Friday, October 22, 2004

Oh, Please...

A school district in Washington state has banned Halloween in the entire district for this year. Surprisingly, it had nothing to do with conservative Christian parents concerned about the pagan origins of the holiday; instead, it had to do with the district's concern that children dressed in traditional witch costumes might be offensive to real witches.

Yes, you read that correctly. Here's what a district official said, in an email dating back to 2000:
"...the Wiccan religion is a bona fide religion under the law, and its followers are entitled to all the protections afforded more mainstream religions. Building administrators should not tolerate such inappropriate stereotyping (images such as Witches on flying brooms, stirring cauldrons, casting spells, or with long noses and pointed hats) and instead address them as you would hurtful stereotypes of any other minority."

I heard a mother from that school district quoted on the news tonight, and she said something to the effect that the minority actually rules in this country on so many occasions, while the majority has no right to do something if it might hurt someone's feelings. Thinking about that gave birth to my rant this evening...

I've been bothered by this whole political correctness thing ever since it first started making news (perhaps because I was born white and male, which makes it impossible for me to ever be PC). We may have Constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but I don't think that last category includes "the right not to have your feelings hurt." To me, that's part of life. You learn to work through it and become a bigger, better person because of the experience. If you're having trouble with that, a monosyllabic response comes to mind: Waaaah. Somebody call them a wambulance, will ya?

The problem with PC is that it takes one of the better pieces of wisdom that most moms give to their kids and turns it totally on its side. I remember the first time I got teased in school; when I came home and complained to Mom about it, she said the old standby: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Political correctness has changed that to "If you hurt me with words, I'll break your bones with sticks and stones." It's definitely been a contributing factor to the nation of whiners and victims that we've seemingly become around here. Another mom in the Washington district worries about a slippery-slope effect if the district gets away with this restriction: "I'm afraid next it will be St Patrick's Day," says parent Katie McCoy. "Can we not wear green? Can I not send cupcakes for my baby's birthday? Where does it end? That is my question."

And you know what? Banning St. Patrick's day would really get my Irish up.

More on this later, no doubt. I'll also tell the tale of the trial; I'm still figuring out a way to get the story across without the parties involved ever accidentally running across it on the Web someday (I'd never use names, but I'm trying to anonymize the whole story as best I can without omitting the truly interesting parts). I'm sure this'll happen over the weekend sometime.

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