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December 20, 2007

From East to West It Passed Away (Or Not)

UPDATE: Well, that was short-lived. A commenter at my other blog pointed out that the SWOSU homepage is decked out with Christmas cheer.

Also, Ed Morrissey followed up with a phone call to the AG's office and discovered that this story is untrue.

UPDATE: I'm putting this at the top because early callers to the AG's office claims this isn't true, and they are wishing people a Merry Christmas when greeting callers. So I called there myself, and spoke with Emily Lang, spokesperson for the AG. Ms Lang confirms that they are greeting callers with "Merry Christmas" as a means of refuting this story. AG Edmundson did not issue this order, she insists; they are checking with assistant AGs to see if the advisory ever existed at all. At any rate, the AG does not believe state workers should refrain from Christmas greetings.

Ms. Lang wants people to know that they have a Christmas tree in the office, and hopes everyone has a Merry Christmas.

So I was punked. My apologies for getting anyone riled up. And anyone who disregarded my "be polite" advice regarding emails to David Misak may owe him an apology.

Original Post is still here, just tucked below the fold:

This is irritating to see on my own state. Southwest Oklahoma State University (pronounced swa-sue), acting on advice from Attorney General Drew Edmondson has banned the use of the word "Christmas" by employees.

John Misak, the Director of Human Resources, recently visited various university departments and employee groups and informed everyone that any decorations featuring the word "Christmas" in any work or public areas of the university must be immediately removed. He also instructed everyone to discontinue the use of the term "Christmas" in their speech while on the job. This censorship specifically includes exchanging greetings of "Merry Christmas" among employees or with nonemployees, whether initiated by a nonuniversity employee or not. Christmas remains a legal holiday for state employees, including those at SWOSU.

There is so much wrong with this, it's hard to know where to begin. First, Liberty Counsel, the advocacy group which sent out the notice linked above, says that the rule runs afoul of the First Amendment because it singles out one religion for especially poor treatment and it limits the employees' freedom of expression.

Second, if it's good for SWOSU, why isn't the rule good enough for OSU and that other Oklahoma school? I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that those schools get much more of their funding, especially for the athletics programs, from donors. Donors who might be displeased to hear that Christmas has been banned.

Third, the rule, or rather it's complete failure in the workplace, promotes scorn for rules in general and the law in Oklahoma in particular. It's not like the secretaries are going to stop writing "Christmas" in their calenders. And does anyone expect them to actually stop telling each other "Merry Christmas" here in the belt-buckle of the Bible Belt?

I'd really like to see a copy of the "legal advice" that Edmondson sent to SWOSU.

Correction Needed? Moron-commenter Muslihoon points me to this contact page for SWOSU which has a David Misak listed as the HR Director, not John as in the quoted release. My apologies for unfairly maligning any John Misaks who happen to be out there in blogworld.

Also, if you've really got the itch to email him a "Merry Christmas" message, be polite. Someone who has the official title "Human Resources Director & Affirmative Action Officer" probably gets enough hatemail already.

digg this
posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:57 PM

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