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DaffyGrl
The latest crusade by the ACLU is a threatened lawsuit against LA County to have a small cross removed from the Los Angeles county seal. The county has knuckled under and has agreed to change the seal to avoid the lawsuit. The seal is on everything from buildings to trucks to coffee cups, employee badges, stationery and water bottles. The cost to redesign the seal and replace every depiction of it will be staggering.

See the seal here: LA County Seal

The battle started in Redlands (70 miles east of Los Angeles), when the city caved to the ACLU on a similar case:
QUOTE
In March, Redlands officials were stunned to receive a letter from the ACLU challenging that city's inclusion of a cross hovering over a church steeple in its official seal.

To the outrage of many local residents, whose city was deemed years ago the "City of Churches," officials quietly agreed to remove the cross from the 40-year-old seal, rather than face the likelihood of costly litigation.Sacramento Bee Story

QUOTE
In a May 19 letter, ACLU attorneys warned the Board of Supervisors to remove the cross or face a lawsuit.

"I believe this seal in no way favors the practice or promotion of any religion over another, just as the Goddess Pomona certainly does not encourage the act of pagan worship," said Councilwoman Janice Hahn, whose father, the late county Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, designed the seal. LA Times Story

The action is "Orwellian, out-of-control political correctness that has no legal basis," he [County Supervisor Michael Antonovich] added. "Next the ACLU will want to eliminate the crosses and Stars of David in our nation's military cemeteries." Daily News Story

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday reached a tentative agreement with Los Angeles County government to replace a historic cross on the county seal with depictions of a Spanish mission and Native Americans. Daily News Update

I could be misguided, but replacing an historic, generic symbol, even if it has a religious connotation (the cross) with a specific Catholic symbol (a mission) seems just a bit…dumb. It can also be argued (and has) that the missions are symbols of the Spaniards’ slavery of the native people. And what about that Roman goddess anyway? I consider myself an agnostic, and I think this kind of thing is petty and ridiculous, not to mention a huge waste of taxpayer money and court time. Who cares if a teeny weeny cross is on a county seal that nobody pays attention to anyway? (A side note: the seal's overall design is fairly hideous-glopped up with such disparate images as a cow, a tuna and a sailing ship. I mean, sheesh.)

What’s next – the city’s name? Los Angeles’ whole name was originally El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles (The City of the Queen of the Angels). Should we change the city’s name because it’s an endorsement of religion? Should every city (there are 49 of them in CA) starting with “San” or “Santa” be changed because they refer to male or female saints?

There must be many cities and counties across the country who have "inappropriate" symbols in their seals.

Questions for debate:

Are the ACLU’s actions in this case and others like it justifiable or is “political correctness” getting out of hand?

Is the ACLU becoming a bully?
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amf
As someone who normally defends the ACLU's actions as being "for the little guy", the California ACLU does appear to be acting the part of bully unless.......

Unless you aren't Christian.

Sometimes it's hard to think about what it would be like to be in the minority. And to have a very aggressive campaign by the majority to shove their symbols and ideology down your throat. Then you want to find ways to fight back. Is that what's happening here? Maybe.

Is the ACLU being a bully? Maybe. But since they're giving both places ample time to make the change, I'd say "not really".

Look at it another way: If the LA seal included a swastika -- a Buddhist symbol as well as the Nazi symbol -- and the area was first settled by Buddhist monks, would you have wanted it removed because the symbol offends you? Would you have wanted the ACLU to represent you in this matter, because that's what they do? hmmm.gif
Government Mule
QUOTE(DaffyGrl @ Jun 3 2004, 09:16 AM)


Are the ACLU’s actions in this case and others like it justifiable or is “political correctness” getting out of hand?

Is the ACLU becoming a bully?

Justifiable? Yes. What if the seal contained a Star of David instead of the cross? I don't think that would be appropriate either. It is a very simple matter of the Separation of Church and State, and if the State had recognized its own violation, groups such as the ACLU wouldn't have to play the part of "Bully".

It is a matter of right and wrong, and the ACLU was right on this issue. If you want to make them Bullies for being right and making sure that what is right prevails, go ahead, be my guest. I appreciate the service that the ACLU provides every american, and I support them in their pursuit for equal rights for all americans, not simply the majority.
Cube Jockey
Are the ACLU’s actions in this case and others like it justifiable or is “political correctness” getting out of hand?

I too am agnostic and I'd find this case to be a tad frivolous. However, the ACLU stands on principles and conducts itself in that manner. One of those principles is separation of church and state. Given that, this case is justifiable.

LA County has apparently decided that it would be cheaper to just accomodate the request rather than go to trial where they could potentially win or lose. That was their decision.

The ACLU would not be doing their job, and I wouldn't support them, if they didn't hold this principled stance. I believe there is a limit here, but that limit is for judges to decide.

Is the ACLU becoming a bully?
Like I stated above, I believe they are just doing their job. Depending on what side of the fence you fall on anyone can consider the ACLU a bully depending on the issue. The fact is, they are out there protecting our civil liberties every day. They take on cases that may appear small, but legal precedents are often set in motion by small things.
Azure-Citizen
Are the ACLU’s actions in this case and others like it justifiable or is “political correctness” getting out of hand?

I think whether or not something is based on "political correctness" is too deeply mired in an individual's subjective point of view.

Is the ACLU becoming a bully?

I thought maybe the ACLU was being too heavy handed, until I read the referenced articles in full and concluded otherwise. As it has been pointed out, the ACLU is giving the local governments ample time to make the changes. And is the cost of redesigning the seal and replacing it really going to be staggering? If anyone has come across data on that, please post it. I suspect that the cost of modifying the seal would still be less expensive than fighting a lawsuit that the ACLU will probably win.

One of the religious leaders in the Redlands city seal incident stated that the ACLU is "pushing their agenda of atheism that we don't think is right." Does the ACLU have an agenda of atheism, or is it separation between Church and State? I remember a recent thread on A.D. where the ACLU successfully championed the religious freedom rights of a girl who wanted to inscribe a religious message for publication in the official yearbook of a public school.

A comment on something in the referenced Sacramento Bee Article:
QUOTE
...the ACLU can produce documents showing that when the seal was filed with the state in 1957, the county's intentions were clear.

A transcript of a May 1956 Board of Supervisors' meeting shows Supervisor Kenneth Hahn backing the new seal as one he said "shows the cultural and educational and the religious life of this county."

Even then, one Beverly Hills resident was so bothered he complained to the board. In a January 1957 letter, Burton Zipser argued "it is fundamental to the American way of life that the state and the church are separated."

If this matter had gone to trial, the above would have been very important in the outcome. The city's legal advisors probably made sure the city was aware of this.
DaffyGrl
I understand and agree with many of the arguments. Let me make something clear: I am an agnostic, and don't believe religion has any place in government. But I believe that this case, and others like it, are trivial to the point of absurdity.

Like I said in my original post, how does replacing the cross with A CATHOLIC CHURCH (which is what a mission is) solve the problem? Isn't the Roman goddess a pagan (i.e. religious) symbol?

And the issue of the cities' names; all 49 of the San's and Santa's in California are named after Catholic saints. How far should we go to purge religion from the public consciousness?

Azure-Citizen: I haven't been able to find anything yet stating the estimated cost, but when I do, I'll post a link.
Aquilla
Quite frankly, this is proof positive that we have way too many lawyers with way too much time on their hands in this country. "Protecting our civil rights". Ok, quick show of hands. How many of you feel safer and more "liberated" now knowing that the City of Los Angeles will remove a small cross from their official seal? Of course, doing this will cost some money, but what the heck, we don't really need any more police or firemen anyway once we get that dang cross off the seal. whistling.gif But, perhaps there is even more on the horizon.....

In DaffyGrl's post here in the Casual Conversation area, she talks about her native city of Los Angeles. She is rightfully proud of it, as am I. It's a great city. From her post about Los Angeles......

QUOTE
Los Angeles's full name is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula" (The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angeles of Porciuncula). Boy, now that's a mouthful!


"City of the Angels". Sounds pretty darn religious to me. Many of the cities in Southern California are named after missions. San Fernando, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Barbara. San Luis Obispo. That's how Los Angeles was founded, by Catholic Missionaries. Like it or not, that's history. The cross in our city seal is less a religious reference than it is a recognition of our historical origins.

So what's next? Do we change the name? Los Angeles itself has a religious reference, so that probably offends someone and "violates" their "rights". I'm sure someone can't sleep at night for fear of jack-booted Angel thugs breaking down their door and forcing them to read the Bible.

In case y'all haven't guessed it. I think this is a gross waste of time and money and completely ridiculous. mad.gif
carlitoswhey
QUOTE
Are the ACLU’s actions in this case and others like it justifiable or is “political correctness” getting out of hand?


Out of control PC. Completely.

QUOTE
Is the ACLU becoming a bully?


Yes they are. Listen to how they are 'giving the county time' to make the changes. Before they threaten an expensive, wasteful lawsuit. What the (deleting religious reference to hot destination) right does the ACLU have to 'give them time?' And this is Los Angeles County. Just think when the ACLU and its army of lawyers take on 'the little guy' - everyone will have to acquiesce to this unelected body that has made it their mission to take religion out of the public sphere.

I know it's the left coast, but really how a cross on the LA county seal be the same as congress making a law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Amlord
Are the ACLU’s actions in this case and others like it justifiable or is “political correctness” getting out of hand?

The symbol has historical significance. It is not there as a random token Catholic symbol. Even Azure Citizen's quote:

QUOTE
...the ACLU can produce documents showing that when the seal was filed with the state in 1957, the county's intentions were clear.

A transcript of a May 1956 Board of Supervisors' meeting shows Supervisor Kenneth Hahn backing the new seal as one he said "shows the cultural and educational and the religious life of this county."

shows that the symbol is not solely religious. It reflects the history of Los Angeles county, which includes a religious past (maybe even present ohmy.gif ).

From religioustolerance.org: THE USE OF RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS BY MUNICIPALITIES AND STATES:

QUOTE
The court has repeatedly ruled that a religious symbol, such as the Ten Commandments, cross, menorah, nativity scene,  pentacle, etc. cannot be displayed by itself on public property. To do so would be to violate the principle of separation of church and state. However, it may appear in a display as one of many religious/cultural symbols. Hopefully, this simple principle will eventually be understood by all, so future court battles will be unnecessary. Some recent rulings have been:


The county seal is clearly a display of "many religious/cultural symbols", not a stand-alone testament to Christianity.

Is the ACLU becoming a bully?
The ACLU is a group of lawyers. They do what lawyers do : sue people. Can't blame them any more than you can blame a lion for hunting antelope, I guess. rolleyes.gif
English Horn
QUOTE(Aquilla @ Jun 3 2004, 01:26 PM)
In DaffyGrl's post here in the Casual Conversation area, she talks about her native city of Los Angeles.  She is rightfully proud of it, as am I.   It's a great city.   From her post about Los Angeles......

QUOTE
Los Angeles's full name is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula" (The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angeles of Porciuncula). Boy, now that's a mouthful!


"City of the Angels". Sounds pretty darn religious to me. Many of the cities in Southern California are named after missions. San Fernando, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Barbara. San Luis Obispo. That's how Los Angeles was founded, by Catholic Missionaries. Like it or not, that's history. The cross in our city seal is less a religious reference than it is a recognition of our historical origins.

So what's next? Do we change the name? Los Angeles itself has a religious reference, so that probably offends someone and "violates" their "rights". I'm sure someone can't sleep at night for fear of jack-booted Angel thugs breaking down their door and forcing them to read the Bible.

In case y'all haven't guessed it. I think this is a gross waste of time and money and completely ridiculous. mad.gif

It's not very often that I agree with Aquilla's posts, so I have to savor the moment smile.gif Even though I generally support ACLU efforts, this particular one seems too frivolous to me. I am all for separation of church and state, but the cross on the seal does not reflect the official policy of the city government but represents the historic origins of the city. Who really cares about the seal anyway? Not the city officials, apparently - I understand that there would be plenty of organizations that would defend them (the city of LA) against ACLU pro bono and yet they decided to just change it and not bother.
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Government Mule
QUOTE(carlitoswhey @ Jun 3 2004, 10:51 AM)


I know it's the left coast, but really how a cross on the LA county seal be the same as congress making a law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

To answer your question on how this could be the same thing, I would like to mention that local government is, and should be, held to the same rules as the Federal Government.

A religious symbol is ok for a county seal but not ok for the American Flag? To me that makes no sense.

The lines regarding Separation of Church and state are very, very clear. I don't see any need for grey areas, and again, I am proud that a group of unelected officials are making sure that our elected officials stay within the boundries of the law. A cross on a County Seal in the United States of America "crosses" (for lack of a better word) that line.
Dontreadonme
We have to tie up our courts (even more) with garbage like this? Is there not anything more productive the ACLU can be working on?
I'm all for separation of church and state, but something like this ranks at the absolute bottom of injustices that need to be corrected. I wouldn't lose a second of sleep if LA had been founded worshippers of Roman mythology, and they incorporated images in the city seal. It wouldn't influence or worry me, or make me think the city has a pro-Zeus agenda. But evidently some busybodies think differently.
TennesseeLeftWinger
As usual, people have taken an action of the ACLU and turned it into something that it isn't. I'm not going to deny that the ACLU pushes the envelope with these things, but that's why I'm a "card-carrying" member. The ACLU has a defined set of values and principles that they adhere to, and they do their best to correct anything that doesn't fall in line with the Bill of Rights. Sure they push the envelope, but they must. They're defending something that so many people would like to see fall to the wayside if it's to their convenience. Some say that this is worthless and a waste of money. But the ACLU has a job to do, even if to some their actions seem trivial. The ACLU has been fair in this case, because, as Azure-Citizen pointed out, they would undoubtedly win the lawsuit at a much greater cost than fixing these emblems. A waste of time? Not as much as going to trial would be. Look, give me a few cans of dark blue paint and a couple of weeks and I'll personally remove the crosses... for free rolleyes.gif ! As Azure-Citizen further pointed out, the cross is not an historic symbol as much as it is an endorsement of religion!

Are the ACLU’s actions in this case and others like it justifiable or is “political correctness” getting out of hand?

Like I said, absolutely. The ACLU has a job to do, and, whether or not you agree with this particular action, they will continue fighting even the smallest infractions to ensure that they don't become big infractions. Sometimes I even question the things the ACLU does, but when I actually look at the real motives of the case and past the often frivolous reporting the ACLU gets from the media, I realize that they aren't as extreme as some would like to believe.

QUOTE
Just think when the ACLU and its army of lawyers take on 'the little guy' - everyone will have to acquiesce to this unelected body that has made it their mission to take religion out of the public sphere.


I hardly think that the ACLU is a big monster that is out there simply to "take people on" and "take religion out of the public sphere." The only times that the ACLU challenges something religious are when the government either displays an overtly religious symbol, or someone's religious freedom has been infringed upon. The ACLU doesn't aim to take religion from the public sphere, in fact they often fight to keep it there. Provided it isn't the government endorsing one religion over another, the ACLU will fight just as hard to keep religion where it is.

Is the ACLU becoming a bully?

I hardly think so. The ACLU is simply doing its job. The ACLU may end up saving the county money by avoiding a lawsuit and giving them time to remove the symbols. If the figures prove the contrary, I'll withdraw my previous statement. This goes back to the big, monstrous ACLU that so many people see; I personally don't see the problem. They're preventing much bigger problems from developing, even if they don't seem apparent at first.
Azure-Citizen
QUOTE(Amlord)
QUOTE((Amlord's reference to the USSC))
The court has repeatedly ruled that a religious symbol, such as the Ten Commandments, cross, menorah, nativity scene,  pentacle, etc. cannot be displayed by itself on public property. To do so would be to violate the principle of separation of church and state. However, it may appear in a display as one of many religious/cultural symbols.

The county seal is clearly a display of "many religious/cultural symbols", not a stand-alone testament to Christianity.

The Court was speaking in the context of one prominent religious symbol being displayed among other prominent religious symbols, i.e., a Christian symbol displayed with a Jewish symbol, a Muslim symbol, a Buddist Symbol, etc. Where are the other symbols of major faiths in the seal?

---

Some random thoughts:

I can appreciate the frustration felt by residents of Los Angeles who may feel that the ACLU is like a bunch of outsiders (non-residents, foreigners to the city), made up of lawyers who have too much time on their hands. When its our own backyard, it would be natural to feel like others are trespassing when they step into our situation and try to tell us what to do.

A couple posters have remarked "Who cares???" about this issue. Apparently, people do; otherwise, why are any of us posting here?

It is unfortunate that the city government ignored the issue when it was brought up by city resident Burton Zipser at the time the seal was filed with the State. Maybe all of this could have been avoided.
Aquilla
QUOTE(TennesseeLeftWinger @ Jun 3 2004, 11:19 AM)
I hardly think so.  The ACLU is simply doing its job.  The ACLU may end up saving the county money by avoiding a lawsuit and giving them time to remove the symbols.  If the figures prove the contrary, I'll withdraw my previous statement.  This goes back to the big, monstrous ACLU that so many people see; I personally don't see the problem.  They're preventing much bigger problems from developing, even if they don't seem apparent at first.

Too bad we don't have a "Best of" category for most convoluted logic. This would win hands down. The ACLU threatens a lawsuit in order to remove a small cross from a seal. Knowing that it's going to cost money to defend the lawsuit, the county caves and agrees to remove the cross from the seal at a considerable cost I might add. Meanwhile, they are shutting down trauma centers and emergency rooms around the county because of a lack of money. Now, we are told that the ACLU by threatening this lawsuit and "giving them time" before they actually file is "saving the county money"? whistling.gif You gotta be kidding.

It is plain and simple bullying tactics by the ACLU. A legal form of extortion quite frankly and a disgusting abuse of our legal system. For those of you who are lawyers out there and wonder why your profession is so often looked at with distain by others. This is a perfect example of why. mad.gif
Rev_DelFuego
Well couldn't we stop calling it a "cross" and refer to it as the "t"!

Back to the subject, does this remind anyone else of the "confederate flag" situation last year? To me it's a clear cut decision, there should always be a separation between church and state. When California joined the Union they were aware of the separation of church and state. While Christianity may represent something good to some people, to others it brings memories of victimization .
Government Mule
QUOTE(Aquilla @ Jun 3 2004, 11:28 AM)


It is plain and simple bullying tactics by the ACLU. A legal form of extortion quite frankly and a disgusting abuse of our legal system.   For those of you who are lawyers out there and wonder why your profession is so often looked at with distain by others.   This is a perfect example of why.   mad.gif

Tell that to the Jewish school girl that walk by it every day. Ask her if she cares. Ak her who she thinks the Bully is.

Mention your stance to the Muslims around the corner. Ask them if they are glad that other's religious symbols are on their community seal.

To a christian, this might seem trivial. But I ask everyone in here, if your county or state symbol contained a Star of David, would you be for or against an organization like the ACLU resolving the issue in the courts?
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(Aquilla @ Jun 3 2004, 11:28 AM)
Meanwhile, they are shutting down trauma centers and emergency rooms around the county because of a lack of money.

That really is unrealted to anything the ACLU is doing and is the symptom of larger problems in the state of California in general.

QUOTE(Aquilla)
It is plain and simple bullying tactics by the ACLU. A legal form of extortion quite frankly and a disgusting abuse of our legal system.


The ACLU is upholding its principles and has maintained a consistent stand on this issue in cases favoring both sides. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. Either the ACLU exists to defend the constitution and the bill of rights, or it doesn't.

This case is consistent with several other cases that have happened in recent history, as an example the judge in Alabama being forced to remove a religious symbol from his court house.

Some people don't agree with what they do, but the simple fact is that they protect our civil liberties on a daily basis. Case law is formed one case at a time and each case although it may appear trivial is important for the big picture.

The law must be applied universally, and sometimes that means doing things that are unpopular or seem frivolous.
Amlord
QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Jun 3 2004, 02:42 PM)
QUOTE(Aquilla @ Jun 3 2004, 11:28 AM)
Meanwhile, they are shutting down trauma centers and emergency rooms around the county because of a lack of money.

That really is unrealted to anything the ACLU is doing and is the symptom of larger problems in the state of California in general.

Now that is simply not true.

There is only one source of funds for the county--the county taxpayers.

They can either spend millions changing this seal, or spend those same millions on trauma centers. It IS an either/or. The money issue is a big one.

As for Azure Citizen's comment:

QUOTE(Azure Citizen)
The Court was speaking in the context of one prominent religious symbol being displayed among other prominent religious symbols, i.e., a Christian symbol displayed with a Jewish symbol, a Muslim symbol, a Buddist Symbol, etc. Where are the other symbols of major faiths in the seal?


Look at my link to recent court decisions:

QUOTE
1984 - Pawtuckett, RI: (Lynch v. Donnelly) The court ruled that the city did not violate the separation of church and state when it included a nativity scene among a number of other decorations (plastic reindeer, candy canes, a wishing well, a Jewish menorah)  displayed in a public park.
1989: Pittsburg PA: (Allegheny County v. ACLU Greater Pittsburgh Chapter) The court prohibited the display of a nativity scene which stood alone inside a county courthouse.
1998- Syracuse NY: The court allowed the city to retain its nativity scene in a public park along with a number of other decorations - a menorah and non-religious symbols. 


So a nativity alone is not legal, a nativity with a menorah and non-religious symbols is ok.

Here, we have a cross, a pagan goddess and non-religious symbols. It is not a blanket rubber stamp of Christianity.
Azure-Citizen
For Amlord,

You provided references to cases that involved a nativity scene during the Christmas holiday when the holiday symbol of another major faith was included in the temporary display (thank you). However, there is a difference when we're talking about a major symbol of a faith (a Christian Cross, the Jewish Star of David, the Islamic Crescent, etc). The city seal is also a more permanent emblem, which represents the city's authority on everything it is displayed year round.

You've pointed out that the seal only has a cross, a pagan goddess, and several non-religious symbols. I'm afraid that in order to meet your burden on these grounds, you would need to show that the seal contained the major faith symbols of several different major faiths.

For Aquilla,

QUOTE(Aquilla)
For those of you who are lawyers out there and wonder why your profession is so often looked at with distain by others. This is a perfect example of why. mad.gif


As you and I are friends here on A.D. (and I do respect you and your opinions), I'll take it that your comment wasn't personally directed to me but at lawyers in general. But if you will allow me to do so, I can provide some insight into what most lawyers think about that sentiment.

Lawyers are very accustomed to being disdained and vilified on account of the principles or legal positions they represent; they learn it very early on. When it happens, the vitriol and hatred always comes from the other side, i.e., the people opposing the people you represent in whatever suit or issue they are embroiled in. They ascribe the worst possible motives to your actions and sometimes they simply hate you.

Likewise, your own clients are quick to do the same with opposing counsel, whoever that happens to be. Lawyers often find themeselves in the ironic position of trying to dissipate the client's anger and get them to see that the opposing counsel is not some vicious monster, but just an advocate for the other side.

Is there really a solution for this? Can people really be objective about the issues they are embroiled in and give the lawyer on the opposing side the benefit of the doubt that they are simply doing their job without those hard feelings? I doubt it. Its a part of human nature. But in response to what you were saying, please know that very few lawyers wonder why people feel that way. And if you're a people oriented person like I am, it takes its toll.
DaffyGrl
QUOTE
TennesseeLeftWinger said: I hardly think that the ACLU is a big monster that is out there simply to "take people on" and "take religion out of the public sphere." The only times that the ACLU challenges something religious are when the government either displays an overtly religious symbol, or someone's religious freedom has been infringed upon. The ACLU doesn't aim to take religion from the public sphere, in fact they often fight to keep it there. Provided it isn't the government endorsing one religion over another, the ACLU will fight just as hard to keep religion where it is.

OK, maybe I’m just not too sharp today, but I’m having trouble following this thought. How can you “keep religion in the public sphere” while at the same time removing “overtly religious symbols”?

And no one has addressed the fact that the ACLU is perfectly OK with Los Angeles using a depiction of a Catholic church with a history of enslaving native peoples in lieu of the tiny gold cross on the seal. So, is the ACLU going to turn around in a year or so when all the seals have been revamped and represent the Gabrielenos that want to sue Los Angeles? (Disclaimer: I believe the missions are an important part of California history, and as a history buff, I enjoy that aspect and admire their beauty, but the fact remains they are Catholic houses of worship.)

I can’t believe I’m in agreement with the political conservatives on this one. w00t.gif

Edited to add:
QUOTE
Amlord said: There is only one source of funds for the county--the county taxpayers.

And there it is in a nutshell. Because of the ACLU's threat, we taxpayers are going to pay for something so trivial and unimportant in the grand scheme of broken things that need to be fixed. This is the last thing LA needs.
Aquilla
QUOTE(Azure-Citizen @ Jun 3 2004, 12:32 PM)
For Aquilla,

QUOTE(Aquilla)
For those of you who are lawyers out there and wonder why your profession is so often looked at with distain by others. This is a perfect example of why. mad.gif


As you and I are friends here on A.D. (and I do respect you and your opinions), I'll take it that your comment wasn't personally directed to me but at lawyers in general. But if you will allow me to do so, I can provide some insight into what most lawyers think about that sentiment.

Lawyers are very accustomed to being disdained and vilified on account of the principles or legal positions they represent; they learn it very early on. When it happens, the vitriol and hatred always comes from the other side, i.e., the people opposing the people you represent in whatever suit or issue they are embroiled in. They ascribe the worst possible motives to your actions and sometimes they simply hate you.

Likewise, your own clients are quick to do the same with opposing counsel, whoever that happens to be. Lawyers often find themeselves in the ironic position of trying to dissipate the client's anger and get them to see that the opposing counsel is not some vicious monster, but just an advocate for the other side.

Is there really a solution for this? Can people really be objective about the issues they are embroiled in and give the lawyer on the opposing side the benefit of the doubt that they are simply doing their job without those hard feelings? I doubt it. Its a part of human nature. But in response to what you were saying, please know that very few lawyers wonder why people feel that way. And if you're a people oriented person like I am, it takes its toll.

I was wondering if that might get your attention, Azure-Citizen. smile.gif


And no, it wasn't directed specifically at you, nor Jagwease, nor any of the other attorneys that participate here. It actually wasn't directed at any specific lawyers at all, but rather the profession and the system and how it gets abused. I think in this instance, that is the case. The ACLU didn't "win" this action because it was justice and right, they won because the County of Los Angeles didn't think it was prudent spending taxpayer money to fight it. That was a political decision based on money, not on what was right and wrong. And, it seems to me in my experience that's how a lot of things happen these days in our legal system. I've had it happen to me in my own personal life where I've been given the legal advice to settle a lawsuit that I would win because winning that lawsuit would cost me more in legal fees than settling up front. So, I settled and saved some cash. Thus, I can understand the actions of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Was justice served? Is our society somehow better or safer for that? Has the ACLU once again stepped to the forefront and "protected us all" from tyranny? Hardly, indeed if there is any tyranny here, it is a tyranny of the minority who would wish to remove the rich historical heritage from the County of Los Angeles because of some supposed "offense" at the recognition of that history.

I believe this to be an abuse of our legal system and as an "officer" of that system, I am surprised that you aren't offended by it. This isn't a case of "right and wrong", it's a pure cost issue of "what is cheaper", and that's just wrong.

Some here have raised the prospect of having a Star of David or a Muslim crescent on a city seal and wouldn't that offend a Christian. As a Christian Methodist, my response is no, it wouldn't offend me, most certainly if that symbol was a symbol of historic significance. If my city had been founded by a Jewish community and to reflect that the seal of the city contained the Star of David, that wouldn't offend me in the slightest. It would simply be a reflection of the historical role played by the Jewish community in my city. There's nothing wrong with that, nothing at all. It is a non-issue, just as this should be a non-issue and quite frankly, as a Christian I resent these actions in denying the heritage of my city.
Amlord
There is clearly a double standard when it comes to Christian versus non-Christian religious symbols in public places.

For example, in Sechler v. State College Area School District (2000)
the US District Court ruled that "the mere existence of symbols from non-Christian religions did not constitute an endorsement of those religious beliefs and the absence of Christian symbols did not constitute either express or implied hostility towards religion. "

Yet ANY Christian symbol is immediately identified as exclusionary, demeaning, or otherwise harmful to the civil liberties of non-Christians. wacko.gif

DaffyGrl makes an excellent point that the solution here (accepted by the ACLU) is to replace the Latin Cross with a Spanish Mission. wacko.gif I think we will be back to this in a few years, at further taxpayer expense.
Cube Jockey
QUOTE(Amlord @ Jun 3 2004, 01:23 PM)
For example, in Sechler v. State College Area School District (2000)
the US District Court ruled that "the mere existence of symbols from non-Christian religions did not constitute an endorsement of those religious beliefs and the absence of Christian symbols did not constitute either express or implied hostility towards religion. "

Which would have been an excellent case for the attorneys for the County of LA to bring up in court, as well as some of the other points here.

However, that won't happen because the County basically rolled over and submitted to the will of the ACLU. That is the fault of the County.

I still don't see where the ACLU is at fault here, the very mission statement of the ACLU says as much. I still maintain they were doing their job, by continuing to bring cases to the attention of the judicial system.

Sometimes they win the case and sometimes they lose it, but to suggest that they shouldn't file the case in the first place runs counter to their mission and I'm surprised that some of the supporters could accept this compromise to their integrity.

Regardless of the cost of tax payer money, religious symbols in our government are a constitutional issue the ACLU frequently takes on. If the ACLU stopped to think about the convenience of a legal case every time it filed, nothing would ever get done. They act upon principles.

If a judge were to have ruled in favor of the County of LA then I wouldn't have had a problem with it, he'd probably be right. But when the County doesn't even opt to take a stand, they can't blame the ACLU for picking on them in the same breath.
Azure-Citizen
Daffygrl, I apologize for not addressing your concern about substituting a church building for the cross. In a nutshell, although it may feel like semantics, the Supreme Court would likely draw a distinction between a major faith symbol (the Christian Cross) and a building (even though it is a Catholic Church). One is a more distinct and obvious symbol of a major religious faith, while the other is not immediately recognizable as an endorsement or symbol of religion. The ACLU may have been amenable to this proposal because 1) a building is not the same as a major faith symbol, 2) the building still relates a historical message of the area's culture, 3) and as long as it does not violate separation of church and state, the ACLU has no business telling the city it can't use a building on the seal instead of a major faith symbol.

Aquilla, thanks for making your feelings clear. smile.gif The only counterpoints I can think to offer is that who is "right" and who is "wrong" is a very subjective call here, personal to the opinions and perceptions of the individual. Popularity also plays into those feelings. Often, we have to fall back on what the Courts would say is constitutionally right or wrong, and accept the answer because that is how our society sorts out these problems. If the ACLU v. City of Los Angeles case had made its way up to the Supreme Court, you can probably guess the likely outcome. The ACLU tends to be the champion of the unpopular minority; the real kicker is, in terms of the law, the ACLU is often right.

Amlord, if I may point out, you cited a case which again did not involve major faith symbols (Christian Crosses, Jewish Stars, Islamic Crescents) in permanent goverment emblems, but religious holiday items put out by school students at a temporary lunchroom display (a Menorah, a Kwanzaa candle, and some books on Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and comparative studies between holiday celebrations). However, I think the point you are trying to get across is that the Court did not rule against the school despite the fact that there was no Christian item on display. Still, some of the other cases you cited previously have the same scenario; for example, in Lynch v. Donnelly, the Court still allowed the display (which included the Christian components), even though not all major religions were represented. I think it is difficult to make the case that Christianity is being discriminated against in Government over other major faiths.

edited: spelling
Amlord
I, for one, admitted that this was the purpose of the ACLU. Can't blame them for working towards their goals, I guess.

What I do have a problem with is the timing and the relative frivolity of this suit (or potential suit). I don't see how someone can blame the county for "rolling over" when the fact is that if they lose, they pay twice.

The mere fact that the county acquiesced so quickly indicates they have no hidden agenda promoting Christianity. All they care about is their budget. Upon analysis, the risk was too great to do anything besides change the Seal, despite the costs.

The fact remains, however, that it is the ACLU who pushed the issue. They probably hadn't even lined up a figurehead to pay... I mean a protesting citizen. The ACLU is costing the county (potentially) millions of dollars. I guess I'm lucky it's not my tax dollars... unsure.gif ... this time.
TennesseeLeftWinger
QUOTE(DaffyGrl @ Jun 3 2004, 03:48 PM)
QUOTE
TennesseeLeftWinger said: I hardly think that the ACLU is a big monster that is out there simply to "take people on" and "take religion out of the public sphere." The only times that the ACLU challenges something religious are when the government either displays an overtly religious symbol, or someone's religious freedom has been infringed upon. The ACLU doesn't aim to take religion from the public sphere, in fact they often fight to keep it there. Provided it isn't the government endorsing one religion over another, the ACLU will fight just as hard to keep religion where it is.


OK, maybe I’m just not too sharp today, but I’m having trouble following this thought. How can you “keep religion in the public sphere” while at the same time removing “overtly religious symbols”?


The point I was trying to make is that they fight to remove overtly religious symbols when they are displayed on on government property and were put there by the government. You can easily retain religion in the public sphere... have a prayer gathering in a mall or in a public square, host a religious teach-in at a school, set up a booth promoting a religion in a public space. There are numerous ways to retain religion in the public sphere while ensuring that the government isn't endorsing one over the other. Sorry for any lack of clarity; it made sense to me whistling.gif .


QUOTE(Aquilla)
Too bad we don't have a "Best of" category for most convoluted logic. This would win hands down. The ACLU threatens a lawsuit in order to remove a small cross from a seal. Knowing that it's going to cost money to defend the lawsuit, the county caves and agrees to remove the cross from the seal at a considerable cost I might add. Meanwhile, they are shutting down trauma centers and emergency rooms around the county because of a lack of money.


Now, now, play nice. That's quite an extrapolation you're making here. Shutting down emergency rooms because of this? I hardly think that this will go that far. Show me the actual/projected costs here and perhaps I'll agree, but I hardly think that this will result in the forced closings of hospitals, etc. Look, the ACLU is doing its job. The ACLU told them simply, "you change this or we will." The ACLU isn't bullying them! The ACLU gave them the option; they made the decision. If they wanted to bring up these points, they should have pursued the case. But, for the sake of expediency they settled. I don't vilify the ACLU for fulfilling its mission, and I don't vilify LA for doing what it thought was right. But, to say that they didn't have the option to save money by going to trial isn't correct. It has been mentioned that there are numerous organizations that would have taken this case pro bono, and if LA lost the case, they'd be where they are today. I think that either side probably had a fighting chance here. The ACLU had every right to file this suit; it's their job to stop this. LA had every chance to have their day in court, more than likely with very minimal, if any, legal costs. And Cube Jockey says it best:

QUOTE
The law must be applied universally, and sometimes that means doing things that are unpopular or seem frivolous.


Indeed, we must respect the law regardless of our feelings or of the relative convenience of the issue.
Lesly
QUOTE(Amlord @ Jun 3 2004, 04:23 PM)
For example, in Sechler v. State College Area School District (2000) the US District Court ruled that "the mere existence of symbols from non-Christian religions did not constitute an endorsement of those religious beliefs and the absence of Christian symbols did not constitute either express or implied hostility towards religion. "


There's some confusion about constitutional rulings. Here is a very good FindLaw article on the constitutionality of religious symbols and their place in secular society:

QUOTE
But suppose a display sweeps more broadly -- such as the one in Pennsylvania, which featured a crèche, a menorah, and a Kwanzaa scene, and was erected not under the auspices of religion, but those of "multiculturalism."

In that event, there is no Establishment Clause violation. The message is not one of endorsement for a particular religious viewpoint. It is a message that the government is acknowledging the celebrations of its various citizens. And that is perfectly constitutional.

It is also constitutional, however, for a given Town Hall, school, or other government facility, to have no holiday display at all -- or a predominantly, or even completely, secular display.

As noted above, with respect to the firehouse controversy, no citizen is entitled to have the government acknowledge religion during the holidays -- though each is entitled, thanks to the Free Exercise Clause, to erect any private religious display he or she might wish to. At the same time, there is no constitutional right not to be exposed to the holidays, either.


For 2 decades the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that public schools can't display one religious symbol to the exclusion of all others. Public schools, can, however, pass The Establishment Clause test by displaying at least two religious symbols. Christmas/seasonal images like Christmas trees and holiday banners do not apply; these are by and large secular props. Some people fail to make the distinction, erroneously remove secular props, and rub Christians the wrong way. That's not the SC's fault.

The District Court ruled correctly in the case you cited, Amlord. Past rulings on religious inclusion require the display of at least two religions. That doesn't mean Christianity must be represented. Once the government guarantees Christianity is represented in secular society it endorses a religion.
DaffyGrl
QUOTE
TennesseeLeftWinger: The point I was trying to make is that they fight to remove overtly religious symbols when they are displayed on on government property and were put there by the government. You can easily retain religion in the public sphere... have a prayer gathering in a mall or in a public square, host a religious teach-in at a school, set up a booth promoting a religion in a public space. There are numerous ways to retain religion in the public sphere while ensuring that the government isn't endorsing one over the other. Sorry for any lack of clarity; it made sense to me  .

OK, I get what you're saying now. I will say this as an agnostic-a prayer gathering in a mall or public square would T me off more than a little bitty cross on an emblem I rarely notice. As for a religious teach-in - I don't think that's allowed by law, is it?

Azure-Citizen - it sounds like splitting hairs to me, but I guess that's why we have those big fat legal books. wink.gif

I think the prevalence of religious dogma spewed forth by our political leaders is a far more dangerous and insidious problem than a minute depiction of a cross (or a "T" as the Rev suggests). Can I call the ACLU and have them sue the president? mrsparkle.gif
TennesseeLeftWinger
QUOTE(DaffyGrl @ Jun 3 2004, 05:23 PM)
QUOTE
TennesseeLeftWinger: The point I was trying to make is that they fight to remove overtly religious symbols when they are displayed on on government property and were put there by the government. You can easily retain religion in the public sphere... have a prayer gathering in a mall or in a public square, host a religious teach-in at a school, set up a booth promoting a religion in a public space. There are numerous ways to retain religion in the public sphere while ensuring that the government isn't endorsing one over the other. Sorry for any lack of clarity; it made sense to me  .


OK, I get what you're saying now. I will say this as an agnostic-a prayer gathering in a mall or public square would T me off more than a little bitty cross on an emblem I rarely notice. As for a religious teach-in - I don't think that's allowed by law, is it?


Indeed, I'd say it would. But the point is that the government isn't endorsing either of those. It's my understanding that the teach-in is quite permissible, as long as it doesn't occur during school hours and isn't sponsored by the school or any school faculty. Keep in mind that the faculty can attend-- just not in their official capacity as teachers. Don't you just love the first amendment? laugh.gif
Aquilla
QUOTE(TennesseeLeftWinger @ Jun 3 2004, 02:10 PM)

QUOTE(Aquilla)
Too bad we don't have a "Best of" category for most convoluted logic. This would win hands down. The ACLU threatens a lawsuit in order to remove a small cross from a seal. Knowing that it's going to cost money to defend the lawsuit, the county caves and agrees to remove the cross from the seal at a considerable cost I might add. Meanwhile, they are shutting down trauma centers and emergency rooms around the county because of a lack of money.


Now, now, play nice. That's quite an extrapolation you're making here. Shutting down emergency rooms because of this? I hardly think that this will go that far. Show me the actual/projected costs here and perhaps I'll agree, but I hardly think that this will result in the forced closings of hospitals, etc. Look, the ACLU is doing its job. The ACLU told them simply, "you change this or we will." The ACLU isn't bullying them! The ACLU gave them the option; they made the decision. If they wanted to bring up these points, they should have pursued the case. But, for the sake of expediency they settled. I don't vilify the ACLU for fulfilling its mission, and I don't vilify LA for doing what it thought was right. But, to say that they didn't have the option to save money by going to trial isn't correct. It has been mentioned that there are numerous organizations that would have taken this case pro bono, and if LA lost the case, they'd be where they are today. I think that either side probably had a fighting chance here. The ACLU had every right to file this suit; it's their job to stop this. LA had every chance to have their day in court, more than likely with very minimal, if any, legal costs.

I never said that they were closing trauma centers and ERs because of this. What I said was that that was happening because of budget constraints. Now, put yourself in the position of a politician who has just voted to close an Emergency Room in Los Angeles because of budget constraints then turns around and votes for an authorization of several thousands of dollars if not more to fight a lawsuit over the county seal. Realistically, is any politician going to do that? Would you, regardless of what the issue was if it was simply a symbol? The ACLU wasn't and isn't elected and they don't represent the people. They don't run for re-election, they just raise funds and do pretty much whatever they want to do. In this case, they had the upper hand and they knew it and they played it. They knew there was no way LA was going to fight this simply from a financial standpoint.

Now people here can support this action of the ACLU if they wish to, it is their right. But I would ask them to consider the fact that they are supporting an organization that uses the opportunity of a fiscal crisis in local government to extract a make-believe "victory" on an issue of their own creation. You call it "doing their job", I call it exploiting the circumstances.
TennesseeLeftWinger
QUOTE(Aquilla @ Jun 3 2004, 06:19 PM)
I never said that they were closing trauma centers and ERs because of this.   What I said was that that was happening because of budget constraints.   Now, put yourself in the position of a politician who has just voted to close an Emergency Room in Los Angeles because of budget constraints then turns around and votes for an authorization of several thousands of dollars if not more to fight a lawsuit over the county seal.   Realistically, is any politician going to do that?  Would you, regardless of what the issue was if it was simply a symbol?   The ACLU wasn't and isn't elected and they don't represent the people.  They don't run for re-election, they just raise funds and do pretty much whatever they want to do.  In this case, they had the upper hand and they knew it and they played it.  They knew there was no way LA was going to fight this simply from a financial standpoint. 

Now people here can support this action of the ACLU if they wish to, it is their right.   But I would ask them to consider the fact that they are supporting an organization that uses the opportunity of a fiscal crisis in local government to extract a make-believe "victory" on an issue of their own creation.    You call it "doing their job", I call it exploiting the circumstances.

When I said:
QUOTE
Shutting down emergency rooms because of this?  I hardly think that this will go that far.  Show me the actual/projected costs here and perhaps I'll agree, but I hardly think that this will result in the forced closings of hospitals, etc.


I meant that I hardly think that the costs of these options would result in the closing of hospitals. I still maintain that they could easily have found an organization willing to take the case pro bono. You're right, the ACLU isn't elected, but they do represent the people. They represent those whose rights have been violated, even if you don't see it that way. But isn't what you said typical of any special interest group? Don't they all just "raise funds and pretty much do whatever they want"? Of course they knew they had the upper hand, but I don't believe that they're exploiting the circumstances. I think that they're ensuring that the law applies equally everywhere. I also don't believe that they simply went after LA in this case because it was expedient to do so. They go after any town that has done such things as LA, some in excellent fiscal condition and some not. The ACLU doesn't just go after those they know can't fight them. And from the number of times that the ACLU has gone to court over such cases, it's easy to see that they don't always pick the ones that will acquiesce easily.

Edited to add:
The ACLU doesn't have free reign, either. They do answer to a court which doesn't always rule in their favor. If they weren't ensuring equal application of the law and were filing frivolous lawsuits, don't you think that they would be losing a lot more cases than they are?
redliner1989
Not to butt in, but on the subject of what this might cost.

I do have a little experience in this, not in a City setting, but with a small shopping center (60,000 square feet).

The new Owners of a Center I once managed decided to change the name of the center. If I remember right, not including the legal fee's neccessary to make the name change (which were pretty minor), the total cost of this change was $23,000.00.

This should give you an idea of what the cost of changing identity can run.
quarkhead
Just a few thoughts:

What if, instead of a cross, there was a little symbol of a black person hanging from a tree? Or a little depiction of native Americans being shot? Would that bother anyone who is insisting this cross is purely for historical significance? I say this not to equate the symbols, obviously; rather, to point out that we cannot divest a symbol from its meaning, whether or not it is being looked at primarily in an historical context. And, while some of you have stated that if the symbol on the seal were instead a Star of David (or whatever), it wouldn't bother you, so no big deal. Of course, that's fine, but you're being naive if you don't think it would bother the heck out of some people!

The ACLU has always stood on solid principles. They have defended conservatives, liberals, Christians, Muslims, atheists, and racists. Sean Hannity may be one of the leaders of the oh-so-trite 'bash the ACLU' gobbledigook, but what he doesn't tell you is that when he was fired from his college radio station for his conservative views, it was the ACLU that took his case - and won.

I am especially distraught at the underhanded economic choices being offered up by Aquilla and Amlord. Presenting these choices - trauma centers or spending money to change the seal. It's dishonest to do this. Why, I could come into any given thread about the WOT and say the same exact thing. Why are we choosing to spend billions of dollars invading Iraq, instead of using that money to build hospitals and homeless shelters? Of course I don't say that - it's inane, a false logic. Furthermore, I would've thought you conservatives would want those trauma centers to be built by the private sector, anyway! tongue.gif

The truth is, we don't always write laws (or approve county seals) with an unjaundiced eye to the law. It's dishonest to object to rectifying something which never should have been approved (in a legal sense) in the first place, on the grounds that it will cost too much money, or it should just stay the way it is - no biggie. This country's discrimination laws were unconstitutional. They could not stand legal muster. Perhaps we should not have ended them, though - seeing how it would cost a lot of tax money to change all the signs on all those water fountains (etc) - couldn't that money be better spent on hospitals, after all? smile.gif
carlitoswhey
QUOTE(Government Mule @ Jun 3 2004, 01:04 PM)
QUOTE(carlitoswhey @ Jun 3 2004, 10:51 AM)


I know it's the left coast, but really how a cross on the LA county seal be the same as congress making a law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

To answer your question on how this could be the same thing, I would like to mention that local government is, and should be, held to the same rules as the Federal Government.

A religious symbol is ok for a county seal but not ok for the American Flag? To me that makes no sense.

The lines regarding Separation of Church and state are very, very clear. I don't see any need for grey areas, and again, I am proud that a group of unelected officials are making sure that our elected officials stay within the boundries of the law. A cross on a County Seal in the United States of America "crosses" (for lack of a better word) that line.

Well, at least we still have God on the money!

To show my ignorance here, doesn't "Congress shall make no law" only apply to Congress? If the 9th amendment left everything else up to the states and the people, why can't a town seal be overtly Christian or Jewish? Ok, I know that the case law since then has determined it so, but perhaps we are getting out of hand in interpreting the document rather than simply reading it once in a while. While I understand the concepts of case law and precedent (I am NOT a lawyer smile.gif ), I suppose I'm just a simpleton and disagree that a cross on a county seal in a town named after "The Angels" is the gov't endorsing a religion. At least not if you don't change the town name. What sort of angels were the founders imagining?

The ACLU does tons of great work - for example on preserving religion in the public sphere, where they sue parks to keep them from banning religious ceremonies, etc. However, I sometimes wonder if those parks wouldn't have tried to ban religious ceremonies if not for the anti-religion tenor invoked by frivolous lawsuits by that same ACLU. hmmm.gif
Dontreadonme
You make a good case Quark, and I'm not here to bash the ACLU. But the bottom line in this case for me is, a person does not have the right to not be offended. We live in a diverse country, and I see things everyday that I don't care for, don't understand or just wish not to have to look at. But I rise above the emotion because I know that it doesn't affect me in terms of equal rights, civil rights or protection under the law.
The same goes for the seal of LA. Any clear thinking atheist, Jew, Muslim or agnostic is going to know that the seal simply represents the founding and heritage of the city. It does not have an iota of an effect on the law or the government.
Clear thinking people will know the cross represents the influence of the church and the missions of California.
And I would actually have more respect for the ACLU's position if they were calling for the re-naming of the county and city, along with removing pagan goddess Pomona from the seal.

QUOTE
Douglas W. Kmiec, chairman and professor of constitutional law at the Pepperdine University School of Law, said there is little in U.S. Supreme Court precedents that would "demand such erasure of history."

"I think this is unfortunately an all-too-commonplace effort to revise history and to expunge from the historical record all evidence of religious belief," Kmiec said. "It would be hard, it seems to me, to conclude that anyone seeing the seal of Los Angeles County would feel coerced to believe in a particular religious faith."

Link
Thank you for a breath of sanity Mr. Kmiec thumbsup.gif
Azure-Citizen
I think the way we frame the issue in this case impacts greatly on how we arrive at our conclusions.

Is this case really about a person's "right to not be offended?" There is no such right. Isn't that a convenient simplification that avoids attacking the real arguments the ACLU would have put forth in this case?

Quoting Professor Kmiec:
QUOTE
"I think this is unfortunately an all-too-commonplace effort to revise history and to expunge from the historical record all evidence of religious belief"

(This is in response to the Professor's comments, and not to DTOM) Again, is this really what the ACLU wants to do? If so, why does the ACLU campaign on behalf of religous freedoms when Government suppresses it?
Aquilla
Last word on this subject from me.

I have never claimed in this thread that hospital trauma rooms or Emergency Rooms have been closed as a result of this threatened lawsuit by the ACLU. That hasn't happened because of this. I have pointed out though that such things have happened because of the revenue problems that are being faced by Los Angeles County and all other counties in California. I brought this up in this discussion to explain why Los Angeles County may have caved on this issue to the ACLU. Their priority is in paying for basic human services for the people of Los Angeles County, not for paying for a court battle over a lawsuit concerning a symbol on the county shield. How in the hell does a politician explain to a grieving mother whose 10 year old son dies in a drive-by shooting that he didn't receive proper medical attention because the trauma center close to him was closed for "budget reasons" while at the same time the county spends thousands of dollars over keeping a small cross on the county shield? I couldn't do that, I couldn't explain that. If I can figure that out, so can the ACLU, they know everything. So, the county caved and gave up and they'll still end up spending quite alot of money to get rid of that cross from their cars and their offices and their letterheads and goodness knows what else and they'll wait until the next ACLU lawsuit comes in about something else that has offended someone and deal with that too, probably in the same way. Who knows, the City and County of Los Angeles may end up changing their name to "Ag City" or better yet, "Nochristianville". We can re-write history since it doesn't really count and raze all the missions and build parking lots or strip malls and change a whole bunch of names of streets and freeways that have an offensive connotation to someone. We can then pretend that Southern California just appeared one day, it just happened and that's all that one needs to know. Who the hell cares anyway, we're on the "left coast" and everyone knows we have "no culture". So, it really doesn't matter I guess.


It doesn't matter unless of course you live in someplace like St. Joseph, Missouri or a like named town. Watch out, you could be next. mad.gif

Edited to add.....

Perhaps one of our resident lawyers (if any of them are still talking to me unsure.gif ) can clarify one other point. I'm not sure that another outside group could step in and defend the county in this lawsuit pro bono without some sort of standing in the matter. If the county is the named defendant in such an action, don't they have to at least have some direct representation in the lawsuit?
Lethalletha
Geez, I live in the city of St. John. Most of the streets here are named after different saints. Guess the city is going to have to change every thing. This is really getting to be silly. What a waste of money. Please give me the money I can find more fun things to do with it.

What does Los Angels mean? Isn't it "City of Angels". Good grief, how is this forcing a religion on someone. Don't like the name and if offends you. No problem, move to a different city. There are lots of cities in this country. Get out a map and find a name that appeals to you.

This is one time the ACLU if off its rocker, in my opinion of course.
perspective
QUOTE(Aquilla @ Jun 4 2004, 02:05 AM)
Their priority is in paying for basic human services for the people of Los Angeles County, not for paying for a court battle over a lawsuit concerning a symbol on the county shield.


The cost of the litigation is irrelevant, they aren't fighting back:
QUOTE(referenced article)
To the outrage of many local residents, whose city was deemed years ago the "City of Churches," officials quietly agreed to remove the cross from the 40-year-old seal, rather than face the likelihood of costly litigation.Sacramento Bee Story

emphasis mine


QUOTE(DTOM)
Any clear thinking atheist, Jew, Muslim or agnostic is going to know that the seal simply represents the founding and heritage of the city.


This clear thinking atheist sees ALL religious references that are paid for with tax dollars as inappropriate. If folks want to represent founding and heritage, those groups that wish to denote their own heritage can pay for their symbols on their own funding, in their privately owned properties. We all, obviously, are not from the same heritage. And we all, obviously, do not agree on the founding principle of this country. People came here for very different reasons. The founding fathers came here to set up a country founded on religious freedom. In the name of honoring their founding principles, I see tax-funded religious idolatry as a sacrilege. It has nothing to do with my right or non-right to be offended. My offense at the symbol has nothing to do with it. It has to do with the seal that was designed, printed, and distributed with MY tax dollars.

You're right, no one has the right to be unoffended. But we do have the right to expect our tax dollars to stay divorced from religious persuasions of any kind.
droop224
I agree that whenever the ACLU makes someone change the name of their town because it has a Saint before the name of it, like St. Joseph, the ACLU will have gone too far. Till that day why can't those oppose to the ACLU stick to this subject and stop overreacting. At issue is the cross on the city emblem. As some one said earlier "By a show of hands..." who does not associate the cross in the emblem with the current religion of Christianity??

People opposed are taking this debate into crazy tailspins to avoid talking about the issue. Is that cross an endorsement of a religion. Placing a mission makes sense. It is compromising. You take away the religious endorsement but still leave a historical importance of the mission itself.

As to those that argue that they do not go after the Goddess Pomona means they are out to get just Christianity, please rethink this. The images on the seal are representative of things. The Goddess is a representation of a fruitful agriculture. What does the cross represent if not the Christian religion? That is the difference. The name of Los Angeles does not represent or endorse Christianity, the cross does.
Lethalletha
QUOTE(droop224 @ Jun 4 2004, 02:16 PM)
I agree that whenever the ACLU makes someone change the name of their town because it has a Saint before the name of it, like St. Joseph, the ACLU will have gone too far.  Till that day why can't those oppose to the ACLU stick to this subject and stop overreacting.  At issue is the cross on the city emblem.  As some one said earlier  "By a show of hands..." who does not associate the cross in the emblem with the current religion of Christianity?? 

People opposed are taking this debate into crazy tailspins to avoid talking about the issue.  Is that cross an endorsement of a religion.  Placing a mission makes sense.  It is compromising.  You take away the religious endorsement but still leave a historical importance of the mission itself. 

As to those that argue that they do not go after the Goddess Pomona means they are out to get just Christianity, please rethink this.  The images on the seal are representative of things.  The Goddess is a representation of a fruitful agriculture. What does the cross represent if not the Christian religion?  That is the difference.  The name of Los Angeles does not represent or endorse Christianity, the cross does.

QUOTE
The name of Los Angeles does not represent or endorse Christianity, the cross does



Los Angeles means "City of Angels". A cross shouldn't bother anyone. I personally find this just knocking Christiany. Sure many won't see it that way, but good grief, you tax dollars are wasing on alot more than a tiny cross on a county, or city seal. Instead of picking on the cross, why not just do away with the whole seal? That way no on can feel that one religion is being put above others.

This is another example of the ACLU making mountains out of mole hills. The odds are most people in Los Angeles don't even know what all the symbols are on the seal.
redliner1989
QUOTE
The Goddess is a representation of a fruitful agriculture. What does the cross represent if not the Christian religion?


To many (most Americans actually) it represents an ideal that one can sacrifice oneself for the betterment of the entirety, would you not agree?

To many the reason the building (the mission) was build, was because representatives of the "cross" built it.

Just my two cents worth.

Red
Bill55AZ
Any instance of intolerance of the symbols of the beliefs of others is indicative of a whiny, immature person. There is no guarantee that the world will always be the way we want it, at least not without stepping on the toes of others. Tolerance is not the correct word here, I think acceptance is better. The ACLU should pursue cases where the rights of others are actively being attacked, not when someone feels offended because someone else believes differently.
I was raised a Baptist (but no longer practice that faith), and have never felt offended when I see a building or symbol that represents another religion. It has never occurred to me to be upset over such a thing. It is called freedom of religion, and as long as those other religions are not actively attacking my beliefs, they can do what they want.
There is something wrong with a person or a group of people who go out of their way to be offended.
Caving in to these whiners is not a good idea. Eventually they will outnumber us and then watch what they "force" on us.
droop224
Do I hear music?? Cause some one is dancing... laugh.gif

QUOTE
To many (most Americans actually) it represents an ideal that one can sacrifice oneself for the betterment of the entirety, would you not agree?


I'm not sure if I agree, it depends what you are actually saying. The cross in and of itself does not represent the ideal of sacrifice. Instead it represents, to many, the sacrifice of Jesus who died for the sins of all humans, so that they may go to heaven. The problem with this is that only Christians believe that this sacrifice occurred. Therefore our dance has led us back to the cross is representing christianity.

QUOTE
To many the reason the building (the mission) was build, was because representatives of the "cross" built it.


And who are "representatives of the 'cross'"?? That would be Christians, correct? While agree with what you say in your second statement, the fact that Christians played a significant role to the development of Los Angelos does not mean that the State should pay homage to the Christian Religion by displaying the Cross on the city seal.
redliner1989
QUOTE
Do I hear music?? Cause some one is dancing... 


With all due respect, exactly where is the dance? blink.gif

Look, you want to "two step" go ahead, the point is that it does not take a "Christian" to relate to someone who willingly sacrifices one's self for the betterment of the masses. Is this a concept that is remotely foreign?

The followers of this leader were the ones that built the mission. Without "dancing" too much, this is Historical fact. Nothing more, nothing less. Knowing that this "symbol" upsets people is of no real consequence to me. Of course it would appear my skins thick enough to handle symbols.

Take care

Red
droop224
Well, I thought the dance was in your previous post. This was what you said

QUOTE
To many (most Americans actually) it represents an ideal that one can sacrifice oneself for the betterment of the entirety, would you not agree?

To many the reason the building (the mission) was build, was because representatives of the "cross" built it.


In this whole post you never mentioned, Christian, or Christianity. Yet who are the "many (most Americans actually)" that you refer to that believe the cross "represents an ideal that one can sacrifice oneself for the betterment of the entirety" What people outside of Christians would believe this?? It is only Christians that believe that Jesus died on the cross to sacrifice for all.

Then you used "representatives of the 'cross'". Who are representatives of the cross?? hmmm.gif Christians!!! Of course I agree that it would be Christians that would build a Mission to convert indigenous people to Christianity. But does the cross more represent those Missionaries and their Missions or Christianity as a whole.

I forget who says it but "religion is what we believe, not what we do" The cross does not represent the creation of buildings, it represent the beliefs of the people who built the Missions. It is an endorsement of their religious beliefs, not their works.

Would you agree??
Azure-Citizen
One of the things I've seen several times in this thread is a slippery-slope argument about how the names of cities and towns could come under attack for having names connected with religion.

Give it up, it's not going to happen; that issue has nothing to do with the issue at hand. Just because a city is named Los Angeles ("City of Angels") or St. Josephs (after a Catholic saint) or anything else with possible religious conotations does not make it an impermissible endorsement of religion by the government. It doesn't even come close. A city is not the government, it is a place. The name is entrenched in its history. Most of the names are very old now and even if they did have a religious basis in the choice of naming by the original residents, it has become a secular reality. The ACLU is not going to run around trying to get cities renamed on account of there being some possible religious interpretation or significance in the name of the place.

The only scenario I can think of where such a situation would come into play would be if there was a city today (lets call it "Springfield" out of homage to something we might see in a Simpsons episode) where the elders and the city government got together and decide to name the place "Christiantown," issuing a proclamation that this is done to inform all who come there that the people living therein are good law abiding Christian folk. Now you've got an actual act, directly by the government, to establish religion, with no longstanding intervening period (hundreds of years) to give the name a secular basis.

The mission of the ACLU is not to rub out all religious influence in the history and culture in America. If you think it is, then how do you explain the fact that the ACLU has taken and won cases for citizens fighting government to express their religious beliefs? Would someone who is anti-ACLU please address this?

They are tolerant of people's religious beliefs. Why paint them as taking up cases when "someone feels offended over someone else's religious beliefs?" This is not what the ACLU is doing. That argument is just a straw man fallacy, designed to change the opponent's position to something it is not and then deride it as "whiny and immature."

----

QUOTE(Aquilla)
Perhaps one of our resident lawyers (if any of them are still talking to me unsure.gif ) can clarify one other point.   I'm not sure that another outside group could step in and defend the county in this lawsuit pro bono without some sort of standing in the matter.  If the county is the named defendant in such an action, don't they have to at least have some direct representation in the lawsuit?

Aquilla, you and I will always be on speaking terms thumbsup.gif We can always tolerate each other's opinions, right? If I understand your question correctly, you're asking if an outside group can step in and represent the City's case pro bono without the City staying involved in the matter (i.e., agreeing to the free representation); you are correct, the outside group would not have standing. You've got to have the cooperation of one of the parties who has standing to be able to represent them. However, despite this, you could still file an amicus brief with the Court stating legal arguments on behalf of the issues, if the parties who do have standing took the matter to trial (they just didn't invite you to specifically represent one of them).

The only thing I can think of to help fight for the seal would be an attempt by concerned local citizens to seek an injunction from a judge prohibiting the city government from changing the seal on some sort of equitable grounds (a very remote longshot at best). The ACLU would then presumably move to intervene in that case, and you'd be able to have the argument there (between the outside pro bono group, fighting on behalf of the seal, and the ACLU, using establishment grounds).
Aquilla
Thanks for the explanation, Azure-Citizen and yes, we wiil always remain friends and "tolerate" each other's opinions. unsure.gif At least, I'll tolerate yours. laugh.gif I know I said previously that I was making my last post on this matter, but I believe it was that great 20th Century philosopher, Yogi Berra, who once said, "It ain't over 'till it's over", and folks, it ain't over yet. While the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors cowers in the face of the jack-booted ACLU lawyer thugs, apparently others in Los Angeles don't, and they won't. From The Pasadena Star News we have the following.....

QUOTE
In a massive public outcry, angry letters, e-mails and phone calls flooded the offices of the Los Angeles County supervisors on Thursday after they agreed to the ACLU's demand to remove a tiny Christian cross from the county seal.
Four conservative legal foundations offered to fight the case to the Supreme Court, accusing the county of caving in to "anti-religious bias."

And Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, who blocked an effort to banish the cross from the seal a decade ago, weighed in with an open letter to the supervisors.

"To remove the cross would be to deny the historical record," Mahony wrote. "I represent some 40 percent of the inhabitants in this great county who strongly feel that being politically correct' also entails being historically correct."'



From the "Letters to the Editor" section of the Los Angeles Times.....

QUOTE
The ACLU has saved me money. I was annoyed by the story, and all the fuss the ACLU has made over the L.A. County seal. Fortunately, the story came only one day after I received a dues renewal request from the ACLU. This kind of "time on my hands, who can I sue" mentality would be a waste of my retirement dollars. Thank you, ACLU; the check is not in the mail.

Kenneth Hahn


Now, I don't know if this is the Kenneth Hahn I'm thinking of or not, but if it is, this is really quite something. You see the last name of the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles is Hahn and his father "Kenny" was a long time fixture in Los Angeles politics. Something like 40 years as a Los Angeles County Supervisor and he had a hand in designing the county seal in 1956. When you tick off Kenny in LA, you have yourself a real tiger by the tail.

This could get real interesting I think. thumbsup.gif
Amlord
QUOTE(droop224 @ Jun 4 2004, 03:16 PM)
I agree that whenever the ACLU makes someone change the name of their town because it has a Saint before the name of it, like St. Joseph, the ACLU will have gone too far.  Till that day why can't those oppose to the ACLU stick to this subject and stop overreacting.  At issue is the cross on the city emblem.  As some one said earlier  "By a show of hands..." who does not associate the cross in the emblem with the current religion of Christianity?? 

See, here is the heart of the issue for me.

Who would not see a city name like "'Saint Paul" or "Saint Louis" or "Los Angeles" as emblems of Christianity?

I think the interpretation of this "wall of separation of Church and State" (a wall conceived by Jefferson well after the founding of this country, a personal belief of Jefferson) should include an examination of the intentions and the purposes behind whatever symbol is being discussed.

Can anyone credibly say that this county seal is influencing citizens to convert to Christianity? Can anyone say they are being coerced into some Christian belief? That this seal forces them to worship a certain way? Is it preventing non-Christians from worshipping in the way that they choose? Can anyone argue ANY of these points?

The county of Los Angeles maintains a website explaining every single symbol on its seal : COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES OFFICIAL SEAL Does anyone dispute the historical significance of these symbols? Can anyone say with a straight face that the brief explanation given by LA county is bogus and that the real intent is either "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"? 1st Amendment

I completely agree that the government should not establish a religion. It should not curtail the worship of anyone. Which actual clause of the US Constitution is violated here?

I see city names such as Saint Louis or Saint Paul or Saint Petersburg to be much more of an acknowledgement of Christianity than this symbol is (especially with the notable lack of Jewish, Hindu or Muslim city names ermm.gif ).

This action by the ACLU will cost the county in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. For what purpose? So a few lawyers can pat themselves on the back over a 50 year old symbol and say they beat "the man". It furthers no one's civil rights, it furthers no one's ability to worship freely. Conversely, it does not damage Christianity noticeably. It does not "turn off" Christians to their religion.

It serves no purpose. Isn't that the very definition of "frivolous lawsuit"?
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