December 16, 2006
What is the matter with people?
Suppose you were an Asian living in Toronto, a visible minority. Suppose you were Moslem. Suppose you got into some kind of unpleasant legal dispute with your neighbor over something and you ended up having to go to court to defend yourself. Suppose you walk into the court house and there, in a prominent place in the front lobby, is a Christmas tree. Just like your neighbor has.
No-- the Christmas tree doesn't necessarily mean the judge is biased in favor of your neighbor. It just means that the people who work in the court house belong to the same social-political-cultural club as your neighbor.
Considering the very, very, very marginal benefit of having a Christmas tree in a courthouse lobby versus the effect of affirming to some minorities that they might be up against a social club with shared symbols and values, of which the judge is a member... no contest. Courtrooms should stay absolutely clear of any symbols of cultural or religious values. Courtroom staffs should bend over backwards to make it as clear as possible to everyone who enters the building that justice as done in Ontario is objective, unbiased, and fair.
So what is the matter with people? This is what most reasonable, educated people have believed for years and years. Suddenly, I hear even the CBC radio staff getting into a huff about it. What's so bad about having a Christmas tree in a court house?
Folks, this is the kind of position that usually belongs to Don Cherry, not Andy Berry! What's good about it? We are inundated with Christmas songs, Christmas decorations, Christmas sales, Christmas specials, Christmas credit, Christmas movies... why on earth would anyone feel persecuted because they couldn't have a Christmas tree in a public building?
Because it's not about the tree or the public building. It's about telling people who are different from us to go "home". Home is Scarborough.