Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, and Merry [CENSORED]

Martha Throebeck on Saturday, December 22, 2001

from the feliz-[redacted] dept.

CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Mrs. Ermine Gerblasten, a third-grade teacher at Zalma Schroeder Elementary School, had been warned at a "culture sensitivity seminar" last month not to say those words. She had been warned that those words might offend those who hold non-Christian beliefs. She had been trained to utter only "content-neutral tidings of general applicability".

But she still said "Merry Christmas" during her class's Holiday Celebration Not Endorsing Any Particular Religious Viewpoint party earlier in the week.

As a result, the teacher, and the class, received an unwelcome visit from the C.N.P. (Content-Neutrality Police). Within 10 minutes of her uttering those verboten words, a team of five C.N.P. agents in black suits stormed into the classroom unannounced.

"We've received intelligence that an offensive phrase may have been spoken in this classroom," said the senior agent in a stern voice. Is this so?"

The visibly shaken teacher could only respond, "You mean 'Merry Christmas'?"

"Don't say that word! I can't hear you! La la la la la!" exclaimed one C.N.P. deputy while pretending to cover his ears.

"Children, if that phrase offended you in any way because of your religious, social, or political viewpoint, please accept our humble apologies -- unless you happen to subscribe to a worldview in which apologizing is considered cowardly, in which case disregard my previous statement," said the senior agent to the frightened and bewildered third-graders.

It was at this point that one of the C.N.P. troopers noticed something amiss hanging on the wall. "I see a drawing of a Chri... er, Holiday Tree," he said. "And I see a drawing of Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, and/or The Person That Some Believe Brings Gifts On The Morning Of December 25th, Assuming You Believe In The Gregorian Calendar. However, I don't see any symbols of Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Native American, or other religious belief systems. According to the rules, for every two Christian items each school must display at least one secular item and/or at least one non-Christian religious item."

The teacher was standing at the brink of insanity. She roared back, "What the hell are you talking about?"

One agent quickly responded, "You meant to say 'What the Hell And/Or Other Evil Place That You May Or May Not Believe In are you talking about?'"

"I can't take it anymore!" Mrs. Gerblasten screamed as she raced out the door heading for the superintendent's office to fill out a resignation form.

The school was unable to find an available substitute teacher who had completed the cultural sensitivity training.

"We simply can't let an untrained sub in here at this time of year," said one of the agents. "He or she might accidentally blurt out 'Merry Christmas' or do something equally offensive and culturally-biased."

In the end, one of the agents stayed behind to watch the kids for the remainder of the day while the rest of the C.N.P. squad hurried to East Lane Middle School in Jackson to investigate "a possible 207 in progress" (showing a movie and/or TV show in which Christmas plays a significant role but does not acknowledge other non-Christian religious beliefs). For the record, the show in question was "A Charlie Brown Christmas".

At press time we have yet to receive word on the whereabouts of Mrs. Gerblasten although one unconfirmed source claimed she was spotted getting drunk at a local tavern while yelling "Merry Christmas!" and "God Bless America!" at everyone.