Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Y'know what word for "unspeakably rotten" you don't hear much anymore? "GALLING."

Of all the occupations in this world that can truly be called admirable, I can't imagine many that ought be closer to the top of the list than United States Marine or Children's Charity Worker. So you can imagine that I have a deep, abiding respect and admiration for "Toys For Tots," a Marine Reserves-run program that collects and distributes donated gifts for children in need during the Holidays.

Check them out HERE:
http://www.toysfortots.org/
(and maybe show some donation love while you're at it, eh? Tis the season.)

These people... this program... are good in the plainest, bluntest sense of the word. And anyone who would try to use it for their own ideological agenda, (or worse, for cheap, bad-faith publicity,) anyone who would taint something like this, well... there's a few other words for that.

And, sadly (but predictably,) when it comes to the tainting of the simply good, no force of the modern age is more brazen or more determined than organized religion.

Set faces to stunned:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15717485/

"LOS ANGELES - A company that sells Bible-quoting Jesus dolls said it was surprised and disappointed that the Marine Reserves’ Toys for Tots program turned down its offer to donate 4,000 of the talking dolls."

By the way, "Bible-quoting" is a fairly broad term. Details:

"According to one2believe’s Web site, the button-activated, bearded Jesus doll recites Scripture such as “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.""

The bolding of the text is mine, for emphasis. Get the problem? This doll doesn't only talk, and doesn't only offer "Bible quotes," it proselytizes for a specific version of a specific religion. Do you think that's an appropriate thing for a non-denominational charity to be distributing? If you do, would you object to Richard Dawkins dropping 4,000 "there is no god"-emblazzoned teddy bears into his nearest Toys For Tots bin? If the local chapter of Hezbollah wants to toss in some "Baby's First Burka" kits, are you cool with that, too? Howard Deans wants to kick-in his brand new mascot "Zowie-Howie The Bush-Whackin' Donkey?" Hm?

Here's the Marines' reasoned response:

"Bill Grein, vice president of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, in Quantico, Va., said the offer was turned down because Toys for Tots doesn’t know anything about the religious affiliations of the children who receive its gifts.

“We can’t take a chance on sending a talking Jesus doll to a Jewish family or a Muslim family,” Grein said Tuesday. “Kids want a gift for the holiday season that is fun.”

How much y'wanna bet he said this with an unsubtle hint of "you've got to be f*cking kidding me" to his voice at the idea that his organization even has to respond to something like this.

And by the way, I'm not buying for a second "one2believe" had no idea this was going to be an issue. They're a business, which requires a certain amount of competency and common sense to exist. This was likely, in my estimation, a deliberate, knowing act either to use Toys For Tots to send indoctrination materials to children; or maybe even worse... to use them for a sleazy publicity grab.

Think about that second one: This is a religious organization, which means they probably know at least one, oh, I dunno... CHURCH!? Which tend to have their own ties to very powerful and well-organized charities? Ones that could garauntee that these Christian toys reached Christian children (or at least don't have the ethical objections otherwise that Toys For Tots does?) So why go to the trouble of wrapping up 4,000 dolls for a secular charity which common sense would dictate MIGHT have an issue with them?

Could it be that they knew (or at least were pretty certain, this MUST have come up before) that the donation would be refused and did it purely for the media attention on them and their movement that this would innevitably garner? Hm? After all, it makes a catchy headline, even my local news carried the story. And it's garaunteed to gin-up the "They're takin' the Christ outta Christmas!!!" contingent, so don't be surprised if you see this as a "special report" from Bill O'Reilly as part of his asinine "War on Christmas" bitching.

If anyone from "one2believe" is reading this, let me be clear: There's two possibilities, neither of them good. Either you really did have no clue this would be a problem, in which case you are unbelievably dense and deserve to be ridiculed for it...

...OR you knew exactly what you were doing, in which case you tried to use a charitable organization run by the United States Marines to (one way or another) propagandize on behalf of your agenda, in which case you deserve far worse than ridicule. I happen to believe that at least ONE of those dolls you made is based on a real person, and if I know anything at all about Him, He is not thrilled with you right now.

Merry Christmas.