Decorating by committee

Driven by the urgent need to erect a religious display on public property—after all, it’s just not Christmas unless you annex the county courthouse lawn—the all-Republican cast on the new Loudoun Board of Supervisors cannily hatched up the idea of having a government committee design, erect, and own whatever highly tasteful display is eventually deployed on government property in downtown Leesburg this year.

Of course, I haven’t exactly noticed a shortage of holiday displays on private homes, churches, shops, restuarants, and other private property around town during the Christmas season, and you might think the simplest solution that respects all citizens would be to leave the courts to the business of . . . oh I don’t know, how about administering justice impartially? . . . and leave the business of religious-themed displays to non-governmental entities and individuals.

Would you let this man design your holiday display?

But a proposed policy to do just that a couple of years ago led to howls of outrage from those who insisted that this was a nefarious assault in disguise, part of the larger “war on Christmas,” and demanded that the “traditional” creche featuring extremely tasteful colored plastic images of the Holy Family be permitted to occupy public property. The little matter of the Constitution however does just require that if you let one group erect a display on public property you don’t get to choose which one, based on religion. Thus the humorous (to some) vulgar (to others) and undeniably chaotic spectacle of recent years on the courthouse lawn in which the highly tasteful creche rubbed shoulders with atheist quotations and the Flying Spaghetti Monster among others.

Having a government committee design a single authorized display might get around the constitutional problem but is virtually guaranteed to generate its own ridiculous outcome, a mere taste of which was provided the other day by none other than our he’s-everywhere-new-supervisor “Ken” Reid (R-Leesburg).

Ken has previously styled himself “The Jew Who Saved Christmas” for his valiant fight in favor of creches etc. on government property. Now however, “Ken” has apparently reinvented himself as “The Jew Who Saved Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, and Various Other Religions I Can Think Of That May or May Not Have Holidays Around the Same Time.”

I can do no better than simply quote this account from Leesburg Today of Ken’s appearance before the committee:

Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) presented a drawing made by his teenage daughter of what the display could be, including children representing each faith and holiday—Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Kwanzaa, Atheism, and Sikhism—and holding a symbol of their beliefs, with a Christmas tree in the background. Reid said he was not offering it up as an actual option, but said it was more a representation of how each of the major religions could be represented in the display.

(What, by the way, is the little atheist child going to be holding as a “symbol” of her “belief”? . . . nothing?)

The old joke about a camel being a horse designed by a committee may soon be supplanted by the joke that the Loudoun County Courthouse Holiday Display Designed By Committee will surely provide.