Sunday, December 21, 2003

Abercrombie deserves a big lump of coal

It's only a matter of time before we see Santa's picture on a wall at the Post Office: "Wanted, by the ACLU, for crimes against the people.'' If the lawyers from the Left Pole get their way, there will be a subpoena in every stocking and a slap in the face under every twig of mistletoe.

In Baldwin, Kan. this year, the ACLU kicked Santa out of an elementary school because he asked the kids what Christmas was all about and one spoke the taboo J-word, "The birth of Jesus.''

The Indiana University Law School replaced a Christmas tree with a generic winter scene after a few students complained that even an agnostic evergreen was too religious.

And in Elizabeth, Col., the ACLU threatened to sue a school to block Christmas celebrations, including that subversive sleighing song, "Jingle Bells."

It makes you wonder: When will Santa bring America a new backbone to stand up to the ACLU bullies? If we take these cases to court, the ACLU usually loses, just as Cincinnati's Grinch lost his lawsuit to outlaw Christmas holidays.

What it is about the spirit of giving and love that scares the fruitcake out of the ACLU?

Do the good guys ever get to win?

Well, yes. This Christmas, sales at Abercrombie & Fitch are falling through a hole in the ice. Stock prices sank 14 percent, and sales plunged 13 percent, the Wall Street Journal says.

It couldn't happen to a nicer company.

Fitch, headquartered near Columbus in New Albany, Ohio, has exploited teens for years with its pricey "in-crowd'' label - for those who could afford it. Its annual "magalog'' catalog has included sex techniques from a porn star, student-teacher sex, an S&M Santa and "creative'' cocktails such as "Orgasm'' and "Dirty Girl Scout Cookie.''

This year, the company was accused of publishing another wave of sexually explicit ads.

And that was enough for Citizens for Community Values.

The Cincinnati group known as CCV, which often gets mocked for moralizing, ran ads in USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, saying: "Some corporations dump toxic chemicals into our rivers, others spit poison toxins into the air. Then there's Abercrombie & Fitch - flooding today's youth market with an overdose of sex and self-gratification, all in the name of shareholder profit.''

Let's lift an eggnog toast to CCV and Cincinnati, for daring to say what many parents were already thinking. Is it really so much to ask for minimal standards of decency?

The ad says, "Abercrombie actually marketed thong underwear to pre-teens as young as 10 years old, imprinted with lurid adult expressions like 'Eye Candy' and 'Wink, Wink.' "

It adds, "Consider the cultural fallout: More than half of all new AIDS infections come from their same target market. Add to that some 2,700 teenagers who become pregnant each day in America, while 15.3 million new cases of STD infections occur every year. And ... rape committed by teenage males as young as 14 is now at an all-time high.''

Focus on the Family, based in Colorado, launched similar national ad attacks on Abercrombie this week, adding another $200,000 to the $125,000 spent by CCV. (To learn more, go to

"Most people have been shocked,'' said CCV President Phil Burress. "They had no idea Abercrombie is so aggressive with the exploitation of kids.''

On Dec. 10, Abercrombie yanked their offensive catalog.

I think Santa would be glad.



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Kenneth E. Clarke, priest