Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Periodic diversity rant

What is it about this one that, year after year, seems to elude so many editors who really, really ought to be able to read a calendar by now?

At right, you'll find an Austin centerpiece. Here's how the Freep handled it Monday (in a 1A rail otherwise dominated by three references to St. Patrick's Day):
It's an early
Holy Week for
Christians

The general offensiveness-and-cluelessness prize, as usual, goes to Fox:

Easter is Sunday, much earlier than usual this year, and many people are scratching their heads. (Hint: Shampoo.) Isn't it still cold out? (Colder than it was Saturday. Heard that happens at this latitude.) Didn't we just celebrate Christmas? (Yes, three months ago. Still finding occasional brain cells in the carpet. And you?)

Well, "we" might have. And palms might have reminded "us" of something. But a problem with declaring what "we" do or expect or are reminded of is that it doesn't just define who "we" are. It defines who doesn't qualify -- who isn't among the elect readers the newspaper wants to address itself to. And that's ... anybody who isn't reminded that Easter is upon us!

Which could just be those damn heathens and Democrats and communists, whose lurid gaze isn't the sort of thing our advertisers want sullying their products anyway.* In this case, though, it's also a significant part of the Christian world. It's not an early Holy Week, and Easter isn't "soon," if you and your Orthodox friends and relatives are planning to celebrate Easter right on schedule at the end of next month.

You wonder how editors keep missing this one. Do they not get curious about what goes on in those cool old buildings when the natives aren't having festivals of Greek food and dancing? Do they just not get past the listings for northern and southern Wiccan observances on those calendars of world religion? Do they wonder if something interesting is up with those people who listen to the Ukrainian broadcasts on "America's Ethnic Superstation"?

"It’s a scientific thing," FOX News religion analyst Father Jonathan Morris said. "Easter is always based on the Hebrew tradition of being able to detect a day for the celebration of Passover."

At Fox, you never have to worry about calling sources who might say something complicated or inconvenient. You can just call your own commentators! (Somebody might want to remind Comrade Morris that waiting on the moon for your spring festival is a matter of "tradition," not "science." But we digress).

The Christian calendar generally mirrors the Jewish one, and Passover and Easter are usually very close together. But that isn't always the case because of the Christian calendar's strict adherence to the lunar cycle.

You'd like to think one benefit of having a religion commentator on staff is that he/she/them/whoever would remind you that there is no "the" Christian calendar.

Faithful Christians aren't the only ones having to adjust to the fast-approaching Easter holiday.

That ought to put those Orthodox mumblers and their funny alphabets in their place. (Wonder how many words there are in Greek for "pinheaded reporter.")

That famous bunny that hides eggs and brings chocolates to children around the world in a symbolic tradition commemorating the start of spring had to be extra organized this year, too.

Forget flood. Interview bunny.

It could be worse. In 1818, Easter arrived on the earliest possible day: March 22.

Whoa. We've established that the Western Christian Easter is coming early this year. Who decided that was bad?

All right, enough of that. There's still time to go forth and defuse this one. Anybody with a confirmed kill or a probable, sign in and claim credit below.

* Is it?

2 Comments:

Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Ummm. It is spring. There are flowers and baby birds already.

But if it's such a horrible thing that Easter is coming early for some folks, take it up with the Pope.

My translation class had problems with articles in which Putin reminded Merkel that Russia was celebrating Carnival last week... "But it's Easter!" Ummm, no. Not in Russia.

5:54 AM, March 19, 2008  
Blogger fev said...

Yeah, we have baby birds too -- and three inches of snow in the alleged forecast for Friday. Grr.

It'd be nice if reporters got over this collective urge to cast basic descriptive numbers as good news or bad news. I'm really not interested in what sort of weather reporters like. I want to know if it's going to rain.

1:36 PM, March 20, 2008  

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