Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

December 15, 2013

12/15/2013 — Lee Ward: Being reasonable with political correctness

ASHLAND — Although I am a proponent of political correctness, even I believe it goes too far sometimes.

Hallmark, the company best known for making greeting cards, was criticized recently for a Christmas ornament it made in tribute to the ugly Christmas sweater.

When I first heard about this story, I thought, “Good for somebody for standing up to the Hallmark company in defense of ‘ugly’ sweaters. I started wearing ‘ugly’ holiday sweaters back when people thought ugly holiday sweaters were pretty. Besides, when did a green, red, white and gold sweater with ribbons and bells on it suddenly become ugly? It’s a free country and I have the right to wear a sweater without fear of being labeled a fashion doofus.”

Then, I read the full story and realized I was fighting the wrong fight. The good fight, maybe, but the wrong fight.

The criticism with Hallmark with that the sweater, pictured with the column, used lyrics from the song “Deck the Halls,” changing the word “gay” so the phrase read “Don we now our FUN apparel!”

I wondered why the fuss? Critics accused the company of making a political statement by using the word “fun” to replace “gay.” Some commenting on social media said they would never again buy Hallmark merchandise and that the change amounted to the company rewriting Christmas classics in the name of political correctness. Others suggested removing the word “gay” demonstrated a homophobic bias.

Not only do I support political correctness but I support the gay community but, I’ve got to say, this is the dumbest argument since the National Spasmodic Torticollis Association complained the Taco Bell television commerical featuring basketball star Shaquille O’Neal twisting his neck to eat a taco was insensitive to people with a neck ailment. (Most, then and now, had no awareness of spasmodic torticollis, so anything those people would do or say obviously was not aimed at sufferers.)

Hallmark first defended itself and tried to explain the reason for the change in words, but eventually released a statement saying it shouldn’t have changed the lyrics.

“We’ve been surprised at the wide range of reactions expressed about the change of lyrics on this ornament, and we’re sorry to have caused so much concern,” the statement read. “We never intend to offend or make political statements with our products and, in hindsight, we realize we shouldn’t have changed the lyrics on the ornament.”

I disagree. Creative people working on creative projects need to feel free to use words in creative ways.

Just a reminder: the word “gay” still also means “lighthearted” and “fun.”

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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