas' on their site or its advertising. (We didn't see much red-and-green Christmas imagery either.)

La Senza

They mention 'Christmas' in regards to their shipping policies and there was a 'Holiday' section with red and green bras and panties (plus a "Santa skirt")... but we didn't see the word 'Christmas' elsewhere. A search for 'Christmas' did not match any products.

So let's recap...
  • Victoria's Secret: Lots of use of the word 'Christmas'. On the Red (Naughty) list.
  • Bath & Body Works: Almost no use of the word 'Christmas'. On the Yellow (Neutral) list.
  • Henri Bendel and  La Senza: Almost no use of the word 'Christmas'. Not on any of the lists.
  • Limited Brands: Almost no use of the word 'Christmas' on their corporate website. On the Yellow (Neutral) list.
So 3 out of 4 of their brands only use the word 'Christmas' sparingly, which is part of the AFA's criteria for making the Red (Naughty) list. However, the company that owns those 3 brands is on the Yellow (Neutral) list? And their one lone brand that does mention 'Christmas' repeatedly... is on the Red (Naughty) list. WTF AFA? (Again, let's be clear that we don't think it's bad or 'naughty' to refrain from using the word 'Christmas' or to use the more inclusive 'Holiday'... we're just following the AFA's messed up logic.)

At first we thought that maybe the AFA had confused Limited Brands with The Limited stores, which are no longer owned by Limited Brands. (They are now wholly owned by Sun Capital Partners Inc.) But their website doesn't use the word 'Christmas' either...

So AFA, what's your excuse for being completely arbitrary and inaccurate??? Just too lazy to research the list? Or do you just really hate Victoria's Secret that much?

December 16, 2010

Debunking the AFA Naughty & Nice List: Victoria's Secret

Last year the American Family Association put Victoria's Secret on their red "naughty" list as one of the "Companies against 'Christmas'". That means they consider them to be a company that "may use 'Christmas' sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as a company, does not recognize it." We very clearly debunked this claim by showing just how Christmassy VS really was.

This year Victoria's Secret is on the red list again and we can't figure out why. We can think of a few reasons why the AFA might not like Victoria's Secret, but they were very clear that their list only reflects a company's 'Christmas' advertising and does not take into account other corporate policies AFA may not agree with. So we're having a hard time following the logic that makes them anti-Christmas, especially when you consider the fact that their parent company Limited Brands somehow made it onto the yellow list.

First of all, they have an entire section entitled "Christmas Lingerie":

They also have an entire Christmas Specials catalog (with the word 'Christmas' right there on the cover).

The word 'Christmas' is mentioned in numerous places...

...and they have several specifically Christmas-themed items:

They also have a "stocking stuffers" category that includes perfume "ornaments" for the Christmas tree. And on several pages of their website, they advertise their Christmas delivery shipping options.

Clearly this is a company that hates Christmas, right? You can see how they refuse to recognize this very special holiday and avoid using the term 'Christmas' at all costs. You can tell just by looking at their entire section of Christmas-themed products, Christmas catalogs, and other Christmas items.

PS: If anyone is looking for a Christmas gift for the Evil Slut Clique, we'd love a pair of "ho ho hottie" panties, to go with our "Keep the HO in Holiday" t-shirts. Happy Holidays!

Another Year of the AFA's War on the 'War on Christmas'

It's that time of year again! It's time for the American Family Association's War on the "War on Christmas"... which means it's time to debunk the AFA's Christmas boycotts once again!

First a little reminder, for those of you who don't follow the AFA's craziness the way we do... The AFA has a little "naughty or nice" list that they compile every winter to show how some retailers recognize Christmas:
Based on current advertising, below is a list of companies that avoid, ban, or use the term "Christmas" in their advertising. We will continually update the list, so check back often.
Criteria - AFA reviewed up to four areas to determine if a company was "Christmas-friendly" in their advertising: print media (newspaper inserts), broadcast media (radio/television), website and/or personal visits to the store. If a company's ad has references to items associated with Christmas (trees, wreaths, lights, etc.), it was considered as an attempt to reach "Christmas" shoppers.
If a company has items associated with Christmas, but did not use the word "Christmas," then the company is considered as censoring "Christmas."
Color Code:
GREEN: Company uses the term "Christmas" on a regular basis, we consider that company Christmas-friendly.
YELLOW: Company refers to Christmas infrequently, or in a single advertising medium, but not in others.
RED: Company may use "Christmas" sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as a company, does not recognize it.
Here's what we had to say about it last year:
Yes, the fact that some stores choose to use a general holiday greeting that applies to everyone is a horrible nightmare. Sometimes when I'm out shopping for gifts and someone in a store wishes me "happy holidays", I find myself losing my moral and spiritual bearings and beginning to question who I am as a person and reevaluating the meaning of life, and then I have to get a lemonade from Auntie Anne's and sit on a bench outside of Socks Appeal until I feel better. It's a challenging experience.
Obviously we think it's ridiculous to get upset at a store daring to be more inclusive during the holiday season. Not that 'Christmas' is necessarily offensive, but c'mon, it's not the only holiday out there. There is also a big difference between trying to be more inclusive and sensitive to the fact that a lot of people celebrate other holidays and 'banning' Christmas (or, as the AFA calls it, "hostility toward Christmas expression").

Last year we debunked their classification of Bass Pro Shops as 'yellow' and low and behold: this year they're on the 'green' list. (So clearly they've been reading our blog.) We also pointed out a few of their others big fat mistakes.... for stores like Gap/Old Navy, Starbucks and Victoria's Secret.

This year we're going to pick out a few select stores that are totally in the wrong categories on the list and prove the AFA wrong one by one yet again. If the AFA is going to take the step of calling for some of these companies to be boycotted, we don't think it's too much to ask that they at least get their research right before they do. So, in the spirit of the holidays, we're happy to help them out. But before we get to those posts, here's a few general things wrong with their list (aside from the fact that the whole point of the list is idiotic to begin with, of course)...

The full list...
Companies FOR "Christmas"
Bass Pro Shops
Bed Bath & Beyond
Best Buy
Big Lots
Collective Brands
Dick's Sporting Goods
Family Dollar
Dollar General
H.E.B. Stores
Harris Teeter Stores
Hobby Lobby
JC Penney
JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts Stores
Michael's Stores
Neiman Marcus
Office Max
Pier One Imports
Rite Aid
Scheels Sporting Goods
Super D Drug Stores
Toys R Us
Wal-Mart/Sam's Club

Companies marginalizing "Christmas"
Bath & Body Works
Dollar Tree
Hy-Vee Stores
Old Navy
Limited Brands
Whole Foods

Companies against "Christmas"
Banana Republic (NEW!)
Barnes & Noble
CVS Pharmacy
Foot Locker
Gap Stores (NEW!)
Hancock Fabrics
L.L. Bean (NEW!)
Office Depot
Radio Shack
Victoria's Secret
Notice how the 'nice' green list is longer than the yellow and red lists combined? It has been our theory that some of the companies on the yellow and red lists are only there to make those lists look longer so the AFA can continue to keep the 'War on 'Happy Holidays' going in order to make some anti-inclusive point.

Notice that they have Limited Brands listed on their yellow list. But then they also have Bath & Body Works in yellow and Victoria's Secret in red, even though Limited Brands is the parent company of both retailers. What's the point of listing the parent company separately in just this one case? (Besides making the list look longer, that is.) They have Old Navy on the yellow list and list Gap Stores and Banana Republic as 'NEW!' additions to the red list (even though they're not new at all, the AFA boycotted them last year and then ended the boycott when they realized that they weren't anti-Christmas after all). All three retailers are owned by parent company Gap, Inc., which is not listed separately. Maybe Limited Brands is just extra super ultra anti-Christmas.

Also on the red list is SUPERVALU, which is a chain of grocery stores... not exactly the first place you're going to turn for your holiday Christmas gift shopping. The same goes for Staples and Office Depot - technically retailers, but unless you're planning on giving your loved ones toner and copy paper, stores like that don't exactly need to be 'Christmas central'.

Then there are companies that aren't actually retailers at all... like NASCAR? Sure they have an online store and merchandise, but they're really a sporting association, not a retailer in the way that Gap is. A brief scan of NASCAR.com's shopping section shows that they haven't ignored Christmas completely:

They're not any less Christmas-friendly than the online stores of the NBA, the NFL,the NHL, Major League Baseball, etc... so why did they get singled out for the list?

It seems like they're just trying to pad the 'bad' lists to make their point, but these ploys only weaken their argument. Since their argument is so weak to begin with, and this obsession with shopping and retailers is so far from what the true meaning of Christmas is supposed to be, this whole exercise just makes the AFA look more ridiculous each year. Christmas is almost here, so stay tuned for a series of AFA Naughty or Nice posts... Happy Holidays!