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Monday, December 04, 2006

City saves us from ... ?

By Dennis Byrne
Chicago Tribune

Good thing that they're keeping a film about Christmas out of a Christmas festival on Daley Plaza.

Christians, Jews and Muslims already have elbowed their way onto the plaza with a creche, menorah and crescent and, worst of all, a huge Christmas tree, symbols of their religions. Shouldn't that be enough? If Chicago were to allow showings of "The Nativity Story" film clips during Christkindlmarket, what would be next?

Nature-worshiping Druids? Allow them onto the plaza and they might want to poison us with the sight of an oak tree, one of nature's creations that they venerate. The Falun Gong also might show up, with their offensive meditating. Who knows, they might even try to cash in by selling books on the benefits of reflection. As we all know, no one should be able to use the government or its property to profit personally. In Chicago, we have strictly enforced rules against that kind of behavior.

Covens of Wicca also might invade the plaza, wanting to practice their magical powers by stirring boiling pots of eels and frogs. Or we might have to step around unsightly piles of dead chickens left scattered about by careless adherents of the Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye.

If we're not careful, the Inquisition might demand use of the plaza for a few autos-da-fe, to weed out the heretics. The plaza could become another Piazza della Signoria, always available for hanging and burning a Savonarola or two.

Chicago Bulls center Ben Wallace might show up in a headband.

You might think that this is an exaggeration, but if the city gave an inch now, all sorts of oddballs, cranks, crackpots and fanatics soon would be invading the plaza. Oh sure, for standing up to the horror of a Christmas scene on the plaza, the city got scalded by those right-wing religious zealots for its so-called attack on Christmas. Under this unfair onslaught, no wonder the city said it had been misunderstood. As it said later, its intent was only to keep "blatant commercial messages" off the plaza.

Well, that's as good as any excuse, and if you want to believe it, that's fine by me, because the effect was the same: shielding the public from the vulgar scenes of a mother and child.

Actually, I think that the city might be on to something. Christmas has become so commercialized with its retail sales frenzies that any Christmas message is, indeed, a commercial message. So maybe it all should be banned from the plaza--Christmas trees, creches, the "festive" trappings. Even Macy's Christmas lights that are visible from the plaza should be extinguished. It's all designed to make someone a buck anyway.

Of course, the summer farmers market also would have to be banned from the plaza, because folks are making money off that too. While we're at it, we might as well take away the flowers, benches and the Picasso Thing. Make the plaza the lifeless, sterile place that it was intended to be in the first place. Suitable only for celebratory gatherings of all the payrollers, insiders, grafters and other serpents who feed off the taxpayers. If the plaza can hold them all.

I'm just grateful--I won't offend you by saying to Whom--that the city's exclusionary actions on the plaza have provided more evidence that we've all come to appreciate the true meaning of diversity. To foster our diverse society, we must not allow anything that reminds us of our differences, especially if that reminder comes in a public place, and most especially if it is about religion. Exposing people to different religions, let alone religion in general, will give them the wrong idea; they might end up thinking that we're different. How can we be a diverse society with folks walking around thinking they're different?

Let us pause for a moment, in the silent night of a new winter, as we are comforted by a blanket of new-fallen snow, to use this joyous and hopeful season to renew our commitment to diversity. And what better way to do it than by stomping out any public recognition of our differences?

Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

1 comment:

Mama Kelly said...

I could've done without the reference to Wiccans and their "pots of eels and frogs" despite realizing that you were going for the sarcasm effect.

"Let us pause for a moment, in the silent night of a new winter, as we are comforted by a blanket of new-fallen snow, to use this joyous and hopeful season to renew our commitment to diversity."

To this line at least I say a hearty "hear hear". If only we could all gather together in a spirit of acceptance and community without feeling attacked by anothers religious expression.

Blessings to you and yours, regardless of which holiday you celebrate or to whom you utter gratitude.

Mama Kelly
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