and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
December #1

Negative comments can't take away from season of goodwill
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, December 3, 2008

Now, with my family's tradition of Christmas beginning on Belsnickle (the eve of St. Nicholas, December 5), I can stop changing the radio station when a precocious carol is playing. I'll even admit to watching "Shrek the Halls" this week.

I dislike the post-Halloween rush into the Christmas season, but now I'm finally ready to order the Croatian walnut bread, put Heart's "A Lovemongers' Christmas" on the CD player, and ask Chip to create my holiday newsletter with a recent photo of me and my grandkids. Chose the one that I look best in; too bad the twins were making faces at the camera.

Before I melt into the golden glow of the season, though, I must do my annual reminder that the proper phrase is not "Peace on earth, goodwill to men" but "Peace on earth to men of goodwill." I'm not going to have a total personality change just because it's Christmas. "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after Justice" is my favorite beatitude.

Justice to me means everyone gets what's coming to him, either soon within our criminal justice system or eventually in his karma. I don't see justice as liberal's beloved "social justice," which Wikipedia defines as the operating principle of "a world which affords individuals and groups fair treatment and an impartial share of the benefits of society."

This definition is under dispute as showing bias and is currently being debated on Wikipedia. I agree with the dissenters that it usually shows bias when one side of a debate is called "the political left" and the other, "the right-wing." It is properly either "political left" and "political right," or "right-wing" and "left-wing."

My favorite Jesus statement has always been the exhortation to cast one's pearls selectively, ignoring those who don't want to get the message. If I took His words to heart, I couldn't write a column, since not everyone who reads it is someone with whom I care to share.

I figured that most readers were potential friends until I recently discovered the feature of this newspaper that allows commentary on line. Whoa! I'm used to editors choosing good letters for the print edition, or producers screening callers on talk radio. While I knew that ''they" the irrational are out there, I didn't think they read newspapers; or could read, for that matter, at all.

I've been enjoying the feature because many commentators make excellent points, get me thinking and looking up responses to their arguments on the Internet, or make me laugh at their often off-beat or sarcastic humor. But there are others whose best composite argument goes something like this: "Hey, Babs, you haven't even graduated from college. Your time has passed and so should Prop. 2. You're over the hill, you Marxist, Hitler, self-appointed windbag/wingnut, phony liar Republican. Why don't you get off your perch in Marblehead where you drink Grey Goose and don't have to smell the vermin of surrounding cities wafting over and destroying your utopian existence?"

Actually, I'm not a Republican, though some of my best friends are; and what is Grey Goose?

My favorite comment, in response to my Shakespearean phrase "the winter of our discontent" referring to the coming political climate, is this non sequitur: "I really feel sorry for you because ... I love winter and spring and summer and fall in Massachusetts." She also pointed out that she makes more money than I do. No doubt, since I'm presently living mostly on Social Security; but does she sit on a perch and drink the Grey Goose thing?

A reporter I know told me he never reads the commentaries in his newspaper: it depresses him to allow nonsense into his consciousness. But it's fun for those of us who are accustomed to having political enemies; Chip usually brings his own aggressive style into the after-column conversation.

I have enjoyed a lifelong focus only on people I like or would like if I met them; it's easy to discount the others who try to annoy on a small scale. Unfortunately, even during the holidays, we can't avoid knowing about real evildoers the terrorists running amok in Mumbai, the genocidal power-mongers in Africa, the drug cartels shooting kids in Tijuana.

Closer to home: More kids shot. And what kind of people trample a store employee on their way to shop for bargains?

And who are these students in the new study who think it's OK to steal from a store or a friend, cheat on a test, lie to save money and then state that they are satisfied with their ethics? Who would shoot a golden retriever? Loot an elderly woman's home that was wrecked by erosion? And that's just this week's news!

The bad guys have always been with us. It's nice that during the holiday season newspapers seek out the stories of nice people doing nice things, to create some "men of goodwill" balance. Good must always outweigh the bad, or civilization would have collapsed by now. Every dollar dropped into the Salvation Army kettle helps!

Time to celebrate Belsnickle, who brings treats to the good children, and coal to the naughty; and with justice for all.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson's
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.