Tuesday, 18 December 2012

City of Saskatoon Challenged Over "Merry Christmas" Bus Signs

Okay, so I'm not too sure how I feel about this.

Ashu Solo, of whom we've heard before, is threatening to make a human rights complaint due to Merry Christmas LED signs on Saskatoon city buses that first appeared in 2006.

Saskatoon could face human rights complaint after refusing to yank ‘Merry Christmas’ message from buses
The city of Saskatoon is facing the possibility of a human rights complaint after it refused to yank the “Merry Christmas” message from the top of its buses despite allegations of discrimination. 
On Monday, local activist Ashu Solo vowed to take the matter to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, claiming the Christmas greetings violate his right to be free from religion.
He goes on to say the signs constitute a forcible attempt at Christian indoctrination.

Really?  I can understand not wanting the city endorsing a religious holiday (although, even that is dubious with Christmas) and I do support the Freedom from Religion Foundation in the States, the secularization of public schools in Ontario and the expulsion of the Gideons from our public schools, but is this perhaps a little bit of an exaggeration?  Forcible attempt at Christian indoctrination?  A bus sign?

I like Christmas - well, the secular one that most people celebrate... the whole Jesus thing is a myth, of course.

But this is coming from someone in Montreal Quebec - ground zero for Canadian secularism.  This statement from Ward 4 Councillor Troy Davies makes me pause and think twice.
“My first reaction was this is not something that I’m going to support whatsoever. The term Merry Christmas is more than just a word, there’s a whole meaning behind it,” he said.
The fact it means so much to this councillor tells me something.  "Merry Christmas" perhaps means more in Ashu's city of Saskatoon than here in secular Montreal.  And if the idea of the councillor is to somehow promote the whole meaning behind it with these bus signs then what we have here is the state foisting a single religion onto the public - plain and simple.

I wouldn't go as far as saying it's religious indoctrination - but the why didn't the city just change the sign to "Happy Holidays?" - the meaning behind Christmas, which one can only assume they are trying to somehow represent or promote using the signs.

And then...
The councillor said the activist has a reputation for filing frequent complaints. 
He said he receives emails from Mr. Solo “every two or three days, for sure,” about “pretty much anything and everything.” 
Many of these emails have been recorded by Mr. Solo himself on a blog.
I suppose the idea is to try to paint him as a crank or a looney.  Here is a Star Phoenix story which repeats this message and contains some of his letter to the city:  Complaint filed over ‘Merry Christmas’ message on Saskatoon buses

Although Canada doesn't have the same official separation of church and state that the US has, I think it should.  So I appreciate his goal.

Merry Christmas doesn't belong on city-funded public transit buses.  Ashu, I wish you luck on this endeavour.

What do you think?  Is this overreaction or should the city stop with the "Merry Christmas" signs?

25 comments:

  1. My feeling is that he needs to lighten up. Christmas wasn't even originally a Christian holiday mind you, it was a European pagan winter solstice festival.


    Most of the fundamentalists that keep ranting about "keeping Christ in Christmas" don't even know this, which is what makes me want to laugh every I see it come up online.

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  2. Thanks Sheldon. You see, that is my initial response to all of this. But there are arguments against as well. I think he goes wayyyy overboard declaring it's a forcible attempt at Christian indoctrination. If anything it's merely a reminder of the privileged position Christianity has in our culture. I agree with the cause - but I flip flop on the means.

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  3. Veronica Abbass18 December 2012 14:31

    Godless

    Thank you for this post. Hat Tip at http://canadianatheist.com/2012/12/18/merry-christmas-on-saskatoon-buses/

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  4. Nothing reminded me more of Christian privilege in the US than Obama's speech over the weekend at Newton Connecticut, laced with so many references to god and Christianity.

    I don't begrudge anyone leaning on their faith during a time like this, but for a US President to make a speech like that, publicly broadcast, without stating those were his personal feelings (and not that of the US government), wasn't right in my opinion.

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  5. Christ is Christmas, if you don't like that then don't celebrate it. Quite frankly stop hijacking our holidays.

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  6. I love these debates it just keeps Jesus Christ in all the conversations :)

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  7. As a matter of principle, public buses should not favour one religion over another. So as long as they are acknowledging Mohammed, Moses, Buddha, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and the Invisible Pink Unicorn (apologies to all the gods and prophets I left out), I don't see any problem with having a sign that says "Merry Christmas".

    Agreed that Christmas was not originally a Christian holiday, and I'm all for celebrating *something* when it's so cold and dark all the time, but perhaps we should call it something other than Christmas. In my experience, atheists whose cultural background is non-Christian have a rather different view of this sort of thing.

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  8. Say Happy Holidays and the christians bitch about it. Call it Christmas and the atheists bitch. What are we supposed to call it, the C-day? Merry December 25th? get a life.

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  9. I missed the speech. Perhaps I'll catch up later - but the whole thing is so depressing. I hope measures are put into place that will reduce future incidents.

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  10. Thanks for your comment Uzza. Yeah I wished someone at work "Happy Holidays" and they went on and on about how we should just say "Merry Christmas". Next time I will just wish them a happy vacation.

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  11. I think we can all agree on "Happy Holidays". Thanks for the comment, Theo.

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  12. Thanks for the mention, Veronica!

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  13. Christ is a small component of most people's Christmas. I love Christmas but I'm not Christian. Also, note that the Catholic Church did a pretty good job of hijacking pagan celebrations around that time and rebranding them as Christmas.

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  14. When I get that I say "well, ok then, have a merry christmas and a crappy thanksgiving and new years.

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  15. Veronica Abbass20 December 2012 16:41

    In your conversation maybe.

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  17. Conceived in Liberty27 December 2012 05:43

    One has to argue it's an attempt at "forcible indoctrination" to win the human rights complaint. Don't knock what you don't understand.


    You should cover the prayer recitation complaint.

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  18. Conceived in Liberty28 December 2012 05:08

    One has to argue it's an attempt at "forcible indoctrination" to win the human rights complaint. Don't knock what you don't understand.

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  19. Conceived in Liberty28 December 2012 05:10

    What you don't seem to understand is when making a complaint, you say whatever will help you win in court, even if it means exaggerating a bit about the effects. The case can't be won without arguing it's forcible indoctrination.

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  20. Thanks for your comment. Well, all I'll say is that it is clearly not forcible indoctrination.

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  21. Which prayer recitation complaint?

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  22. Conceived in Liberty2 January 2013 09:16

    It's described at http://atchison-discrimination.blogspot.ca

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