Sunday, December 02, 2007

MOM!!!, he's looking at me!!!!!

One of my favorite pastimes in my younger days was devising new ways to irritate my little sisters. At one point, my old buddy Stinky Wilmont and I discovered that simply peering at one of them over the back of a school bus seat was enough to set them off. We, of course, were delighted, until one Sunday morning when we were taking the family station wagon to church. I summoned my best staring technique, and proceeded to look at two of my sisters at the same time. I fully expected a swat from the front seat when they screamed in unison, “Mom!!!!!...he’s looking at us!!!!” Instead, our Mother calmly replied, “Well, just ignore him.”

I was crushed that our diabolical plan to drive my sisters stark raving mad could be so easily neutralized, and I worried what effect ‘just ignoring me’ would have on my other methods of aggravation. It turned out to be an effective deterrent against most of our audio and visual taunts, and Stinky and I eventually reverted to catching crawdads as an alternate form of entertainment.

That little piece of advice worked out pretty well for my sisters then, and it has served me quite well since. I also think it would come in handy out at the statehouse right about now. The ACLU is involved in another lawsuit seeking a court order to prevent anybody from opening a legislative session with a prayer. Now, I understand that there are people, both religious and secular, who are opposed to intermixing government and religion. And if anybody attempts to force an unwilling person to pray, we should all join with the ACLU and ask the courts to stop it. But it seems we have become dependent on the courts and the government to shield us from everything that might offend us, and we’re talking about something here that doesn’t require a court order or government intervention of any kind. If a person doesn’t want to participate or listen to a prayer, simply use the time to organize your own thoughts, or get a cup of coffee, or reflect on some lesson you learned from your mother early in life.

I’m not sure when we developed such thin skin. High schools and colleges have changed the names of their team mascots for fear they might offend certain groups of people, usually Native Americans. (Fortunately for my Alma Mater, the animal kingdom is not so touchy about these things.) And if my old buddy Stinky was still in school today, I just imagine he would be subjected to some sort of counseling to help him deal with the possible trauma of having such a nickname.

Americans aren’t the only people that could stand a little toughening up. Recently a teacher in Sudan was sentenced to 15 days in jail for allowing her students to name a teddy bear after a religious leader. And in Australia, Santa has been instructed not to say “Ho, Ho, Ho!”, on the chance that certain professional ladies might take offense.

Now, just so you know, the holiday season is approaching, and if I meet you on the street, I might wish you a Merry Christmas. If that offends you, feel free to ignore me. If it really offends you, and you feel the necessity to chastise me for making such a comment, or if you feel the need to make some unsavory gesture in my direction, that’s alright too. I’ll probably just ignore it.

And just in case I don’t see you in the next couple of weeks, Merry Christmas.

Ho, Ho, Ho.

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