Recently a New Hampshire woman heard the ringing bell of the Salvation Army Santa outside the Portsmouth jewelry shop where she works — and called the police. Sarah Hamilton-Parker has reportedly complained to the Salvation Army every year for the past four years about the incessant bell ringing she is subjected to during the holidays. By her calculations, at 40 hours of ringing per week, she listens to 200 hours of Salvation Army bell ringing each year, and it’s too much, “I’ve looked for every reason to make it go away,” she said. “I’ve got two sets of earplugs — one for me and one for my employee. I have my earplugs on for five weeks. It’s just ridiculous.” The bell ringers remain, and police don’t want to arrest them because they have permission from the city for the annual charity Kettle drive, that goes back to 1891. The unwanted negative publicity has motivated the local chapter of the Salvation Army to find a quieter bell. Hamilton-Parker said she appreciates it, adding, “Anything they can do to knock down that sound.”
In Little Rock, Arkansas, students at the Terry Elementary school were invited to a performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas, based on the Peanuts animated classic that noted the commercialization of Christmas and tried to remind viewers of the original message of the Christian holiday. Teachers informed the parents about the field trip, according to Pamela Smith, communications director for the Little Rock School District, “Because it will be held at a church, as some public events often are, a letter was sent home with students so parents who took exception and wished to have their children remain at school could do so.” No parents so far have complained to the school, but one parent seems to have complained to the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, motto: “Are you good without god? Hey, so are we!” The group’s attorney, Anne Orsi, told reporters that a show with religious content performed at a religious venue blurs the constitutionally guaranteed division of church and state, and that the only reason no one else has complained is that they are afraid. In fact according to Orsi the parents that contacted the group, “are reluctant to speak up because they are concerned about their kids being singled out and bullied.” Since this is not a mandatory trip, the school says there really is no controversy.
And finally the animal rights group PETA has written President Obama demanding that he skip the annual turkey pardon, a White House tradition that goes back to President Lincoln, who pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey at the request of his son, sparing it’s life. Even though the pardon saves the life of a turkey, the letter states that the ritual makes light of the slaughter of 46 million turkeys, implies that as a species they deserve it, and makes the president look like he’s in cahoots with the “turkey-killing industry.” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk states in the letter that, “You understand so well that African-Americans, women, and members of the LGBT community have been poorly served throughout history, and now I am asking you to consider other living beings who are ridiculed, belittled, and treated as if their sentience, feelings, and very natures count for nothing.” The letter suggests a new White House tradition: tofurkey.
It looks as though the President, who in 2009 joked that the turkey really was saved “thanks to the intervention of Malia and Sasha — because I was ready to eat this sucker,” is not about to comply with their demmands, “I’m told Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson actually ate their turkeys,” Obama said. “You can’t fault them for that; that’s a good-looking bird.”