“Frosty the Snowman” and human rights

Doesn’t the Convention Against Torture mean we don’t have to hear that song? Especially before Thanksgiving?

Heard it today while changing planes in Houston.  Even if having to hear that song isn’t covered by the Convention Against Torture, surely there’s a substantive Due Process claim about having to hear it before Thanksgiving.  I hope you will all agree with me that Something Should Be Done.

And not to get to Bill O’Reilly here, but the problem isn’t Christmas music.  They’re welcome to play Adeste Fideles and Good King Wenceslaus and the Gower Wassail and Gaudete and even God Rest Ye Merry as often as they like,  The problem is secularized “holiday” music.  “Frosty” isn’t even the worst of the lot; that dubious honor goes to Jingle Bell Rock.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

24 thoughts on ““Frosty the Snowman” and human rights”

  1. The only justification for claiming "Jingle Bell Rock" as the worst secular Christmas song is that you must never have had to listen to "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer." It must be a northern thing.

  2. As w/ a lot of these things, the lyrics are actually vaguely sinister. A shame Bob Dylan didn't think to include it on his Christmas album.

  3. I'll listen to a hundred "Jingle Bell Rocks" if you promise me I never have to listen to another one of those songs that are lists of presents. ("Here Comes Santa Claus," "I'm Gettin' Nuttin" … that stuff.) I'll accept a "Two Front Teeth" once a year or so on the grounds that it's actually about a present the cute little kidling wants to *give* somebody.

  4. A shopping mall I worked in ran the same forty minute loop from Thanksgiving to New Years. I though I would lose my mind. Perry Como, Andy Williams and Bing Crosby are on the top of my hit list and I don't mean "The Hit Parade" kind. Somehow I can still listen to Karen Carpenter.

  5. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree. Worse, even in August, without being able to blame it on any commercial establishment, I've had phrases from it knocking around in my head and been unabl

  6. Perhaps it's just the warm feeling of a slight edge of alienation speaking (only slight — too much is actually, well, alienating). Kind of like that cozy, nostalgiac Christmas Eve feeling at the local Chinese restaurant. But the really good secular American Christmas songs — "White Christmas", "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", etc. — I love them.

  7. Mark: "…surely there’s a substantive Due Process claim about having to hear it before Thanksgiving. I hope you will all agree with me that Something Should Be Done."

    I agree. I figure in a couple of years that music will start on Labor Day, to fuel Labor Day sales.

  8. Scrooge bait.

    Frosty's a kids song. Musically it is shallow and catchy, filled with silly flourishes. But it's deeper than that – it's lyrics are about seasonal change and entropy. It's about love and loss and renewal. It's a whole lot deeper than most of what ends up being played on the radio. It's secular but transcendent, with an eye toward existence that goes to the essence of what spirituality has always been about.

  9. Hey at least with public places you are able to leave the area to escape the auditory torture. My toddler is learning Christmas songs in school right now for a winter show his school is organizing. He sings them all. the. time. I cannot escape it.

  10. I remain unconvinced, and will frimly maintain that "Here Comes Santa Claus" played by animated bears is the single worst piece of Christmas music. (Yes, I once worked a Christmas season in a mall, just down the hall from the bears. How did you guess?)

  11. I agree with the sentiment on the early and repetitive songs, but must object to Mark's dig at "Jingle Bell Rock". Having been 10 years old when the original by Bobby Helms was put out in 1957+/-, I have fond memories of it. Bobby Helms was a Hoosier who had other country hits and a rising career when he gave it all up to care for his children when his wife was instituionalized. Now the horrid covers of this song are another story.

  12. You're barking up the wrong tree here, Mark. I'd much rather hear the vapid "Frosty" than what Stevie Nicks did to "Silent Night."

  13. "Jauchzet, Frohlocket…"

    A lot of the lyrics of contemporary xmas songs are, as Suzii says, kinda creepy. Either cupidity creepy or suggestive creepy or authoritarian creepy. Hmm.

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