Ah, December. The time of year when Christmas trees go up, some people get upset when not enough Christmas trees go up, and a few people get really pissed off when a Christmas tree comes down. The fights over religious iconography during the holidays are pretty well established by now, but the Christmas tree is new territory. Christians like it because it's still their thing, and non-Christians like it because it's pretty damn secular, has distinctly pagan origins, and they've got one in their own homes already. In a Los Angeles retirement community though, the tree that was once up is coming down, and boy are the seniors pissed.
And if you know seniors at all, you know that when they're pissed off they say some really ignorant shit. We've picked two great zingers published in the LA Daily News:
Fern Sheel: Where's our freedom? This is ridiculous.
Robert Troudeau: There are people overseas fighting for our freedoms and dying and we're here fighting over things like this. It's a shame.
Troudeau doesn't exactly say it, but we're guessing that he shares Sheel's opinion of what his freedoms are.
Do you have the right to have Christmas decorations on public property? Hell no. The display of a nativity scene outside your city hall might not necessarily be an endorsement of religion; it could be argued that it's simply honoring widely held religious beliefs of the community without actually endorsing them -- that argument will lose, based on all the precedent in cases like this, but it's still an argument with a little bit of merit. A right to have it though? No. If your local public park doesn't put up Christmas decorations you can't sue to make them do it.
But this isn't a public place, this is a privately owned retirement community. The Willows (that's the name of the place, not a family that lives there) does have the right to display whatever they want in their lobby. And there's the crux of the argument. Is there a right to display religious symbols on private property? Hell yes. ...Who holds the right? The property owner.
Where's your freedom, Fern? It's in the room you're paying rent for. The common areas are The Willows's freedom, and it's not a violation of your rights for them to take down a Christmas tree displayed there.
Though, it is a violation of their rights for you to break apart the tree and take pieces back to your room. Not making it up, that's what the seniors there are doing in protest. And these people represent the largest, wealthiest, most politically active voting block in the country. Good luck, America.