The Christmas displays at the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg has become quite the center of controversy and political statement. That’s too bad. What ever happened to peace on earth, good will towards men? With all due respect for the 1st Amendment Establishment clause, some people are getting out of hand.
First off, to the Rotary Club’s credit, they have pulled out of the mix, withdrawn their application for a display which would have been a Christmas tree.
According to : Leesburg Today
One request that is no longer on the table is the Rotary Club of Leesburg’s Christmas tree that has graced the courthouse lawn for almost 50 years. Club President Ron Rogos confirmed Monday that the club has pulled its application to place a Christmas tree on the courthouse lawn.
Rogos said the Rotary Club Board of Directors made the decision Thursday, Dec. 3, electing to place the tree somewhere else, at a location still to be determined.
“We are a service organization with a long tradition of doing good things. We don’t get involved in policy-making or political decisions; all we are is a service club,” Rogos said. “The best way for us to keep doing what we’re doing is put our tree up and put it up somewhere else.”
Seven requests have been received by Loudoun County since their vote to overturn the ban on all courthouse displays earlier this month that had been implemented by the Courts Grounds and Facilities Committee. Amongst the usual Christmas Tree, interfaith and creche requests are 2 requests that many citizens are very unhappy with. One such request is from Richard Wingrove representing Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin based group for separation of church and state. The request is to display:
…a six-foot mesh banner reading, “At This Season of the Winter Solstice, May Reason Prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural World. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
The above display pales by comparison to the next request from Sugarland Run resident Edward R. Myers. Myers has put together a display that includes a parody of the 12 Days of Christmas:
12 Day of Christmas” song to include “12 master debaters, 11 cunning linguists, 10 percent jobless, 9 niggardly noobs, 8-speech as gay tweets, 7 teabagger tools, 6-ting safety screws, 5 birther-control rings, 4 sucky health care, 3-dom disappearing, 2 many bills and a red FCUK to you too.” The FCUK is the trademark of French Connection United Kingdom.
The point, Myers said Tuesday is to force the Board of Supervisors to stop and think, noting that his signs, which he requested be hung on the fence around the courthouse in time for Saturday’s Leesburg holiday parade, are “like an onion with a number of layers.” In his application, Myers said he wanted his sign hung in celebration of the anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Rights, Dec. 15, which includes the protection of speech.
“I think mixing religion and government together to make a commercial Christmas is idolatry. I wanted to make something that would offend the Board of Supervisors for being so dismissive of the [committee] that thought through this issue so carefully,” he said, “while at the same time having a public display that would not offend children.”
Because, Myers said, it is only what people put into the words themselves that would make anyone construe his signs as obscene.
“It’s a play on words, with an innocent veneer, that people with dirty minds might read into it,” he said, noting, “free speech is kind of a hobby of mine.”
I respect the establishment clause folks until they get outrageous. These requests seem over the top. Too bad it has to be all or none. I see nothing wrong with Christmas trees, wreaths, mennorahs, frosties, sleighs, mistletoe, and holly on public property during this time of year. These are symbols of many holidays. Manger scenes are probably best displayed at churches. That seems more appropriate.
The 2 displays that are causing such contention in Loudoun County certainly explain why the Court Grounds Committee chose to ban all displays. Too bad people can’t exercise good taste. They ruin it for everyone. It might be their legal right to display offensive material but doing so defies wisdom and good taste. Those 2 qualities, unfortunately, cannot be legislated or codified.
Is this the time of year to make a point? Was the Rotary Club taking the high ground to pull out of the fray? Should all displays be banned or should the county be able to use its wisdom to decide what is appropriate and what is not? Will the voters make these supervisors pay at the ballot box next supervisor election cycle?