Friday, November 16, 2007

Open Letter to the Holiday Display Task Force

This is too crazy to pass up. There are those out there who still don’t think there are concerted efforts across the country to rid Christmas of all Christian overtones. Here we have another example of absolute goofiness by a city council just 2 hours north of here.

And so far, the prize for trampling on First Amendment rights goes to Fort Collins, Colo., which is considering banning red and green lights from city property because they might be linked to religion.

The city's Holiday Display Task Force soon will make recommendations to the City Council on a policy that allows only white lights and "secular" symbols such as icicles, snowflakes and unadorned greenery.

I love that touch: Holiday Display Task Force. What kind of training and special qualifications does it take to make it onto the Holiday Display Task Force? What is boot camp like for these lovers of everything Scrooge? Do you need to have a signed copy of The God Delusion?

Apparently you can be discriminated against based on red/green colorblindness. In fact, I would like to submit an open letter to the Supreme Director of the Fort Collins, Colorado Holiday Display Task Force:

Dear Sirs and/or Madams—

I applaud your sense of civic duty and willingness to volunteer your time in what is doubtless one of the great struggles of our time: the color of Christmas lights. My personal delight at your efforts is marred only by the unfortunate geographical reality that I am not within your fine Municipality’s taxing district so that I could revel in the fact that the next time I purchase a Hitchens book, a percentage of my cost would support your valiant cause.

Nonetheless, I am mildly concerned about my personal prospects of being admitted into your fine Task Force in the future (if I felt I had what it takes to join your superlative ranks). You see, red/green colorblindness runs in our family. I, personally, do not have a severe case, but am worried nonetheless. Additionally, my nephew certainly does have red/green colorblindness, and I am concerned that he might feel discriminated against if your Task Force focuses only on red and green lights. What did he ever do to you to be excluded from your Holiday Display Task Force like that?

There are a lot of lights out there, like orange, blue, white, blinking (which might discriminate against me because of my migraine headaches), those kind that change colors when you plug them in, purple, and many more. Maybe your Holiday Display Task Force might consider expanding their color and variation considerations so I (and the dozens in my position) might not feel so left out.

Thank you for your gracious consideration, and God-speed!

Fighting for the Cause-

Phil

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hilarious! I too would enjoy joining the ranks of this elite "Task Force." Maybe they'll be holding tryouts soon...

Brian B said...

My goodness. Who knew that red and green were specifically Christian colors? Wouldn't want anyone to make that blindingly obvious connection between a bit of red and green, and the State's clear support for the Christian religion above all others. Mm-hmm.

So, obviously, this constitutes a good example of a flagrantly ridiculous reading of the "establishment" clause. But I do wonder what people think would be "over the line" in terms of church/state co-mingling. I don't mean equally ridiculous violations in the other extreme (e.g. forcing all citizens to offer prayers to the Christian God on Christmas). I mean: what, in your view, would be the kinds of things that would be just over that line?

Sometimes when I think about these issues, I try to imagine an America with the same First Amendment, but in which our culture, history, and leadership were broadly, say, Muslim or Hindu in origin and orientation. In that kind of America, what would I then take to be a violation of the kind of separation between church and state that the "establishment clause" in the First Amendment seeks to maintain? If my public tax dollars were used to put up various decorations in public places that to me seemed clearly Muslim or Hindu, would (should) that be enough to make me think that the State was supporting that religion in a manner opposed to the kind of separation between state and religion envisioned by the Framers? I don't know - thoughts?

Eric "the" Lind said...

I actually had similar thoughts concerning the "what if" of the founders being Muslim or Hindu. Interestingly, while I was in India, they don't seem to care. I mean, on a Hindu or Muslim holiday, people take to the streets and pretty much shut cities down and the non-members really don't seem to get uppity about it.

Phil Steiger said...

Very interesting thoughts...must formulate...

OPM said...

One of my favorite Christmas quotes (seems fitting to me):

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!' --Dave Barry, "Christmas Shopping: A Survivor's Guide"

Brian B said...

Eric - is the "shutting down of cities" and other celebratory activity that you observed something that the federal government pays for with public funds, or otherwise "officially" endorses? Or just something that people do privately on their own?