December 11, 2006

Lawsuits for the Holidays

In a move that should surprise no one, in light of a threatened lawsuit, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has taken down its Christmas trees instead of adding a giant menorah to the display. While this could certainly be viewed as a defeatist reaction, I think the analysis by the airport spokeswoman really cuts to the heart of the matter:

"After consulting with lawyers, port staff believed that adding the menorah would have required adding symbols for other religions and cultures in the Northwest. The holidays are the busiest season at the airport," Betancourt said, "and staff didn’t have time to play cultural anthropologists."

As much as it reeks of stupidity, the business of a city isn't to get embroiled in frivolous lawsuits over religious expression. That said, I find the response of the lawsuit-happy rabbi to be somewhat disingenuous: “Everyone should have their spirit of the holiday. For many people the trees are the spirit of the holidays, and adding a menorah adds light to the season."

I would totally agree with that, if it weren't that the menorah were being proposed with the threat of a lawsuit. The attempts at self-exculpation on the part of the rabbi's lawyer are particularly humorous to me: “They’ve darkened the hall instead of turning the lights up,” said Bogomilsky’s lawyer, Harvey Grad. “There is a concern here that the Jewish community will be portrayed as the Grinch.”

I, for one, think the Jewish community ought to be disgusted with Rabbi Bogomilsky and his lawyer. Whenever you resort to threatening lawsuits over something silly like putting up a religious symbol (especially when you note that Christmas trees are pretty much as close to a neutral symbol of the "Holiday Season" as you can get), you more or less make yourself and your organization out to be an belligernent ass regardless of what the response is from the other side.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at December 11, 2006 08:52 AM | TrackBack