Infectious Fascism and Someone Else’s Beer

Our local liquor store had been in business since the early 1980s, when the shopping center was built. The original owner passed it along to his 3 sons when he died, many years ago. There was nothing special or fancy about the shop, which had long, wide shelves stocked full of not-too-high-priced wines and liquor that tended to come in the Handle Size. They did a brisk trade in beer, $1 shooters sold out of an empty fish tank on the counter, and “Oh, jeeze! We’re all out of vodka/wine and I’m almost home!” purchases.

It had a coveted corner location on a major intersection with high visibility, and was next to a busy grocery store. The long floor-to-ceiling windows faced due west, which meant high cooling bills as the high altitude sunshine blasted in year round, roasting  the products on the front shelf and raising the temperature unbearably during the summer. A few years ago the Brothers balked at the raising utility prices from keeping the store cold enough to properly store their inventory, and slowly adjusted the thermostat upwards. The heat coupled with storing the wine upright – as one would store a fine vintage Yoo-Hoo – served to spoil their wares.

As if wine bottles that were warm to the touch weren’t enough, over the years the shop developed a nose-curling funk stank from their dogged insistence upon carpet, which served as a 1-way booze sponge when a bottle or case was inevitably broken, and because one of the brothers smoked indoors while doing the books afterhours.  Mmmm… the cheeky bouquet of nicotine braised in sour carpet wine!

We began shopping elsewhere, save for the times we emerged from the adjacent King Soopers, arms full of groceries (yes, we brought our own bags), and too tired or lazy to drive 6 miles round trip for a bottle of wine to go with dinner. Don’t judge me! The cork that crumbles like The Mummy is punishment enough.

Just before Valentine’s Day we found ourselves lacking the fortitude of an additional errand, the grueling 15 minute drive more than either of us could possibly handle, and so found ourselves choosing from wine bottles with dust on them.  I noticed a marked lack of champagne and other bubbly beverages appropriate for a manufactured holiday. “This is weird,” I told my husband, “Why aren’t there cases of cheap champagne stacked 5 high and 2 deep in here? In fact, there’s almost no champagne at all,” I gestured to the picked over front shelf, which was normally full of the boxed wine and cheap champagne that the Brothers counted on their clientele not being able to suss out were treated to daily solar pasteurization. It was a minor curiosity, one I chalked up to a screw up in ordering and went on with my evening.

A few weeks later, before St. Patrick’s Day, it was obvious something was up. The store was still very busy, but their stock had visibly dwindled – the shelves were no longer full, with empty spaces behind the wine and spirits.

“What’s going on?” I asked the young woman who worked there. “Not much,” she replied absentmindedly. “No – I mean ‘What’s going on here?’” She stopped and looked at me in confusion. She really had no idea what I was talking about. I gestured with my arm, “The shelves aren’t fully stocked…” She had a blank look on her face. “Are you guys remodeling? Selling?” Again, the clerk had a blank look, “No…” I left it at that, but told my husband changes were coming.

I wondered if they were going to finally move the stock out of the beating summer sun in the front window… Maybe they were going to set up a Growler station, or a tasting counter – moving forward  with the upwardly mobile neighborhood and appealing to the higher income residents who were replacing the middle income folks that had been a staple of the area when it was built 35 years ago. I had mentally moved the first row of shelves, replaced the nasty carpet with some easy-to-clean wood flooring that would brighten the space up, and show off the better selection of wine they would carry. I couldn’t wait.

At the end of March the only vodka left was bubblegum or peach flavored, the Bourbon shelves were flat-out empty, and most of the decent wine was gone. The Smoking Brother told me they were having distribution problems, but they would be getting a shipment in the following week. What he was telling me didn’t feel right – but I had been doing business with him for 16 years and gave him the benefit of the doubt by allowing him to assure me I wasn’t seeing what I was looking at.

We were gone most of April and upon returning we immediately noticed the barren shelves. Most telling is there was not a whiff of the upcoming drinking holiday Cinco De Mayo: No cut-outs of busty Latinas shucking gag inducing Lime-a-Rita beer, no garish plastic Papel Picado banners stamped with ‘Corona’, or posters of a Sombrero-sporting mustachioed stereotype peddling rot-gut tequila. You know – The Free Crap distributors beg store owners to take and give a price break for the best placement. But, there was still lots of beer – a good deal of it craft beer from start-up breweries & local brew pubs.

Several customers walked in and stopped dead, looking around at the long, mostly-empty shelves. They would do a 180 or full 360 to take it in; most left empty handed. It was clear the store was closing, but no sign indicated a last day or what was going on. I asked the only employee (someone I’d never seen before) what was going on and was answered with ‘Dunno’.

I suddenly realized: They must have sold the liquor license to King Soopers, the grocery store in the same complex. A recent change in the law allowed grocery stores to sell liquor, but only if they buy an existing license. I was happy for them in the distant way you can be when you hear good news from a stranger you’ve known for 15 years: It doesn’t change your life, but it gives you a pleasant feeling.

A few weeks later they were still open – somehow defying retail gravity. Richard walked the empty aisles with a curious expression on his face as he passed islands of bottles neatly arranged – 6 Rieslings here, 4 Moscatos half an aisle later, a lone bottle of gin in the next aisle. What stock was left would have neatly fit in 12 or 15 feet of shelf space, but instead was spread around the empty shop with the fastidious denial of a screamingly bad comb-over.

“When’s the last day?” I asked Morose Brother who spent a decade and a half demanding I show my ID every time I used a credit card. “Before the end of the month,” he answered with his usual dourness. Looking into my eyes he said “We sold the business,” and then spit into his dip cup.  “I… did you sell the license or the business?” “We sold the business and we’ll be closing sometime before the end of the month,” he repeated with a finality that forbade further discussion.

“How could they be selling the business?” I asked Richard when we were in the car, “When there’s no business to sell? I mean… there’s no inventory – and they lease the space. The only thing of value in that store is the license on the wall.” I chalked it up to him being contractually prohibited from discussing the details of the sale.

The very next day the City seized the store for failure to pay Sales & Use Taxes.

A quick call to City Hall revealed that they hadn’t paid a dime of the taxes they’d been collecting since January, and they’d been sending in partial payments for months before that.

It suddenly became clear that the inventory sell down was really them stiffing their suppliers – everyone from Coors to small craft brew companies struggling to make ends meet – and pocketing the money.

They stole not only from their liquor distributors and the city, but from their customers as well, by not submitting tax revenue that keeps schools open, roads paved and a live voice when you dial 911.

In retrospect it was quite obvious what was happening, but I didn’t want to accept the grand theft in front of me, so I provided pretty stories about Growler Stations and wood floors that morphed into them cashing out big by selling the license for a keen profit. None of it made sense to the scene in front of my eyes, but I held on to the fable rather than accept the felony.

I had been performing Olympic-quality mental gymnastics trying to explain away the obvious because the obvious made me uncomfortable.

It was a personal microcosm of what’s happening around the country: How we’re all staring in disbelief at the emerging Fascism around us, willing it to be something else.

We’ve watched fanaticism morph into a Fascist Cult of Personality, yet refuse to name it as such because then we have a REAL problem on our hands.

We’ve heard friends, family and colleagues embrace a man whose beastly policies call for banning Muslims, gutting the EPA, drilling for oil in National Parks and Monuments, building a useless Wall, disenfranchising women, and simultaneously cancelling the insurance policies of 23 million Americans while making it unaffordable for tens of millions more.

These aren’t policy differences on things like how to best fund infrastructure improvements or whether schools should focus more on science and less on the arts. This is the fundamental rejection of the invisible frame of our Social Contract by an alarming number of Americans.

They *like* the idea that ICE officers ate lunch in a café before arresting the kitchen staff.

They’re THRILLED journalists are finally getting the beat down that’s coming to them.

They’re relieved they can stop acting tolerant and want LGBTQ folks to climb back in the closet and for anyone darker than a flat white to know their place.

These people who benefit so much from the Public Commons of Society honestly don’t care if you lose your job, house or insurance – they don’t give a tinker’s damn for anyone who loses their disability, Medicare, Social Security or any other safety net program.

“I DON’T OWE YOU ANYTHING” they shriek like a misunderstood teen, unironically running the Social Contract through Mom & Dad’s shredder after they’ve slammed the office door.

The toughest thing about watching acquaintances and those we love support such heartlessness is when we finally realize they understand fully what they’re doing. It’s much easier to deal with people when we convince ourselves they are ignorantly supporting evil policies, and that if it was properly explained they would be enlightened. Otherwise, we have to accept that an uncomfortably large chunk of America is okay with a semi-literate bully dragging us backwards 6 months for every day he is in office.

Accepting that this is actually happening is a real hurdle. None of wants to stare into *that* abyss and it’s ever so much easier not to court discord and just let sleeping dogs lie.

Please don’t be like me, though, when I watched the local liquor store go under and cheat its vendors, and I chose not to see it because I couldn’t accept the Brothers could do that. Don’t imagine people are constrained by your sense of decency, however well or little you know them.

Once we see the hard truth of Trumpers actions, we have to either accept this Fascist Cult of Personality or fight it. There is no middle ground. When you stop selling yourself on proverbial Growler Stations and wood floors to brighten the place up, you can’t unsee the unsavory and uncomfortable truth that 45’s followers heartily approve of a stratified society that plays out like Lord of the Flies – only, in this story line there are no adults to step in to save the day when things are at their bleakest. There is no higher authority to appeal to, because our current POTUS thinks laws are impractical to follow (his words, not mine).

Make no mistake that we are in dangerous territory with 45’s spreading Fascism, and we ignore it at our own peril.

During the election 45 promised the state sponsored murder of children, he promised to crack down on Freedom of the Press, and he promised to violate the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 14th amendments, as well as end abortion, civil rights, voting rights, marriage equality and the EPA.

When you look at it this way 45 had a spectacularly successful first 100 days, now didn’t he?

Trumpers voted for him *precisely* because he promised to abuse other people and break things. They are the groupies that enable a bully to prevail, and who become emboldened by their support of him.

Trumpers like the chaos, the angst and the destruction they were promised when they voted.

It’s hard to see friends and family infected by Fascism. Worse – when they demand our tolerance while spreading this virulent disease of hate.

But, it is no longer possible to separate the Message from Man or the Masses – they own who they support and his policies, and anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you someone else’s beer.

Dying For Health Insurance

Health Care

There’s nothing like being really sick to remind you of how great it is to have health insurance. The last month has really driven that home for me. Believe me when I say I am glad we are insured. I’m glad I was able to get the help I needed.

Yet, there are people who, even now, would prefer for Americans to go without insurance rather than have any government involvement. What they want is a free market free-for-all.

The world didn’t end when the ACA went into effect. Tens of thousands of people didn’t lose their health insurance, as predicted. The specter of death panels never materialized and, in general, things were better for those who were able to get insurance for the first time.

Then, there are people like me who have preexisting conditions who were precluded from shopping for health plans, and paid exorbitant premiums (try $1,400 per month) for bare bones coverage with outrageous deductables. With the ACA passing we were able to decide what plan worked best for us, and weren’t forced into plans that didn’t offer the coverage we needed.

Americans don’t have the kind of coverage found elsewhere in the world. I remember talking with a roomful of English people about the insurance industry in the United States. They honestly didn’t believe my husband and me when we explained policies, plans, and the ability of an insurance company to raise rates with impunity, and cancel your coverage if you had the audacity to actually use it. They were incredulous when we explained how people went bankrupt from medical bills, but were unable to discharge that debt when they filed. They thought that perhaps we had our facts wrong, and we were met with many skeptical, “Are you sure that’s the way it is?” They thought it was barbaric. (Their words, not mine)

The fact is our health insurance before the ACA was barbaric. The notion that a sick person could be denied benefits and treatment, and then kicked off of their plan for getting ill is brutal and merciless. We as a society deserved better than that, and we got at least a measure more of humanity than existed.

Is it the best system? No. Would I rather see single payer? Of course. But, we do ourselves a disservice when we refuse to accept anything less than perfection, and as a result pass up progress when we don’t get everything we want.

How defeatist to not bother making the world a better place when we know that utopia is not reachable. What kind of spoiled children refuse to play when they find out they can’t be assured an absolute victory?

Rest assured that Republicans, with no plan of their own, would happily kill the act which has provided relief for the uninsured and the previously uninsurable. In the last few years Republicans have tried 56 times to completely repeal or undermine the law. They keep touting the phrase ‘repeal and replace’, but their slogan is as empty as their hearts. They have no plan, but simply want to kick millions off the rolls, with no remedy.

Now the ACA faces a new challenge: The Supreme Court has heard arguments on whether the federal government can provided subsidies for consumers to purchase healthcare coverage in states that did not set up their own health insurance exchanges. The case of King vs. Burwell could very well be what brings down Obamacare.

I am one of those people who will find themselves without insurance should this happen. I will be kicked off, left out in the cold and have nowhere to turn should insurance companies return to their former practices. I have preexisting conditions that no insurance company will want to take the chance on.

The Supreme Court has already voted on this issue, but we will have to wait until June for the decision to be announced. We could find out in 3 months that things will go forward as they are. Or – what worries me so much – we could find out that Obamacare has been overturned.

Then what? Well, to tell the truth I have no idea what I’ll do. I really don’t. I’d like to ask the people who want this program to go away to tell me – in detail – how I am supposed to get the health insurance I desperately need? The sad truth is that most subscribe to the ‘Screw you – I got mine, you get yours’ school of philosophy. They actually feel no compassion for their fellow humans, and don’t really care if someone can’t afford insurance, or is denied it completely because they would use it.

I’m sad that so many in my country doesn’t see health care as being part of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. It’s depressing that virtually every other industrialized nation has better health insurance than we provide our citizens. Having a heart attack shouldn’t bankrupt you, nor should it be an excuse for a heartless corporation to maximize their profits.

So often we are told by politicians that the United States is an exceptional place. It’d sure be nice if we acted like it now and again.

All I can do is cross my fingers and wait until June.

I Pledge Allegiance to Hypocrisy

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“Do you have the courage to spread this around unashamed?

‘I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” I grew up reciting this every morning in school, with my hand on my heart. They no longer do that for fear of offending someone. Let’s see how many Americans will repost without fear of offending someone.’” – Stupid post on FB

Screw. You.

How’s that for not being afraid of offending someone?

Seriously – Screw You.

Tell me where you can’t say the Pledge of Allegiance. Please, feel free to enumerate the number of different school districts that aren’t saying the pledge. I’m waiting.

Most of those with their knickers in a twist don’t realize that the Pledge wasn’t adopted by congress until 1942, and that in 1943 the Supreme Court ruled that no child can be compelled to recite it. Say it again with me: More than 70 years ago the Supreme Court ruled that it is illegal to compel a student to recite the pledge.

According to Pew Research, in the 1943 U.S. Supreme Court decision, West Virginia v. Barnette, Justice Robert Jackson wrote: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.”

But, in case you’re still worried that there’s a problem with the Pledge not being recited, 45 states require schools to have the Pledge recited daily. Only Vermont, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Iowa and Wyoming don’t have an absolute requirement to say the Pledge. Which of course doesn’t mean they’re prohibited from saying it, they’re just not required to take time from classes to do it.

Usually I ask people who post this if their kids are being prohibited from saying the pledge. To date not one person has answered me. Not one person has said that it’s affecting their children. It’s just a good way for them to get wound up and tell themselves that things were ever so much better during our youth. You know, the halcyon days of civil unrest and rampant sexism. Yes, the good old days when women and people of color knew their place.

Yes, no one has ever answered or offered up the name of a school or district that doesn’t allow the pledge, It’s a boogieman for people who post this stuff on their wall. They don’t know where this is happening, but they sure are upset about it.

There’s another thing about the Pledge most people refuse to acknowledge, and that’s the whole ‘under God’ thing. It was not added to the Pledge until 1954 at the height of the cold war. It was a way to show we weren’t Godless communists like the Ruskies. It was an act of bluster and a show of religion which is still being fought over by parents who don’t want God in their Pledge. I happen to agree with them that it violates the separation of church and state. Funny, but the very people who worry that it’s not being said enough are the very people who have no problem with God getting into everything. Mostly because they’re sure it’s their God that’s being represented. Not Yahweh or Buddha or Allah. You know, the real god.

The tempest in a teapot that is the worry over the Pledge not being said is similar to people who get bent out of shape about Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings. It’s not really a problem. They know it. They KNOW it. But they need to have something to feel persecuted about. They need to feel like they’re a victim or a martyr. It feeds their narrative that the country has veered away from what they perceive to be its Godful track. Which of course brings us back to the question: Whose God and what denomination are you comfortable breaking the First Amendment with?

Just in case anyone’s forgotten this: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” It’s the first clause of the first sentence of the first amendment. How much clearer could the Founding Fathers have been? Why is it those God-botherers who insist I practice their religion don’t read the explicit instructions we were given?

There’s one other thing I’d like to know about people who have whipped themselves into a froth about their perception that children are not saying the Pledge of Allegiance every day: Are you saying it every day? If so, why not? I mean, it’s really important, isn’t it? If it’s the way all school children should start their day, shouldn’t you as an adult be doing the same thing? Shouldn’t you lead by example? It seems the country has managed to chug along without having the adult population stand up with their hand over their heart and recite the almighty Pledge.

Because if you’re not doing it, you’re exactly what I suspected: A hypocrite.

A Slow Motion Accident On Ice

Ju suis Charlie 1

Charlie Hebdo.

How many here in the United States knew that name before yesterday?

Now we all know the name and that 12 are dead, and 11 are injured over freedom of the press and freedom of expression at a French satirical newspaper.

I remembered the name from the November 2011 fire-bombing of their offices after they ran a front page cartoon of the prophet Mohammed saying, “100 lashes if you are not dying of laughter,” while at the same time promising the revered religious figure would be the guest editor-in-chief for the next issue. The newspaper set off a fire storm literally and figuratively. It poked fun at all religions and had no sacred cows.

Their offices were burned out then, but the paper continued on.

Charb – the pen-name of the real editor-in-chief and famed cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier – told BBC that Islam could not be excluded from freedom of the press. “If we can poke fun at everything in France, if we can talk about anything in France apart from Islam or the consequences of Islamism, that is annoying.”

Charb was among those killed in yesterday’s attack.

Charb also felt that the 2011 bombing was the work of “idiot extremists” and not French Muslims. Unfortunately the people who shouted, “Allahu Akbar,” and “We have avenged prophet Mohammed,” were in fact home grown terrorists. Of the 3 suspected, 2 are brothers are from Paris and the other 1 is from Reims.

*Note* At the time this was published a Reuters correspondent named them as Said Kouachi, born in 1980, Cherif Kouachi, born in 1982, and Hamyd Mourad, born in 1996. A police source said one of them had been identified by his identity card which had been left in the getaway car.

Time and court will decide if these 3 are the culprits. But it raises the larger question of why and how this could happen, and what kind of people would do this?

The simplest answer is the straight line – the people who would do this hate the notion of others having the freedom to say what they’re thinking, especially if that idea offends them. I hate the fucking freedom card, but there it is in all its glory.

How this could happen? Well, now that’s a longer answer.

Part of that answer is ISIS, who has been around in various iterations since 1999. It is a group that pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda and propped up the insurgency in Iraq. And there’s the problem. The insurgency wouldn’t have existed if we hadn’t invaded a sovereign nation under false pretenses.

The invasion ruined their country and our finances. What a great deal for everyone involved.

The thing is, we went in, toppled a dictator that was no worse than most we deal with, and not as bad as some, and left an absolute vacuum of power when we offed him. That vacuum has led to the rise of the fine folks in ISIS, who want to return us to 10th century rule.

And now that beast is biting us in the ass.

Here’s the thing: It’s not enough to leave the extremists alone anymore and let them fight it out amongst themselves. They’ve brought the fight to Western Civilization. We won’t abandon our right to free speech or the right to practice religion (or not) under any circumstances. It’s the cornerstone of our societies. We swat down those who pretend otherwise. Although, I will admit that our own extremists pretend this is a Christian nation, but thankfully they are mostly overridden.

So, what happens then? It’s like watching a slow motion accident on ice – the cars slide toward each other and there’s no way to stop it. It goes forward and everything crashes together. That’s what’s going to happen here.

ISIS desperately wants a fight, and they’ll get it. They’ve been going at it asymmetrically, and it works for them right now. These things are horrifying and make us feel vulnerable, but ultimately they won’t win. When Western Civilization comes at them it will be with the wrath of technology and well financed nations.

They have neither the resources nor the power to win this round. But, it’s the collateral damage that’s worrying. They know they can’t win, but ISIS is only interested in creating chaos.

How we react is the big question. How are we, as Western Society, going to respond to the attacks and growing hostility from extremists who are not content to live their own lives in their own version of piousness, but instead insist that we live that way, too?

Will we push back against the extremists, or will we push against all Muslims?

I hope for the former and not the latter. We have enough needless hate in the world, we don’t need more. There are plenty enough people to actually fight against that we don’t need to make up more.

The only other thing I can say right now is:

Je suis Charlie

and

Thank you Paris for caring.

Je suis Charlie 2

Torture is the Reason for the Season

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“This man got his head sawed off while he was still alive and you liberal pricks show concern over sleep deprived terrorists and waterboarding?”

How utterly charming.

Nothing says the reason for the season like excusing torture and reducing people you disagree with to vulgarities.

Do people actually think when they post such nasty stuff that others will spring to action to tell that person how right they are? Do they think they’ll be changing any minds?

It’s always interesting to see someone take a proverbial dump on their wall, crow about their viciousness like it’s a virtue, and then sit and wait for the positive affirmations to come rolling in. It’s always satisfying when they don’t get what they’re looking for.

In this case I couldn’t be more thrilled that after a 24 hour period this person had only one other wing-nut agreeing with him. Of course, that person was a 9/11 truther so it added an extra helping of wing-nuttery to the affair.

Did this person think he would win hearts and minds by calling people he disagrees with a prick? Because –personally – I find that nothing makes people listen and to consider my point of view more than name-calling and demeaning them as if you were in Middle School. Yessiree, it just opens the lines of communication.

Yes, it’s amusing to watch a professed Christian who has put up a ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season!’ picture, only to vigorously defend torture a few days later.

Too bad he didn’t take the time to brush up on the Christian operating manual and read as far as Matthew 5:23 “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

Or, he should have headed over to Proverbs 20:22 “Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the LORD, and he will avenge you.”

Perhaps the most important religious admonition comes from Mathew 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” I think this is as simple as it gets. We are not treating others as we would have them treat us. I fear our troops might get treated exactly as we’ve treated others and they will be subjected to rectal feeding and sleep deprivation, with an order of death from hypothermia on the side.

You can argue ifs and buts all day long. The truth is you either follow the Bible and what’s known as the Golden Rule, or you don’t. Religion is not a buffet where you pick and choose what you want. If you support torture you go directly against a fundamental cornerstone of Christianity. There’s really no wiggle room here.

You can’t mouth the words you’re a good Christian and support torture at the same time. Don’t get mad at me – I didn’t make the rules.

So, until you actually practice being the Christian you pretend to be please forgive me if I don’t take you seriously.

Ho Ho Ho! Merry Bill of Rights!!

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“Share and Like if you agree that it’s Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays!!”

Really? All the things in the world to get upset about and you’re going to be offended at someone wishing you a pleasantry of the season that doesn’t specifically recognize your holy day?

Go away and take your phony religious persecution with you.

There are so many reasons people would choose to use the phrase Happy Holidays, and being inclusive is the biggest of them. There’s only one reason for getting offended by it – and that’s because you need to pretend you’re a victim.

Here’s the deal: You’re not being oppressed if someone chooses not to take part in your religion. In fact that’s called freedom and it’s guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

It’s all very well if you’d like to put the Christ back in your Christmas, I’m not standing in between you and the exercising of your religion. That relationship is entirely up to you. If your faith is so weak that you need all those around you to continually reinforce your beliefs then maybe you have some soul-searching to do about your personal relationship with your God.

I say ‘your God’ intentionally because there are other groups celebrating holidays at this time of year that have a different understanding of God than you. Or, are you one of those revisionists who think this whole time of year is devoted strictly to a holiday the Christian religion co-opted from the pagans? Sorry to break it to you, but the Holidays normally start at Thanksgiving (although it could be argued they start at Halloween now) and go through New Year’s Day, unless you’re Catholic, and then you go through Epiphany on January 6.

Why, just in the month of December alone Buddhism observes Bodhi Day, Hinduism has Panch Ganapati, there is Yalda for Paganism, of course Judaism celebrates Hanukkah. Let’s not forget Kwanza, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Some people even celebrate Festivus. And believe it or not – some people don’t celebrate anything at all. All of these people have the right to practice their religion or lack of it in any way they see fit. In fact that notion was so important to the Founding Fathers that the first clause of the first sentence of the first paragraph of the first right enumerated in the Bill of Rights ensures it. To wit: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” it says. Boom. That’s so clear even someone who thinks they’re being persecuted religiously can understand it.

But, for those who only accept the notion that we celebrate Christmas in December I would ask that you please tell me which version of Christianity must I follow for it to be a real and true celebration of the day? Protestant? Catholic? Mormon? Anglican? Southern Baptist or regular Baptist – and if so which Synod? Quaker? Shaker? Methodist? Episcopal? Orthodox? Lutheran? Anglican? Unitarian? Seventh Day Adventist? Fundamental? Evangelical? Pentecostal? I mean, really, which one is truly celebrating the holiday? They can’t all be right, can they?

If you’re one of those who is all inclusive about other forms of Christianity but nothing else, then we have found our religious persecutor. Those who only tolerate other forms of Christianity are the highest forms of hypocrites, and usually they’re yelling the loudest about religious oppression. If you recognize the right for other Christians to practice their faith in their churches, but aren’t willing to be tolerant of any other faiths you are really part of what’s wrong in this country.

You have the right to whatever kind of religion you want to follow. Kindly extend to me that same courtesy. If I choose not to celebrate your religion in your fashion get off my back. It’s not a personal affront to you, so stop acting like it is. Please don’t expect me to celebrate the season or the day as you do.

But really, in the end, this is one of those strictly fabricated non-stories that didn’t exist until our news cycles had to have 24-hours-a-day of outrage and fear fueled controversy that poses as programming (I’m looking at you, Fox News and CNN). The false narrative of a ‘War on Christmas’ has created a problem where none existed. Can you remember Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings ever being a problem until the last decade?

What’s the problem with being more inclusive? What’s the issue with respecting other people’s beliefs and celebrations?

But, most important: Why do so many people not want to allow the religious freedom guaranteed to all of us in the Bill of Rights?