Friday, November 18, 2005


As the festive season approaches, towns dust off the Christmas lights and prepare to twinkle. In Havant, they haven't. They've decided to have a Festival of Lights [which is a Hindu festival -- "Diwali"] instead, to avoid offending non-Christians. And they're getting rid of Father Christmas and his grotto while they're at it. After a decade in the Hampshire town's Meridian shopping centre, bosses there have evicted him for being too 'tired' and a fire hazard to boot.

Yesterday, the decision to drop Christmas lights was greeted with amazement in a borough where 99.1 per cent of residents are white. Even the leader of Tory-run Havant Borough Council branded it ridiculous. Council leader David Gillett said: "It's Christmas and these are Christmas lights. I don't see any sense in denying this. I can't for the life of me see why people would be offended by this and, to be honest, I don't think anyone is. "It's just a case of political correctness gone absolutely barmy."

The lights cost more than 5,000 pounds and have been paid for by the council and the Havant Business Group, who between them have decided to drop Christmas from the title. The festival will begin on December 2 with a torch-lit procession of schoolchildren through the town centre and a fireworks display.

A Christmas tree will be on display with shoppers invited to join carol singing and visit a Christmas market. Russell Crocker, manager at Boots and deputy chairman of the Havant Business Group, said: "There is an issue about overdoing political correctness here but we are not trying to cancel Christmas. "We want this to be a big boost for the town that will include as many people as possible."

But resident Pushpar Sanderscorr, 47, a Hindu, said there was nothing wrong with Christmas lights in the town. "It is not offensive, quite the opposite. We should celebrate all cultures, including Christian." John Willis, who runs a fruit and vegetable shop in Havant, said the town had failed its customers. "Banning Santa's grotto and dropping the word Christmas is ludicrous. It will make for a miserable Christmas in Havant," he said.

A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: "This sounds like a case of a local council taking it upon itself to decide what is offensive, rather than consult the community it serves. "If the council took the trouble to ask local people what they thought, they would find that people of all faiths do not have a problem with this."

A council spokesman said the festival was the first part of an initiative to "promote the town centre in winter and summer months". He added: "The title Festival of Light reflects the fact that the event will provide a spectacular illuminated display".



You crash your car and it's your fault, right? Not if you are an Hispanic in California! Then it always the fault of someone else or something someone else is responsible for -- or so we are led to believe here:

"Forest workers endure miserable working conditions and wage exploitation. They return to their native countries with hopes of riches dashed. And too often, they return in coffins. The leading killer: Van crashes. The No. 1 cause of death among pineros is van accidents, the destructive byproducts of fatigue, poorly maintained vehicles, lax regulations and workers hungry for jobs".

We're All Victims Now

Critics have noticed that nobody is responsible for anything anymore, since almost everyone is a victim. Here are the top 10 victim stories of 2005:

Children of witches are victimized by Halloween.

Coming to class dressed as a witch on Halloween is a violation of "equitable schools policies," according to the Toronto district school board. The board said it feared "traumatic shock" if children treat "the Christian sexist demonization of pagan religious beliefs as 'fun.' "

British Muslims are victimized by Piglet and piggy banks.

Novelty pig calendars, toys, and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet have been banned in the benefits department at Dudley Council, West Midlands, out of deference to Muslim sensibilities.

Students are victimized by the disappearance of low weekend prices in bars.

Pressured by the University of Wisconsin and a federal campaign against binge drinking, 24 bars near the Madison campus agreed to end cut-rate weekend prices. Three students and a Minneapolis law firm failed to convince a Wisconsin circuit judge that this represented conspiracy and price fixing. But they are suing again in federal court. Legal costs to the bar owners so far: $250,000.

Hit-and-run victim offends police.

A woman struck by a car while standing on a sidewalk in northern England ran afoul of police when she described the errant driver as "fat." "I was given a frosty look and told . . . I could have said lardy, porky, or podgy," said Mary Magilton, 54. "I don't think she was severely reprimanded," said a police spokesman, citing a firm policy of "appropriate language" in police reports.

Fired CBS employee is victimized by Viacom, CBS, vicious bloggers, the panel that investigated her, and a "McCarthyite" panel member who asked if she is a liberal.

Mary Mapes complained last week that people were saying mean things about her and the discredited 60 Minutes II segment she produced about President Bush's military service. She felt "extremely battered" by "having my head kicked around a soccer stadium by much of the western world." No apology, though. For unknown reasons, Mapes's new book is titled Truth and Duty rather than I Messed Up Big Time and I'm Sorry.

Atheists are victimized by religious people.

"The McCarthy era is the last time this climate existed," said beleaguered California atheist Stuart Bechman. The Los Angeles Times said nonbelievers feel stress when a major leaguer points skyward after a hit or when an actor thanks God after winning an Oscar. Some join atheist groups anonymously to avoid harassment. Still, atheist organizations are lobbying in Washington and hope to have at least one presidential candidate court their votes in 2008. Thank God.

Redheads are victimized by cruel jokes and slurs.

New Zealanders with red or ginger hair have organized against hair-color bigotry, founding groups such as the Ginger Revolution and Redheads United. Casual slurs like "gingernuts" cause a lot of hurt, so carrot-topped liberationists want to see a "Love Your Ginger Neighbor" campaign and perhaps a "Be Kind to Gingas Week." Who knows? Maybe even a Redheaded History Month. Chris Irwin, who filed an official complaint last year against a TV ad that made fun of redheads, says red hair color is "part of who I am, and I'm proud of it--as hard as that is in today's society."

Antihooker prejudice fought in Europe.

"Sex workers," the current euphemism for prostitutes, strippers, and lap-dancers, are organizing to end discrimination against their profession. Camille Cabral spoke in Brussels on behalf of the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe. Wearing pink stickers reading "Sluts Unite" and "Whore Power," she called for an end to the stigma associated with paid sexual service.

New Orleans school-bus failure was Bush's fault--maybe Clinton's too.

Why didn't the city use all those empty buses to drive poor people to safety as Hurricane Katrina approached? Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu explained on Fox News: "Mayor Nagin and most mayors in this country have a hard time getting their people to work on a sunny day, let alone getting them out of the city in front of a hurricane . . . it's because this administration and administrations before them do not understand the difficulties . . . In other words, [the Bush] administration did not believe in mass transit."

Public victimized by kitchen-utensil violence.

Doctors writing in the British Medical Journal called for a ban on the sale of long, pointed kitchen knives. Some say the knives are not necessary in food preparation and cited 10 chefs who agreed. Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is unimpressed. "Can sharp-stick control be far behind?" he asked.


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