Nasty Yuletide Gifts from Sony

Wouldn't it be nice if the culturati who inundate us with all manner of squalor - moral relativism, gutter language, graphic violence, cheap sex - took a break during the holidays? Is it too rude to ask that those whose apparent life mission is to disturb, to shock and to insult - refrain from their activities during the Christmas season?

Well, yes. Timing is everything in the world of entertainment. Those dedicated to pushing the envelope are now using the birthday of Jesus Christ as target practice. Two recent developments illustrate just how militantly anti-Christian some members of the entertainment community have become. Ironically, and perhaps not coincidentally, one example comes from Columbia Pictures, the other from Columbia Records; both are under the Sony Corporation umbrella.

Scheduled for release two days after Christmas is Columbia Pictures' "The People vs. Larry Flynt" stars actor/provocateur Woody Harrelson. The movie has created a stir (much to the delight of the producers, I assume) by having its proposed poster artwork banned by the Motion Picture Association of America. It featured a picture of Harrelson dressed only in a loincloth made from an American flag, crucified on the gigantic groin of a scantily-clad woman. "I don't feel that [it] was obscene," says director Milos Forman, "it was tasty and funny." Harrelson is even more blunt: "There is no single image you can look at and say, 'That's obscene.'"

This kind of thinking explains why, in the season when we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus, not even the youngest and most vulnerable human life is off-limits. Columbia Records has just issued "Oh Come All Ye Faithful," featuring such rock acts as Bush, Henry Rollins, and Juliana Hatfield. Believe it or not, in the stores alongside traditional holiday recordings by the likes of Andy Williams, you'll find...a Christmas album promoting abortion. (Proceeds go to organizations like Rock for Choice, which believes abortion "should be safe, legal and accessible for all women regardless of age or income.") Just when you think the entertainment industry has hit bottom, the bottom drops out.

"Oh Come All Ye Faithful" certainly won't be a big seller. These benefit efforts seldom are. It's hard to imagine any of its cuts receiving much radio airplay. Its impact on the world of music will be negligible. But none of that is important. This record is a political statement, and an aggressively nasty one at that. It turns the stomach that someone would have the idea for it, that artists would contribute to it, that a huge corporation would release it, that some would buy it, and that others would be thereby enriched. Its very existence speaks volumes about societal decay.

There have been at least four pro-abortion albums since 1992, and the shock value's gone. So what to do to rekindle the controversy? "O Come All Ye Faithful" answers the question by juxtaposing what happened on the first Christmas with the modern horror of abortion. The organizers first conceived an incredibly tasteless concept, then fleshed it out with such in-your-face details as the smutty double entendre in the title and an assertion in the liner notes that legalized abortion is "the most spiritual of gifts."

To complete the package, the album booklet contains an abundance of pro-abortion propaganda. One page includes suggestions for activism ("Call or write lawmakers...tell them to keep their laws off our bodies"; "Read feminist books like 'Backlash' by Susan Faludi") and a coupon for Rock for Choice merchandise (T-shirts, baseball caps, stickers).

Another page has a postcard pre-addressed to Speaker Newt Gingrich asking him to "provide additional resources for clinic protection nationwide and to vigorously carry out an investigation into all violent anti-abortion groups." "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" is dedicated to Shannon Lowney and Leanne Nichols, the Brookline, Mass. clinic employees killed by the late John Salvi two years ago. At a time when carolers sing, "Holy infant, so tender and mild," the blood money from sales of this LP promotes the slaughter of innocent life. Sleep in heavenly peace, indeed.

Imagine, just imagine the reaction from the entertainment community were Columbia to release "What Child Is This?", a Christmas album dedicated to the tens of millions of babies slaughtered since Roe v. Wade, with printed materials urging listeners to read the Bible.

What does one make of a popular culture where the most obnoxious of insults are tolerated, even encouraged, while the most noble of sentiments are deemed wholly unacceptable? This is supposed to be the season when we're our best selves: thoughtful, charitable, compassionate. In that light, the horror of abortion is especially tragic at Christmastime. It used to seem that even pro-choicers tacitly conceded that point. Today they celebrate it.