Santa Monica, December of 2011. The usual line-up of nativity scenes at Palisades Park has now been mostly replaced with a myriad of Atheist messages and political statements. The driving force behind this departure from the traditional is one Damon Vix, who does not reside in Santa Monica. Last year, Vix was able to secure one of the display spots allotted by the city to put up a display of a quote by former president (and Unitarian) Thomas Jefferson which stated, “Religions are all alike — founded on fables and mythologies” among other Atheist messages.
This year, due to the city’s adoption of a new lottery system for assigning the spaces Vix, working with American Atheists, INC and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has managed to secure all but three of the twenty-one available spaces, leaving only those three for traditional displays.
(SOAPBOX=ON) While I can assuredly agree with Vix’s stance on the necessary separation of church and state, I don’t quite understand how an all-out assault on Christmas displays accomplishes anything, other than depriving the community (a community in which Vix doesn’t even reside!) of the beauty and symbols of hope and peace that the traditional displays have been providing for the past six decades. Now, having these displays behind chain link fences does seem to rob them of some of their attractiveness, but still! Taking over all but three displays out of twenty-one is just being spoiled, bratty and bullying.
My guess is that Mr. Vix will get a gigundous lump of coal in his stocking this year, and rightly so. The Grinch now has a name, and it is Damon Vix. I’ll close this one out, a la Dr. Seuss:
Palisades Park looks different this year,
among the displays, a little less Christmas cheer.
For the Vix who vexed Christmas has let it be known
that the seeds of a new message were now to be sewn.
No babies in mangers, no wise men about,
But political quotes, in big letters shout.
Less cheery scenes of Mary and Joe,
“No, there’s too many and most have to GO!”
So now things have changed at Palisades Park,
a little less light, and a little more dark.
(As if we needed anything else to add to these depressing times!)
This weblog article draws from several different sources on the “interwebz,” some of these quoting the Associated Press. While the LA Times and Pocono Record report only 14 displays in total, I made a quick call to the City of Santa Monica and spoke with Barbara, who informs me that 21 is the correct count.