Monday, December 14, 2009

Government Gets Involved in Christmas

In my third novel, Tuey's Course, I introduce readers to the character of WeWildapheet Ulisees O'Tweety, a man who is better known as Tuey. When pitted against the power-hungry members of the local government, Tuey finds that his efforts to run his small business are thwarted at every turn. As the book reaches its conclusion, the readers will find that Tuey will go to great lengths to achieve the justice he believes he deserves from the officials at city hall.

How many of you have been frustrated with a local law that did not seem to serve any purpose other than to inconvenience those affected by it? I have written about some examples of such laws on this blog before. I decided to revisit the idea with a focus on our current holiday season. I did some research to find any ordinances that are associated with Christmas. Not surprisingly, elected officials from across our country have put restrictions on how we choose to celebrate.

Who remembers when the small town of Kensington, Maryland made national news for banning Santa from the annual tree-lighting ceremony? When the popular figure was deemed too religious by the city council, dozens of people dressed as St. Nick and showed up to make quite the visual statement.

Earlier this year, a federal Court of Appeals heard a case about a Philadelphia school district's decision to ban Christmas carols, even when the music was played without words.

Two years ago, a task force in Fort Collins, Colorado recommended that red and green lights be banned because the colors have too much of a religious undertone. Instead, only white lights placed on secular objects would be allowed.

Every year around this time, we read about the battles that are occurring in city halls across the country. Should there be a Christmas tree or a holiday tree? What about wreaths hanging off the front of cars? Can a nativity scene be displayed on public property?

Are any of these debates taking place in your town? What do you think about this level of government involvement? I hope you will share your thoughts on this controversial topic.

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