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Report All Inappropriate Christmas Decorations to the Proper Authorities

At the University of Minnesota, wrapped gifts could get you on the naughty list.

The University of Minnesota has distributed guidelines on how to celebrate the holidays in the most inclusive, bias-free way possible. They've gone a bit overboard in the process, unless you think there's something innately Christian about bells or the color red.

The guidelines—composed by the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences' Diversity and Inclusion Office—ask that students and faculty respect "the diversity of the University community" by hosting "neutral-themed parties such as a 'winter celebration.'" Lest there be any confusion over which decorations are sufficiently generic, the document includes a list of items and images that are "not appropriate" because they represent "specific religious iconography."

That includes the obvious candidates, such nativity scenes, menorahs, and angels. It includes semi-secular symbols, such as Santa Claus. And it includes some items whose religious content is hard to discern at all: red and green decorations ("representative of the Christian tradition"), blue and silver decorations (too Jewish), bows, bells, or wrapped gifts.

If you encounter one of these examples of "religious iconography," you are encouraged to reach out to the University of Minnesota's Bias Incident Website or contact its office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

Karl Lorenz, director of diversity programs at the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, stresses to Reason that the guidelines are strictly voluntary.

"The bullet points are offered for consideration," says Lorenz. "They are not mandates."

Because of that voluntary nature, most of the guidelines do not raise constitutional issues, according Ari Cohn of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The university, he says, can "argue convincingly that parties put on by their units are university speech and it has the right to control the message." He does find troubling the guidelines' instructions that individuals restrict "expressions of their religious faith" to their own personal space, a measure he says is overly broad.

But while Cohn thinks the guidelines are largely legal, they also strike him as "rather ham-fisted and overly cautious."

Indeed, while I have no doubt that the university is sincere about wanting to encourage diversity and inclusion, this push for bland and generic events could have the opposite effect. The university is encouraging faculty and students not to celebrate campus diversity but to suppress any sign of it.

For more analysis of "winter celebrations," watch Kennedy's show on Fox Business tonight at 8:00 p.m., when Reason's Robby Soave will discuss the story in depth.

Photo Credit: Ken Wolter/Dreamstime

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  • Don't look at me.||

    Diversity is so last week.

  • Illocust||

    So why would anyone choose to throw a holiday party at all under these restrictions? Course that might be there point in the restrictions. Save cash by discouraging anyone from doing anything.

  • CE||

    Do they even know where the "holi" in "holiday" comes from?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Holi is a Hindu spring festival celebrated in India and Nepal, also known as the "festival of colours" or the "festival of love". The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships.
  • Rhywun||

    What's a Hindu?

    /university student

  • Pro Libertate||

    A white person.

  • Holmes IV||

    No. Well, yes, but misrepresenting the word.

    Holiday started in 1500s (haliday c 1200) from Old English. Halig (Holy) + dæg (Day).

    The term "Holiday" began in 14c meant both religious festival as well as a day off of work or dedicated to recreation.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's from Sanskrit. I defy you to prove me wrong.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "That includes the obvious candidates, such nativity scenes, menorahs, and angels. It includes semi-secular symbols, such as Santa Claus. And it includes some items whose religious content is hard to discern at all: red and green decorations ("representative of the Christian tradition"), blue and silver decorations (too Jewish), bows, bells, or wrapped gifts."
    Taking all the fun stuff for the sake of possibly offending someone during the religious or secular Santa holiday period.

    This is what colleges are teaching kids.

    We are doomed!

  • Rhywun||

    semi-secular symbols, such as Santa Claus

    I read that as "semi-circular". Because who the hell has need of a word like "semi-secular"?!

  • SKR||

    Why? Those religions are stupid and everyone should just avoid them.

  • Juice||

    I'm not a Christian and I don't even celebrate Christmas (no, really), but lately I've been noticing certain people giving me the "Happy Holidays" and when they say it, it comes out sounding like a little test. Will he be offended? Will he reply with a curt "Merry Christmas"? Hey, tell me Happy Holidays. I don't care. But if it really is some sort of test, that's just lame, man. I don't know I could be imagining it.

  • ||

    "Merry Christmas!" works the same way, along with 'Have a Blessed Day!"

    Tribalists gonna tribal.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Yep, the best response to both is a hearty 'hail satan'.

  • ||

  • Rat on a train||

    Festivus

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    I know a priest who used to be a lawyer; his sermons sound like a closing argument for God.

    Anyway, we are all descended from Druids and animists. Christmas was originally as you point out "Yuletide" or a desperate celebration of equinox in which they took a wagon wheel and put candles on it in the hope of bringing the sun back into their lives. The origin of the Advent wreath we use today. The early European Christians appropriated the existing pagan holidays and called them Christmas and Easter.

  • SKR||

    There's no equinox in December. I think you mean solstice.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Why would you wish a Santa tsunami on people?

  • BearOdinson||

    God Yule!

    From you friendly neighborhood Germanic neopagan who is preparing to celebrate the winter solstice!

  • Conchfritters||

    Tack!

  • Robert||

    I see more trend lately to celebrate Yule at a more traditional time, January. That gets it farther away from Winter Nights, although closer to Imbolc, which nobody celebrates.

  • Juice||

    Oh yeah, when I was in Nashville and asked someone how they were doing sometimes I'd get, "I'm blessed."

    I'd usually say, "that good, huh?" It's just a thing people would say, but I don't like giving canned replies to canned sayings.

  • sarcasmic||

    I was raised Christian but became an atheist at some point on the road of life. However this whole "Happy Holidays" in the name of "tolerance" makes me want to slap someone. If someone wants to wish me a happy holiday with the name of the actual holiday then good for them. They think they are doing something nice. It isn't out of malice. Fuck these politically correct assholes. They are the malicious ones.

  • Juice||

    Well, how many holidays are there right about now? Ok, there's Hanukkah, but that's a really minor holiday for a small minority of people. Then there's Kwanzaa, which no one actually celebrates. So that leaves the elephant in the room, Christmas, the biggest holiday for the majority religion in this country that's basically a secular holiday for everyone else. So what time of year is it? It's Christmas time.

    "Happy Holidays"

  • sarcasmic||

    I had a Jewish girlfriend a while back and I humored her by lighting candles. Never known anyone who recognized Kwanzaa.

    Merry fucking Christmas. Asshole.

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    IO Saturnalia!!

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    I like it as a generic solstice / year end greeting. Yes, it ultimately means Christmas, but the idea that it's a time with multiple holidays makes it sound coooooler.

  • ||

    As an atheist can you explain how, without a sky daddy, New Years became a holiday to in your religion? I mean it's a point on a circle, ellipse, or line no different than any other point, right?

    /sarc

    Timely and relevant!

  • sarcasmic||

    I have the xkcd app on my phone. I did especially like that one.

  • Robert||

    There's that bar where they celebrate New Year every midnight.

  • Leader Desslok||

    As an atheist can you explain how, without a sky daddy, New Years became a holiday to in your religion?

    Simple, we all worship the one true god, the all mighty dollar.

  • Rhywun||

    Yeah, I've never felt that I've been "tested" like this. Not to mention that out here in the real world where we actually have tolerance and diversity, if I or anyone around me wishes someone to enjoy the "wrong" holiday, we just smile and brush it off or even make a joke of it. Because that is how it works in the real world.

  • sarcasmic||

    People are so much nicer in the real world than when they are empowered by intolerant assholes in the name of tolerance. Amazing.

  • cgr2727||

    If someone wants to wish me a happy holiday with the name of the actual holiday then good for them.

    I like that. I'm going to go around on the fourth of July or the first Monday in September telling everybody "happy holidays," by the same logic they use around Christmas. Also because I'm an asshole.

  • sarcasmic||

    lol

  • GroundTruth||

    +1

  • Robert||

    Is "season's greetings" even more passe?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Happy Winter Solstice!

  • BearOdinson||

    And god Yule to you too!

  • SKR||

    I would much rather celebrate the Winter Solstice, at least it is a real phenomenon.

  • CE||

    Minnesota? Don't they have to melt all the snow then? Won't it offend someone if they have a white Christmas?

  • ||

    "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" doesn't sound so innocuous, anymore. . .

  • Rhywun||

    You joke, but there are articles out there that don't. "Jingle Bells" is racist, too.

  • SKR||

    Especially against Batman.

  • Rockabilly||

    "The bullet points are offered for consideration," says Lorenz. "They are not mandates."

    bullet points - today

    mandates/woman-dates/non-binary dates = tomorrow. !!!

    On Ward Comrades !!!!

  • Ecoli||

    Real bullets tomorrow. They are trying to make a point here.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    To quote the Chairman, from the barrel of a gun.

  • JWatts||

    "The bullet points are offered for consideration," says Lorenz. "They are not mandates.""

    No, there's no need to make it a mandate. Obviously nobody who doesn't follow the bullet points is getting a job teaching. So, it's a self correcting problem.

  • creefer||

    Just bullet points for consideration, but we encourage people to report you to the intolerant tolerance police.

  • CE||

    The university is encouraging faculty and students not to celebrate campus diversity but to suppress any sign of it.

    I think you're on to something here.

  • ||

    The guidelines—composed by the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences' Diversity and Inclusion Office—ask that students and faculty respect "the diversity of the University community" by hosting "neutral-themed parties such as a 'winter celebration.'"

    And what about those suffering from cheimatophobia and frigophobia?

    Screw those a-holes in the "Diversity and Inclusion Office" and their temperature privilege.

  • Ken Hagler||

    It would be amusing if someone went around reporting recycling bins as "religious iconography."

  • Holmes IV||

    This is brilliant.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Likewise solar panels and windmills.

  • ||

    composed by the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences' Diversity and Inclusion Office

    OK, this actually makes sense. This isn't Berkeley's Department Of Ethnic And Women's Studies Diversity and Inclusion Office. This is Minnesota's College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. It's a homeopathic remedy to the malady of Diversity and Inclusion. Take a toxic dose of whatever policies they have at Berkeley or Columbia or Harvard and dilute the fuck out of it.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    I take that to mean that *every* college at UM has an office of diversity

    Which is what happens when you sell people on 'free' college.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...respect "the diversity of the University community" by hosting "neutral-themed parties such as a 'winter celebration.'"

    So for all those identifying as being from the Southern Hemisphere, a big FUCK YOU.

  • ||

    So for all those identifying as being from the Southern Hemisphere, a big FUCK YOU.

    That isn't implied by the phrase "Minnesota University"?

  • kV||

    the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences' Diversity and Inclusion Office

    So does this mean that each (or at least most) of the 18 colleges within the university has its own "Diversity and Inclusion Office"? I think I might know why the tuition is so damn high.

  • Rhywun||

    This.

  • ||

    So does this mean that each (or at least most) of the 18 colleges within the university has its own "Diversity and Inclusion Office"? I think I might know why the tuition is so damn high.

    The camel would've held out if not for those 18 pieces of straw.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    composed by the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences' Diversity and Inclusion Office

    *facepalm*

  • Mickey Rat||

    Obviously those people do not have enough real work to do.

  • Ron||

    so If your a christian you must hide your religious values that is not very inclusive or diverse of the university. if someone is offended by religious themes at parties then they do not have to attend them. of course with this type of minimalizing of symbols such that there becomes no religion, part of the goal I think, no one will learn about othes cultures, again so much for diversity why not have everyone walk around in the same cloths while we are at it.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Yes, grey button up jackets and carry a little red book.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    *You're

  • Brandybuck||

    My first Christmas card of the season was given to me by a religious Hindu. And it was a very religious Christian card. A very nice guy. Would crawl on broken glass for him. People of different backgrounds and religions can get along, if we just let them. Fuck these universities and their hate-isms.

  • sarcasmic||

    That doesn't surprise me. The few people of that faith I have met had class. At least as far as respect for the beliefs of others. And they tended to eat some really fucking good food. If dude ever offers you a meal, TAKE IT!

  • Rhywun||

    Pot-luck lunches here in my IT office are amazing.

  • Eidde||

    "If you encounter one of these examples of "religious iconography," you are encouraged to reach out to the University of Minnesota's Bias Incident Website or contact its office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

    "Karl Lorenz, director of diversity programs at the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, stresses to Reason that the guidelines are strictly voluntary."

    I don't see how those two paragraphs can both be true.

  • JWatts||

    So, we're supposed to believe something that's reported to the " Bias Incident Website" isn't mandatory. LOL, sure.

  • Mickey Rat||

    It would be legally problematic for us to say it was not voluntary...but you'd had better adhere to these guidelines if you know what's good for you.

  • zeitguest||

    Sure, I'll be at the party with bells on.

    OH NO WHAT HAVE I SAID

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    God Fucking Damn it. MINNESOTA IS ALWAYS TRASH IN THE NEWS... and my alma mater... Fuuuuuck me.

  • Eidde||

    To be fair to your alma mater, stories about administrative staff messing with Christmas are more "sexy" than stories about the science faculty discovering a new whatsis.

  • Conchfritters||

    I take it there will be no more Al Franken hot dish contest in the Senate anymore?

  • Hunthjof||

    "red and green decorations ("representative of the Christian tradition")"

    OFFS! Maybe the Goobernuggets running the diversity center there should check their iconography. Red and Green is not really Christian in fact it is mostly Pagan from the Yuletide tradition. Yes Christians adopted those symbols into their celebrations but they are hardly representative of just the Christmas tradition.

  • SKR||

    Christians ruin everything

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Well it's obviously cultural appropriation so Pagans might be offended.

  • GroundTruth||

    Merry Christmas, fellow Reasonoids!

  • GroundTruth||

    Happy Hannukah, fellow Reasonoids!

  • GroundTruth||

    Happy Solstice, fellow Reasonoids!

  • GroundTruth||

    Did I miss anyone?

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    You know who else didn't miss anyone?

  • KerryW||

    Annie Oakley?

  • AFSlade||

    How is it 'inclusive' to - ahem - 'suggest' that people report on anyone who uses 'religious iconography'? Isn't it the exact opposite of 'inclusive'? Or do definitions not matter at U of M?

    What a complete fucking lie. This is nothing more than religious persecution. Period.

    Inclusiveness would mean everyone can do whatever the hell they want. Snitching to the Red and Green (and blue and white) Gestapo because you're feelings are hurt by 'religious iconography' is 100% religious persecution. But it's A-Okay to target Christians and Jews now, I guess.

  • Bra Ket||

    The point is the exercise itself. They want everyone to play along with the narrative that muslims/Jews/atheists are repressed minorities and America must struggle to overcome it's theocratic roots.

  • croaker||

    I wonder how the University would like losing all federal funding?

  • Derp-o-Matic 6000||

    1 - Cut a hole in a box
    2 - Put your dick in the box
    3 - Make her open the box

  • Ship of Theseus||

    And that's the way you do it.

  • DaveM54||

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