November 08, 2007

Fort Collins' "Holiday Task Force" Recommendations Draw Community Ire

Displays like this could get the axe for being "too Christmas-y"

The inclusive, multicultural/diversity, and bureaucratic approach to the holidays taken up by Fort Collins has led to the ridiculous proposals put forth last week by the 17-member "holiday task force" designated to eliminate Christmas make the city's displays more "educational", drawing the ire of local residents:
"On the display you'll see symbols and recognition and descriptions of all the various traditions that are celebrated here in Fort Collins," said Seth Anthony, a spokesperson for the task force, which included representatives from a variety of secular and religious groups.

What appears to be attracting controversy is another recommendation that would not allow colored lights and other symbols associated with Christmas in other outside public areas.

"The council's intent was to be positive, be expansive, to be more inclusive. I'm not sure why we would want to restrict any aspect of what has been years and years of traditional holiday displays," said Fort Collins Mayor Doug Hutchinson, who has received angry calls from many people, some of whom claim the city is stealing Christmas.

However, those with the task force say its proposal is appropriate.

"We have to be careful that the displays that we have not endorse any particular religion. Putting things in a multicultural context, or an educational context really helps us be very safely on the good side of the First Amendment," said Anthony, who is an ACLU member.

That said, Anthony adds Christmas would not be absent from Fort Collins if the recommendations were to pass. He says they would not prohibit Christmas trees or decorations inside public buildings and businesses would still throw up all sorts of Christmas displays.
I'm sure they'll take care of those glaring omissions next year.

The flimsy reasoning continues:
Though the recommendation's language does not address Christmas trees by name, the consensus among task force members was that Christmas trees would not fall within its recommendations, said Seth Anthony, spokesman for the task force.

"Some symbols, even though the Supreme Court has declared that in many contexts they are secular symbols, often still send a message to some members of the community that they and their traditions are not values and not wanted. We don't want to send that message," Anthony said.

But the Fort Collins museum's display of white lights in trees on its grounds - including an evergreen tree lighted as part of the Downtown Business Association's Community Holiday Tree lighting and Carolfest, could continue under the new recommendation, he said.

The task force also will recommend that the Fort Collins Museum develop a multicultural display of religious and cultural symbols or objects associated with a variety of winter holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Diwali. Such a display could include such objects as a crèche with a star overhead, a menorah or a Kwanzaa kenora, to name a few.

The final decision for what is included in the display, which will likely be outdoors beginning in 2008, would rest with museum staff, Anthony said.

Because the Downtown Development Authority owns Old Town Square, any holiday display policies approved by council would not apply there.

"I expect criticism from people who feel like we are taking Christmas away. And I expect we will get criticism from people who think educational display endorses religions," Anthony said. "(But) to the extent we can, recognizing that offending no one will be impossible, we want to be inclusive."
For anti-Christmas moonbats, excluding Christmas trees = being more inclusive. Nuance. So is the inclusion of Anthony, the ACLU member. How many times were lawsuits mentioned before the rest of the task force finally conceded?

The negative feedback to the mayor of Fort Collins remains strong
Mayor Doug Hutchinson said he was pleased with the proposal that focused on the museum but had questions about other proposals that could limit decorations on the exterior of most city buildings.

Said Hutchinson: "I have had an ocean of input. People are saying that the issue is not religious. It's about a long-standing tradition. The basic intent (of the council) was not to destroy anything. When you do away with Christmas trees, when you are doing away with a tradition that people in Fort Collins hold dear; that is the nerve that was touched."
The holiday task force believes that a museum would provide the proper venue for the dangerous religious symbols:
The Fort Collins Museum would be the focal point of a multicultural winter holiday display under recommendations released Tuesday by a city task force.

In a 10-page document, the Holiday Display Task Force outlined a proposal for an educational, multicultural display outside the museum representing a variety of religious and nonreligious celebrations that take place between Nov. 1 and Jan. 30.

"What the task force tried to accomplish was to craft holiday displays to celebrate our commonality and also to recognize the diversity of winter holidays celebrated by members of the community and to create a festive atmosphere during the winter season," said Seth Anthony, one of the spokesmen for the task force.

Museum staff would design the display. The task force's document included illustrations of symbols as examples of what could be included in the display, including a crèche with a star above, a menorah, a Yule log and a snowflake, among others.
Committee approved "festive atmosphere" to be exact. And just so the religiosity doesn't get out of hand, they included "illustrations" of the permitted symbols. Apparently the Fort Collins Museum staff is either too stupid to know what should belong in a holiday display, or just simply can't be trusted to make their own decisions.

Perhaps another wing could be added to the museum showcasing rights and traditions once enjoyed by Americans before the onset of malignant moonbattery.

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