For the three of you unfamiliar with it, “Festivus” is a pop-culture holiday created by writer Dan O’Keefe in an episode of Seinfeld as an alternative to the commercialism of Christmas. The tradition of Festivus — an actual holiday started by O’Keefe’s father when O’Keefe was a child — includes “Airing of Grievances,” “Feats of Strength,” and the labeling of easily explainable events as “Festivus miracles.”
It also includes a Festivus pole, which is to be made of unadorned aluminum, like for instance, beer cans. Chez Stevens, a man who considers himself a militant atheist, erected a Festivus pole this week made out of Pasbt Blue Ribbon cans, and set it near a nativity scene on a privately funded state house rotunda in Tallahassee, Florida in order to protest what he considers a failure of Florida to recognize the separation of church and state.
Fox News, specifically Gretchen Carlson, was outraged, because of course she was. “Why do I have to drive around with my kids,” she argued, “to look for Nativity scenes and be like, ‘Oh yeah, kids. There’s baby Jesus behind the Festivus pole made out of beer cans?’” (Perhaps, while driving around to look for Nativity scenes, Carlson might want to start with THE CHURCHES).
Anyway, Mother Jones contacted Dan O’Keefe, who had not yet heard about this “controversy” to get his opinion on the matter. He pretty much nails it:
“Am I to understand that some humanoid expressed outrage that the baby Jesus was behind a pole made of beer cans? … Both displays have equal right to be there. But, you know, the Fox News outrage machine kicked into high gear, and I’m sure there were some hair-sprayed talking heads bobbing up and down, being outraged about it.”
“Look, I’m looking at a Christmas tree right now, and no pole made of beer cans is going to come into my house and knock it down, at least that I’m aware of,” he says. “I don’t think it has the Mordor-like, sinister political significance that’s being attributed to it by right-wing talking heads…It’s a manufactured news event. The intention of the newscast is to feed the false War on Christmas narrative that is everywhere.”
But does O’Keefe agree with Stevens’ argument that the Tallahassee nativity scene violates the separation of church and state? Well, not really—but he’s still lightly cheering him on.
“If it’s not publicly funded, I don’t see it as violating the separation of church and state, but at the same time I could see why someone would want to counter [anything that seems like] state embrace of any specific religion,” he says. “So good for him.”
True story: When I was a kid, we couldn’t afford a Christmas tree every year, but for some reason, we had spare mannequin parts lying around our house, and each year, we would decorate a set of mannequin legs (hanging ornaments from the stockings) and put Santa hats on the mannequin heads, which was my family’s way of being festive. That doesn’t really have anything to do with the above story, but it’s a weirdly fond memory. It was sort of the poor man’s Festivus — not really a protest against the commercialism of Christmas, but a reflection of our inability to participate in the commercialism of Christmas.
The point is: Fox News is dumb.
(Source: Mother Jones)