Sunday, December 05, 2004


The lord mayor of Australia's largest city was under fire Friday over a decision to limit spending on Christmas celebrations, a move some critics see as an attempt to avoid offending non-Christian immigrant communities. Christians have decried the trend to play down the importance of the season as anything other than a time of consumerism and overindulgence, with all references to the Christian message removed. Lord Mayor Clover Moore's decision to restrict city council spending to about $465,000 means the city hall has been decorated with a single illuminated tree, which is perched on a balcony over the building's entrance. Other low-key decorations have been put up elsewhere in the city, as have banners with the words "Season's Greetings" in English and eight other languages, but no specific reference to Christmas.

Under a headline "Where's our Christmas?" the Daily Telegraph, a Sydney tabloid, published front-page pictures Friday contrasting Sydney's lone tree with the lit-up streets of New York, London and Paris.....

Prime Minister John Howard, a resident of the city of almost four million people, entered the debate in a radio interview Friday, saying that Moore's plans were "silly" and should be reconsidered. "I have never met a Jewish person or a Muslim Australian who wants us to stop celebrating Christmas," Howard said. "You can't have a generic approach to Christmas -- it celebrates an historic event, it celebrates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, and it has become a focal point around the world for families to get together, to celebrate. You can't replace that." Sydney prides itself on being one of the world's most vibrant and popular cities whose celebrations of Christmas and New Year usually rival those of other centers......

Almost 70 percent of Australians identified themselves as Christians in a 2001 national census. Peter Stokes, director of a Christian ethics action group, said Christians were "seeing a huge amount of this type of political correctness happening across the country at the moment. "Pre-school and kindergartens staff are literally afraid to put up anything religious for fear a parent will complain," Stokes said. "Businesses are telling staff not to say 'Happy Christmas' -- so as not to offend customers."

In Australia's third-largest city, the Brisbane city council has given the go-ahead for a homosexual group called the "Caroling Queens" to sing Christmas songs at a shopping mall. "The glamorous Caroling Queens offer ... camped-up performances of favorite Christmas carols," the organizers said in a press release that promises "choreographed routines, feel-good tunes and a whole lot of sequins."

[Christmas for Queers only?]

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They have long abandoned dedication to truth. Lies are a lot more convenient

At Hamilton College--an elite liberal arts institution in Clinton, N.Y.--you can take courses in Roman civilization, Shakespeare and the "Emergence of Modern Western Europe, 1500-1815." All well and good. You can also take something called "Resistance Memoirs: Writing, Identity and Change." That last course--a month-long, half-credit seminar--is scheduled to begin next month. Its teacher is Susan Rosenberg, formerly of the Weather Underground.

Remember the Weather Underground? Its self-described revolutionaries, mostly middle-class, dedicated themselves to supporting radical black causes and tearing apart American society in the 1970s and early 1980s. In 1970, they blew up a townhouse when a bomb detonated prematurely and killed a few of their troops. Kathy Boudin, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn and other high-profile members of the group spent the next decade or so running from the police and, some of them, continuing to pursue careers in criminal violence.

Ms. Rosenberg did her part. In October 1981, in an operation code-named "The Big Dance," several black radicals and members of the Weather Underground held up a Brinks armored car in Nanuet, N.Y. In the course of that act of domestic terrorism, they murdered Peter Paige, a Brinks guard, and police officers Edward O'Grady and Waverly Brown, the only black officer on the Nyack, N.Y., force. Ms. Rosenberg, then still at large, was indicted as an accessory....

Under fire, Hamilton administrators have wrapped themselves in the mantle of free speech. "As long as public safety and the rights of others are not compromised," they stated, "the college does not normally put limits on which voices can be heard and which cannot."

Well, that depends. In 2002, it is true, when Annie Sprinkle, a pornography star and performance artist, came to Hamilton to regale students and members of the local community about the proper use of sexual appliances, Hamilton administrators stood high on the pedestal of free speech. But when Brendan McCormick, a Hamilton alumnus and official class representative, sought to alert his classmates to the Rosenberg appointment, the college's development office refused to send out a letter from him, as it normally would. "I pointed out the hypocrisy of sending out a press release claiming that you do not censor speech and then turning around and doing just that," Mr. McCormick later said.

Ah yes: Free speech for me, but not for thee.

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