California Candy Cane Case Headed to Federal Court

California Candy Cane Case Headed to Federal Court

In the waning days of the 2013 Christmas season came the sad story of a six year old first grader who had his candy cane gifts for his classmates taken by his school teacher before he could distribute them. The problem? Attached to each candy cane was a religious themed message.

The teacher took possession of the candy canes once she saw that a religious message was attached. Then, after conferring with the school principal, the teacher told six year old student Isaiah Martinez that “Jesus is not allowed in school” and ripped the message from each candy cane and threw them in the trash while he watched.

She then handed the candy canes back to Isaiah to hand out to his classmates, which he nervously did, fearing he was in trouble for trying to attempting to spread “good tidings” with the class.

The story made national headlines. The issue, Isaiah’s parents and lawyers point out, is free speech. The issue, school officials say, is separation of Church and State. The gifts were from Isaiah, not the school.

Advocates reportedly chose to take on the case, explaining that schools often have a “misunderstanding of the separation between church and state.”

The group sent a letter to the West Covina Unified School District demanding that the school apologize for how Isaiah was treated and adopt a policy prohibiting school officials from discriminating against or intimidating Christian and other religiously-affiliated students.

After conducting an investigation, the school district decided that their actions were warranted, and Superintendent Debra Kaplan released a statement to Los Angeles-area news outlets defending the teacher’s actions. “At the present time, we do not have any reason to believe that the teacher or any other district employee had any intention other than to maintain an appropriate degree of religious neutrality in the classroom and to communicate this to the child in an age-appropriate manner,” Kaplan stated In response, advocates appealed to the school board requesting once again that Isaiah be allowed to hand out the candy canes and that the school board revise its policies.

When the school board also failed to adopt a new policy, Advocates appealed to the California Department of Education but the CDE has not yet responded.

“We shouldn’t be raising our kids to be afraid of expressing their Christian faith,” attorney Robert Tyler told NBC.

“The school has neglected to correct its actions, and after exhausting all options to avoid a lawsuit we were left with no choice but to file a complaint in federal court. We are asking the court to protect Isaiah’s rights and the rights of others like him from having their religious speech censored. Students do not shed their First Amendment rights just because they enter into a classroom.”

This case is very similar to another candy cane case that took place in Plano, Texas more than a decade ago. That case has languished in the courts all these years with various judicial branches split on free speech in schools.

Marshfield Massachusetts Schools Opt Out of Christmas Break

Marshfield Massachusetts Schools Opt Out of Christmas Break

Hearts are not merry in Marshfield, Massachusetts. Despite loud public outcry over changing “Christmas Break” on school calendars to “Holiday Break” the school board by a 3-2 vote made the change anyway. It has been a hot-button issue in the community for several months.

After a debate that was at times somewhat heated, the School Committee voted 3-2 on the name change Tuesday, Sept. 9. Committee members Dennis Scollins and Richard Greer voted against it, favoring the traditional name for the break.

The topic was put on the agenda after a parent emailed Superintendent of Schools Scott Borstel and asked whether the break’s name could be changed to “winter vacation,” noting that the phrase Christmas break was slightly archaic.

Glenn Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, said that changing the name of the break has been happening slowly throughout the state in recent years.

“It’s been a trend over the last several years to secularize the winter break, the same way ‘Spring Break’ used to be ‘Easter Break,'” he said. However, Koocher said it’s generally not a big point of contention, and that his organization doesn’t regularly track which districts make the name change.

“Christmas is the legal name of the holiday,” Koocher noted, adding, “For whatever local reason, people have been making adjustments.”

In his remarks at the School Committee meeting, Scollins also noted that Christmas was a legal name for the holiday and said it was personally important to him to continue calling the break Christmas vacation.

“People are very comfortable with the word Christmas,” he said.

Greer agreed with Scollins, noting that it’s been called Christmas break for a long time and that it was a holiday Marshfield residents had historically celebrated.

Nancy Currie at first said she would vote to stay with Christmas, but changed her mind after hearing Shrand’s points on the matter, including that Shrand’s children had been teased in school for being half Catholic and half Jewish.

Chairwoman Marti Morrison said that from a practical standpoint, it made sense to keep Christmas in the name, since the holiday is the “only reason” that the break takes place at that time. However, she joined Currie and Shrand in voting in favor of the change.

Surveys Show Consumers Not Bothered by Christmas Ads

Surveys Show Consumers Not Bothered by Christmas Ads

creeperFor all the media hoopla about early Christmas displays and the dreaded “Christmas creep” comes this reality check from the cheap seats: people really don’t mind early Christmas advertising or merchandising. According to a poll by Bain and Company last week, more than two-thirds of those surveyed said it was much ado about nothing and that Christmas in September is no bog deal.

The positive responders report that early holiday marketing puts them in a good mood, helps them to avoid procrastination, and gives them helpful ideas. Those most likely to appreciate early promotions include shoppers under 45, those with children in their households, and those with annual incomes under $20,000, who may welcome the chance to spread holiday spending over longer periods.

Retailers prefer to spread out the business for obvious reasons. It creates a less chaotic and more productive shopping environment, leading to higher sales. It minimizes out-of-stock merchandise. It eases the need for extra distribution capacity. It reduces overtime costs, as well as the need to recruit, train, supervise, and then dismiss so many temporary workers and extra security personnel. It lessens the risk that bad weather might keep last-minute customers away from stores or delay deliveries to their homes.

Some psychologists contend that retailers create more harm than good through Christmas creep. They assert that premature holiday marketing violates traditions, diminishes the distinctiveness of the holiday itself, and angers people by making them feel manipulated. But behavioral economists could counter that observed actions reveal more than seemingly persuasive theories. As long as it’s working for enough retailers and customers, early holiday supply and demand will likely trump even the most elegant conjectures and complaints.

Well now. It’s not even October.

Whatever will the media do to occupy themselves between now and Thanksgiving?

Anti-Christmas Protests to Launch Thanksgiving Morning

Anti-Christmas Protests to Launch Thanksgiving Morning

As news begins to trickle in of retailers planning to open in the wee hours of Thanksgiving Day we’re hearing that anti-Christmas protesters are planning to be there, too. It begs the question: Will Thanksgiving Day become the ultimate battleground in the War on Christmas?

The media is already in a tizzy each holiday season over “Christmas creep” — the selling of anything Christmas before Thanksgiving.

But when major retailers shifted Black Friday specials before and after Thanksgiving dinner last year the chorus of anti-Christmas voices blossomed in defense of retail workers forced from their families on Thanksgiving.

Unions organized and in parts of the country Black Friday morning protesters marching against low wages and working on holidays made headlines coast to coast.

Social media campaigns and online petitions were launched to seek out supporters who would not shop those Thanksgiving sales events.

But is all this upset of the shopping frenzy-before-the-feast really about Christmas?

We concur with those critical of retailers capitalizing on Thanksgiving Day. We’re against it. But we don’t blame Christmas. We blame retailers.

Regardless, the anti-Christmas forces of the FFRF and other atheist-driven organizations smell opportunity and will use the abuse of Thanksgiving to preach their anti-Christmas gospel.

DefendChristmas.com has been told that protests and banners this year will bear criticism of Christmas as well as retailers. In their view, none of this madness would be happening if not for Christmas. They will claim the sanctity of home, family and tradition are actually being spoiled by…Christmas.

It is a pretty compelling argument. We wonder where it will lead. And we wonder if it just might be enough to begin to turn the tide against culturally popular secular Christmas traditions such as Christmas shopping.

We can’t help but think a more frugal Christmas would be a good thing for everybody. We can’t help but agree the “rush to buy” is an absurd byproduct of an otherwise cherished season. By embracing an anti-Christmas strategy on Thanksgiving the FFRF just might swell their ranks overall.

Consumerist Calls Christmas a Retail Menace

Consumerist Calls Christmas a Retail Menace

Unreal. Consumerist is out with another ghastly news flash about Hallmark Christmas ornaments for sale now at CVS drug stores. While they acknowledge the fact that Hallmark introduces their new line every July the fact they are now for sale in a drug store is apparently too much for them.

Just what about retail does Consumerist really understand? Are they experts on the topic of retail or not?

Sales of Hallmark social greeting products are greater in drug stores than any other format of retail in the country. Greater than super stores, greater than independent retailers, even greater than Hallmark’s own shops. Upwards of $400/square foot is the average in social greeting products in drug stores. They are a huge market for Hallmark and a big benefit to retailers. Providing those products is what retailers like CVS call “customer service”.

What Consumerist doesn’t realize is that companies like CVS likely operate by contract with Hallmark and are under obligation to sell seasonal products on specific dates. We don’t know for sure but it is a safe assumption this is the case with two big national operations like CVS and Hallmark. They have operated this way for years and guess why? Because it sells. They are a “for profit” business and make no apologies for that.

Hallmark, by the way, has marketed their collectible ornaments in this fashion since the 1970s. In other words, this isn’t the first September Christmas rodeo for CVS and Hallmark. Why is Consumerist upset now to the point where they are calling this a “retail menace”?

Consumerist has long established itself as anti-Christmas. Why, we don’t particularly understand. More sales are generated thanks to Christmas than any other season of the year. It isn’t a short holiday such as Halloween or even back-to-school. It is a season, greater even than summer. Why does Consumerist hate it so much?

Why are they constantly calling out retailers for selling Christmas products at any time?

There are, believe it or not, year round Christmas stores.

There are, believe it or not, bookstores and craft stores that sell Hallmark Christmas items year round. They are collectible. All Consumerist has to do is peruse Ebay for five minutes to see that even ornaments sold last year are re-sold at higher prices by collectors. The year round availability of these items is crucial for collectors, even if that means they have to go to CVS to get it.

Consumerist would be better advised to stop crapping about Christmas creep and start informing consumers of market place realities that affect them. Christmas items on display in September doesn’t hurt a consumer. If they don’t want it, they don’t buy it. Natural market forces control these things and the truth about Christmas creep is that some years Christmas does well in the fall and others it does not.

Why Consumerist thinks this is a trend and why they might think it is bad is beyond an reasonable thinking.

They just hate Christmas.