Salem, Virginia – A Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centre in Salem has issued a notice banning the phrase ‘Happy Holidays’ during the current December and January period.
Last year, the Salem VA Medical Centre become embroiled in a controversy after they banned not only the phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ but also other Christian speech and celebrations. This was after a number of complaints about the ‘overly religious and offensive’ decorations which had previously been hung around the various work areas. This year, a successful counter complaint has been made by one employee in what can only be described as unusual circumstances.
Mr Jeffrey Wells, an employee with the Department for over 16 years, decided to complain after one particularly buoyant Atheist wished him ‘Happy Holidays’ no less than 10 times in one day early in December. In Mr Wells official complaint he stated that “Due to cutbacks in staff, and increased workloads, I have been forced to work on Christmas day for the last few years, so it has never really been a holiday for me, or at least not a happy one”. He continued, “While I didn’t really like people wishing me a Merry Christmas as I don’t really celebrate it, the phrase ‘Happy Holidays’ makes even less sense to me and my situation. In fact, given the difficulties that I have had in trying to get some time off, I found it quite offensive.”
Due to the controversy from last year, the Head of the Department claims he was left with no alternative and that the only fair and equitable solution was to ban all of the phrases relating to this period of the year. While the phrase ‘Season greetings’ had been suggested as an alternative, Mr Wells refused, saying that it still implied that it was a time to look forward to, the complete opposite of his own situation.
For those at the Medical Centre who are taking some time off, there is still quite a lot of confusion as to how they are supposed to bid each other farewell. The only suggestion that has been agreed upon so far is a silent handshake. As negotiations are still underway, the Department has declined to comment further.