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Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness

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Bunny Thwump

Morning Rant: How many Seattillians can I annoy at once?

For those of you outside Seattle, you may have missed this season's "World Crisis"

So a recap.

A Rabbi requested a Menorah (that the local Jewish league would pay for) be added to the Christmas Tree display at SeaTac airport. For 2 months he was given the run around and blown off. It would be too complicated to put a Menorah up. The Rabbi's lawyer then brought up the fact that there was a potential for lawsuit over this. Rather than opening talks, the airport quickly stripped the trees down crying lawsuit. As a result local Jewish league began getting hate mail and abusive calls and threats from angry residents. The Rabbi finally stated he wouldn't file suit and the trees came back. SeaTac will examine their policy after the first of the year (read: after the 'holiday season'... read "Rabbi loses")

Now... here are some of the reasons this whole affair has me really oiked off.

First: The stupidity of the people towards the Jewish community.

The following comments have actually been made by the local media:
Christmas Trees aren't religious symbols.(Thus the sudden push to call them holiday trees) ((And don't get me started on the symbolic origin of said Yule items))
I'll put this quite honestly. If you want to represent the season... then do it with snowflakes, coloured lights, and presents. Maybe some photographs of some rather unethical behavior towards your fellow man inside malls. Otherwise, you are representing a subset of our societies religious observances (no matter how far the symbols may actually have travelled from the actual holiday celebrated)

Threatening to sue over this issue during this time of the year misses the whole spirit of Christmas
You know.. with this one... I was absolutely waiting for some moron in the media to finally pronounce that the Rabbi had lost sight of what it meant to be a "Good Christian"... Granted style of comment always amuses me because 99+% of the time it comes from someone who not only isn't one but wouldn't know a "Good Christian" if he blessed him on the leg. I know some very wonderful Christians and even they would get riled up over the stupidity of this.

Pushing back against the tradition misses the spirit of the holiday
Were I not in Washington state where I'd be committing a felony for betting online, I'd offer money that 90+% of the non-Jewish media has no idea what the whole idea of Chanukkah (I'm in a pi&#y mood, don't argue the spelling) is even about. Just a note here, Hannukahh is a holiday commemorating a miracle to help preserve faith in the eyes of a time when others were out to roll over the Jewish faith and leave them without a way to observe their beliefs. (hmmn, let's think about that in context)

Finally on this issue... The fact that everyone got angry at their fellow man for wanting to be heard in a season of celebration rather than at the Airport administrators for waffling and not doing anything beyond inciting anger... strikes me as 'most people missing the spirit of the holiday'

But lest you think I'm just sticking up for the religion I was brought up with... there is yet more OIKAGE.

I'm really oiked at how this was handled by the Rabbi and especially his idiot lawyer.

Listening to the Lawyer interviewed directly, I've never heard a wash of bad stereotype, avoiding the issue, legalese bul#@hit in my life. This guy couldn't answer a question directly. Are you suing? "Let me explain the situation... the holiday..."
Did you threaten a lawsuit? "You're not letting me explain the situation... we came to "

Repeatedly the lawyer explained that he'd drawn up papers for a lawsuit to show the airport the potential of the situation.

No offense... Wait.. No. Complete offense meant here. When a lawyer comes up to you and says, "Here's what a lawsuit I'm researching from us will look like"... You're threatening a lawsuit.

The rabbi was no better on this issue.

The Rabbi performed the ultimate backpedal. In an interview he acquiesced that "Christmas trees" aren't religious icons and neither are menorahs... That's right... A Rabbi (Read: Religious leader in a religious community) would like to add a symbol from his faith's holiday in the holiday season that isn't really a religious symbol, next to the trees representing Christmas.. which aren't really symbols of a religious holiday.

WHAT THE F&#*??!?

Is this where Judaism has gone? Double speaking their religion with the same finesse as a Falwell or other Televangelist. If I loop the truth in double speak it's all okay now? Political Correctness be thou hallowed?

Okay folks really simple like. TREES are up for CHRISTMAS. Because it sure as heck isn't the Buddhists complaining when they get taken down. MENORAHS are for CHANUKKAH. Because most non Jews don't know what it means. They are icons of your (ir)respective religious holidays. Grow some balls and admit it. You're supposed to be a religious leader. Be one.

Then the Jewish league told it's local synagogues to step up security due to threats received because of the 'non-lawsuit-threat-of-no-action-maybe-causing-the-not-really-christian-trees-go-away'... which was okay.. because the city hadn't really seen any deadly violence toward the Jewish community for at least 4 months

Well, with all this Christmas Spirit of loving one's neighbor, the Rabbi said officially, "No, there will be no suit"

The Airport which had made the statement that putting up a menorah would be far to complicated... quickly replaced the trees that they removed. Because we know that 10 trees are far easier to remove and replace than one candelabra.

What really oiks me off about the situation was that... despite a grinch like demeanor on this whole thing; (and if you watch 'How I met your mother' I revel in being a Grinch today)... the Rabbi should have sued.

Now to be honest... I am a quiet little anarchist. I can say that with a straight face because any one of those three terms would get people laughing at me, but together they are true.

I would love to see a lawsuit brought by one major religion against one state institution in the name of the first phrase of the first amendment. If it were the Randians, or the Scientologists, or {pick your own deity} help us the Moslems... the state would really hem and haw. But despite whatever you consider about the Jews. They are a real, religious organization. If they wanted to stand up and protest 1st amendment violations... the truth is... they'd win. I'm not saying the others aren't. I'm saying that U.S. society recognizes Christi-olicism, Jewdaic Inheritance, and now begrudgingly is acknowledging that Hinduism/Moslem is practiced by people other than extremists. (This latter fact really is screwing up the government's propaganda campaign to support our involvement in someone else's civil war... but that's not the point of this post). Anyone who's pagan... well, they still need to wait their turn.

But the real reason I'd love to see that.. is because of the immediate chaos that would cause. Because the one thing the gov't has so dearly tried to avoid (and Arlington Cemetary is the place the battle is being quietly fought) is the inrush of religions claiming legitimacy.

I want to see this thing go to lawsuit so that either the "Christmas based" iconography has to be struck (which I really don't want) OR any religious icon MUST be displayed regardless of religion. See I want to see a day where the seasonal affectations come out and someone has put out a Baphomet, or a Green Man (in it's proper season), or even a Hot Dog on Friday.

Religious protection is only religious protection if we really want to protect people believing in what they believe in... regardless if we believe in it or practice it ourselves. Otherwise, personally, I think we're being more destructive in the name of freedom than constructive.

A Pax on you in this season.


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Are airports considered public property?

Generally yes. Most airports are publically owned or are owned by a holding company under public control.

I see. That being the case, perhaps it's time for a display at our airports symbolizing the death and rebirth of the phallus.

And that's why I want the lawsuit :)


Seatac is governed by the port authority, just like the shipping ports.

An interesting argument I've seen is that there are two distinct holidays going by the name 'Christmas' - one, the religious festival celebrating the birth of Jesus, and two, the secular consumerist celebration with Santa Claus , etc. Christmas trees are a symbol of the latter, not the former, and hence secular symbols that should be completely okay.

One flaw in this argument is if the holiday is secular, then for gods' sake stop calling it Christ's Mass!

Yeah! It's Saint Nicholas'...oh wait. Saint...Santa...Santa is a religious icon, too!


I was absolutely waiting for some moron in the media to finally pronounce that the Rabbi had lost sight of what it meant to be a "Good Christian"...

Yes, it's a horrid and multi-flawed situation. I hear you.

But you still made me laugh, in spite of your OIKITUDE!

Anyone who's pagan... well, they still need to wait their turn.

Nope. All we need to do is point out the nice "Christian" trees, the wreaths, etc. then explain the REAL origins of the symbolism!

Watch the fundies freak out!

Christmas Trees most likely originated in Germany with the pre-converted pagans there. The tree itself symbolized both fertility and everlasting life, which is why evergreen pine trees are used for Christmas Trees, and it's why the whole holiday has a vaguely Germanic feel to it. (Think about it: the traditional (pre Coke ad) Saint Nick, the wooden toys, decorating trees with food--if you go to any scandanavian or german area of town, the whole decorating scheme just works with the rest of the Bavarian atmosphere. And the tradition of gift-giving and yule-tidings (literally 'yellow-tidings', refering more to the tradition of lighting everyting up in the darkness of winter in Germany) were also directly borrowed from the same region.

The label "Christmas" got attached to the tree around the 16th century given the conflation of Germanic winter solstice practices and celebrations and the Christian Christmas--even though there are many Christians who think it's an abomination of the season.

I would argue that the ancient Yule symbols are not arguably nor uniquely Christian, thus one could argue that "Yule-tidings" and "Christmas Trees" are not symbols of a repressive Christian regime attempting to promulgate Christianity onto an unsuspecting world, anymore than Easter Eggs and Easter Bunnies are Christian.

Now if the airport had hung a Crucifix (either with or without the bloody corpse) I would argue that it was an explicit favoring of a particular religion.

I'm not as sure about Hanukkah; the burning of the eight candles represent the miracle of making one day of olive oil last for eight days to keep the eternal flame in the Temple of Jerusalem lit after the battle against Antiochus IV.

On the other hand, given how many Jews view Hanukkah--and given the half-secular, half-religious meaning of the celebration of the festival of lights (you really don't see "pure" religion until Christianity and its assertion to "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's"--the first time you see the idea of separation of Church and State anywhere), I would have simply found space and erected a Minorah

Frankly I think a wonderful expression of the season would be to find space in areas for any religion with a winter celebration to erect its symbols in a specified area of the airport, with appropriate labels to indicate whose it is. Thus, Kwanzaa, Christmas Trees, Christian Crosses, Minorahs, symbols for Eid Al-Adha, and anyone else who is willing to take responsibility for a culturally sensitive display.

I'm having sort of the opposite problem at my office. We have a tree (and some garland with lights and some poinsettias and an obscene amount of candy.) We also have a menorah on the counter of the reception desk.

To my knowledge, there are not only no Jewish people in our company, there aren't really any people in our company with a clear understanding of what the menorah symbolizes. (I had a vague idea, but actually learned quite a lot from your brief comments about it's symbolism.)

The facilities manager puts up the menorah to "balance" the tree. But that is the only other decoration that isn't a "Christmas" decoration (unless you want to count the tree twice as both Christian & Pagan.) So we have a deeply religious icon being used as a token of diverstity and as part of our decorations. I find it offensive because it seems like there is a lack of respect for this deeply religious symbol in using it as a token. There is very little respect in using someone's religious icon to cover your ass.

And on the whole tree debate--I tend to see the tree as a secular symbol for Christians but a religious symbol for pagans. When Christians are intent on putting up a religious icon for the season, they put up nativity scenes. When they are celebrating the candy-and-presents of consumer "X-mas" they put up a tree.

In my opinion, if you are going to emphasize diversity, then do it right. The foundation of true diversity and tolerance is sharing and understanding. So contact several different groups in advance and find out who wants space to decorate with deadlines for responding and guidelines for displays (size, fire, electricity, no bashing of other groups, etc.) Allocate the space for those who respond and have the main decorations be truly non-denominational. Request that those putting up the displays have handouts available (or a museum-style poster) explaining the display and it's significance. Or have them provide the text to the organizers and have the organizers put together one publication that describes all of the displays, with a map of the facility showing where the displays are located.

you're making a joke, and know that the adjective is "judaic" and the religion practiced by muslims is "islam," right?

just checking.


A Pax on you in this season.


"If you want to represent the season... then do it with snowflakes,..." with this geographical elitism? I'm sitting here on a lovely December afternoon in Santa Monica , sun a-shining, blue-ish sky, and nary a snowflake in sight, and I'm supposed to fall for this retarded reason for the season thing?

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