December 10th, 2006

santa yoda

Interesting holiday dilema...

Now this is an (IMO) interesting holiday article:

Seattle airport removes Christmas trees to avoid lawsuit

Even though the airport's response isn't ideal, it seems like their rationale isn't unreasonable. If they added a menorah to head off a lawsuit by a Jewish rabbi what's to stop any of a number of other groups from suing to fight for the inclusion of a manger scene, or winter solstice display, or a kwanza tribute etc... Then once you have all those up what's to stop the rabbi from suing because he wants nine menorahs etc... Or what's to stop an atheist group from suing to have everything taken down?

Once something is being done under threat of a lawsuit and the airport's lawyers get involved then it seems like their response that the airport should showcase appropriate holiday decorations for all Washington area religions/groups or none doesn't sound unreasonable.

In particular I found this comment thought-provoking: "There is a concern here that the Jewish community will be portrayed as the Grinch."

Because you know, threatening to sue over holiday decorations isn't Grinchly at all. The rabbi certainly has a right to threaten to sue if he sees something lawsuit worthy, but he should recognize and accept that threatening to sue over something can look bad given their response (i.e. "We need to include everyone and we don't have time to design new displays that do this right now").

Now if the rabbi had made his request in previous years and had been ignored then maybe a lawsuit would be in order but given that it was probably a long standing display, hiring a lawyer and threatening to sue over it right now seems antithetical to the holiday spirit whatever your religion... not to mention that while a menorah is strictly religious, you could probably make the argument that there is such a thing as a secular "Christmas" tree because in the US the term "Christmas" can be divorced from any specific denomination or faith (you hear the complaint coming from Christians often, "Christmas is too commercialized" "It's not about Santa it's about Christ" etc...). So it seems like you can have a big tree with lights and bows and strictly secular versions of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus and his elves (pretty sure there weren't any of those in the Bible ;) without getting into any of the "meaning of Christmas" stuff. If they avoid a manger scene, a star on the tree, or angels as decorations, I'm not convinced that a decorated pine tree would have to be considered "Christian" (if anything the tree alone seems more "winter solstice"y than anything else) so only adding a menorah really does seem unfair to all other religions and cultures.

.... but I'm still pondering this one. Any thoughts?

Update: Here's a solution to the airport's problems! A Mountain Dew Tree!
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