Christian Group Causes Dick’s to Shrink Over “Christmas”

November 24, 2010 | Posted by Enrique

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers. Now that this phase of the holidays is almost over with, it’s time to anticipate/dread yet another Christmas morning in America. Of the many traditions that characterize this season, one that never fails to delight is values voters complaining about the phrase “happy holidays.” Some folks just go mad if you don’t say “Merry Christmas.”

There’s an outfit called the American Family Association that gets its jollies by rating retailers based on their use of the word “Christmas” in advertising. The AFA went so far as to call for a boycott of Dick’s Sporting Goods for “snubbing Christmas.” Would you believe these yahoos actually got Dick’s to go all limp wobbly?

The story so far…

I was listening to my local conservative talk show guy Jay Weber this morning, and this AFA/Dick’s situation was his final segment. Weber was ecstatic over the AFA’s intimidation of a private business. Weber’s actually an above-average host as far as I’m concerned, but he was just giddy about the AFA threatening a boycott over the phrase “happy holidays.”

Weber complained about a halcyon time when too many corporations “sanitized” Christmas out of their seasonal advertising, but also acknowledged that values voters had essentially won this battle. According to AFA’s goofy-ass rankings, only a handful of national retailers are “against” Christmas anymore.

Mission accomplished

According to the AFA’s website, they are “one of the largest and most effective pro-family organizations in the country with over two million online supporters.” While we may ponder exactly what defines an online supporter, it would be hard to argue the AFA isn’t effective.

Last week, the AFA published an awkwardly-designed chart of how various national retail chains use the word “Christmas” in public communications. They even have a green/yellow/red color-coding system so you can home right in on those filthy red bastards. On a lark, the AFA decided to target Dick’s for special sanction, because “no retailer in the nation has appeared to go out of its way to snub ‘Christmas’ more than Dick’s.” They called for a nationwide boycott of Dick’s, and they even went so far as to whip up an amusing graphic, which I kinda sorta like.

The name of the file is dicks_small.jpg

Tee-hee! In a surprising turn of events, Dick’s decided to incorporate the word “Christmas” into its website copy, apparently to appease the AFA. Here’s an excerpt from their very, um, interestingly-worded press release about the change in Dick’s heart:

The American Family Association has for years been waging a campaign against major retailers who have dropped “Christmas” from their seasonal advertising.

Last Friday, less than 24 hours after the AFA announced a boycott of Dick’s Sporting Goods for its use of “holiday” rather than “Christmas” in its promotional materials, the company capitulated.

AFA’s Action Alert, calling for a boycott through Christmas, went out to its 2.3 million member network on Thursday afternoon. Network members were urged to contact Dick’s corporate offices to let the company’s president know of their displeasure at Dick’s disregard for Christmas.

By 10:30 Friday morning, Dick’s executives had telephoned AFA with a white flag of surrender.

Dick’s vice-chairman, Bill Columbo, called AFA on Friday morning to let AFA know that the company will begin using “Christmas” in its newspaper inserts, on its website and in its television commercials beginning November 28.

As a consequence of Dick’s surrender, AFA has called off its boycott.

Jesus, Columbo, sack up. If you figure there’s no harm in using “Christmas,” fair enough, but why did you have to cal the AFA and “surrender?” You could just as easily have sent an e-mail, or even better, you could have started using “Christmas” without telling the AFA at all. Well Columbo, I hope all AFA followers come out and give Dick’s a substantial boost in holiday revenue. Otherwise, you let them tell the world you’re a giant pussy for no good reason. Capitulate.

As of this writing, these are the seven companies considered hostile to Christmas by the AFA:

Barnes & Noble
CVS Pharmacy
Office Depot
Radio Shack
Victoria’s Secret

If it offends your conscience that these firms are not enthusiastic about celebrating the birth of Christ’s unending love, then by all means, shop at Wal-Mart like the rest us. On the other hand, if you prefer to patronize establishments that take a more inclusive approach to their commercial messaging, you can thank the AFA for putting together a handy list.

If there’s one useful lesson from the Bush years (which were a long damn time ago now), it’s that a losing war can be successfully prolonged with a surge. For supporters of “happy holidays,” now may be time to consider a surge of our own. Dick’s could certainly have used a surge. If we won’t surge for Dick’s, what will we surge for? (Tee-hee!)


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