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The Pendulum Begins to Swing Back
12/22/2003

Well, what d'ya know... a refreshing editorial from the Providence Journal:

The First Amendment, which supposedly guarantees freedom of speech and religion, has been twisted into guaranteeing the right of any small number of citizens to avoid feeling offended. It's time for the public, and judges, to fight back and reassert freedom -- and common sense.

In Cranston, for example, citizens have put holiday displays on public land around City Hall. They've turned up with an inflatable Santa, an inflatable snowman, and a menorah, to mark Hanukkah. It was when that modern horror of horrors, a Nativity scene, made its appearance -- imagine, the birth of Jesus being linked to Christmas! -- that the American Civil Liberties Union reportedly received three complaints. Three, out of a city of more than 80,000 people.

Is America waking up? I think so. At some point, simple common sense cannot but reassert itself as the majority increasingly finds itself beholden to an irrational and bigoted minority. As the Projo says:

In protecting the freedom of all to worship as they please, we do not need to bring the might of government crashing down on anyone who remembers the message of Hanukkah or recalls that Christmas relates to Jesus. Using government power to obliterate any evidence of religion around a federal holiday -- one that was created out of respect for a religion adhered to by a majority of the population -- violates common sense, and maybe the First Amendment.

Amen.

(Can we start filing lawsuits against the ACLU? Imagine that...)

ADDENDUM:
I'd have never guessed it, but I just heard on the radio that Grace C. Osediacz, who is the central plaintiff, is a middle-school teacher. In other words, one of the 0.00375% of Cranston citizens who object to the display is not only on the public payroll, but is responsible for the education of other people's children. The world shouldn't be such that this fact would be so utterly predictable.

And how's this for ignoring the ironic slug on your nose:

The ACLU also claims that Laffey's policy, which allows him "unbridled discretion to determine what 'appropriate' holiday symbols may be displayed," also violates First Amendment protection of free speech.

Rhode Island ACLU director Steven Brown said, "Something is wrong when a mayor takes it upon himself to decide what are or are not appropriate displays for the celebration of religious holidays. As we have seen time and again, whenever government gets involved in religion, it ends up trivializing it."

In other words, not only is the mayor barred from allowing religious "speech" on public property, but he is barred from disallowing speech that some might consider inappropriate. Gotcha, Mr. Brown.

Reread that last quoted sentence. It's maddening, isn't it? Any argument in an addled brain, I suppose.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 01:57 PM EST