Teen Arrested for Writing Threatening Letter Over Christmas Lights

Teen Arrested for Writing Threatening Letter Over Christmas Lights

The many Christmas light fights across America we have been documenting include a minor skirmish in the township of Elyria, Ohio where an elderly woman displaying a dozen strands of soft white and colored lights received a written threat about her display in mid-February. The writer of the threat has been identified and arrested by local police.

Rose Marie O’neal stays with her elderly mom to care for her and keep her company. This Christmas she was feeling extremely grateful for all of her blessings and strung Christmas lights across the bushes and trees in her mother’s front yard.

“I just thought they were nice and I like looking at them, it reminds me of all the good things I have to be grateful about,” said a kind and warmhearted Rose Marie.

She continued turning the lights on past the holidays to break up the dreary winter nights.

She says she and her mother truly enjoyed looking at the beautiful, colorful display.

But in February someone left an extremely angry letter in the family’s mailbox.

According to Elyria Police, it read, “Please take your d### Christmas lights down. Christmas and New Year’s have already passed and is no where near. I’m tired of seein’ that s###. Don’t make me tell you again. Thanks n####.”

“I’m just shocked and the way they said it was just so mean and nasty,” said Rose Marie. The family doesn’t want any trouble but they also feel they should be permitted to have the lights on their property. The display is not overdone and consists of only about a dozen or so strands of soft white and colorful lights. Rose Marie says if anyone had asked her politely she would’ve absolutely turned them off.

Police in Elyria, west of Cleveland, said a 15 year old girl was charged with disorderly conduct after the neighbor told officers she was threatened by the letter allegedly written and left by the teen. Police Capt. Chris Costantino told the local newspaper that the teen “thought it was going to be funny, but after she saw it on the news, she realized it was not so funny.”

Appeals Court Sides with Student Over Christmas Party Invites

Appeals Court Sides with Student Over Christmas Party Invites

Another battle in the war on Christmas appears to be over as the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court has ruled that a student can distribute flyers to a church Christmas party at school. We reported on this story more than a year ago as the incident involving a student known only as K.A. attempted to distribute a flyer inviting her classmates to her church Christmas party.

The student was denied the right do that based upon a school policy requiring approval of the school principal. When the student sought approval she was denied on the basis that her flyer violated the district’s policy barring material that “seeks to establish the supremacy of a particular religious denomination, sect or point of view”. The lawsuit that was brought forth cited violation of the student’s first amendment rights of free speech.

In defending the suit the school district claimed the flyers would prove a disruption at the school. The judges say there is no evidence the flyers would prove “disruptive” at school. That is the Supreme Court standard for free speech cases involving students. For the first time, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court is applying that standard to elementary school students.

In this case, the handout advertised a 2010 Christmas party at Innovation Church in Mt. Poconos, with face painting, music and games. The court noted that the Poconos Mountain School District lets students bring home flyers about other non-school events.

In an interesting twist, this is the same court that previously ruled that a preschooler could not distribute pencils promoting a Christian message to classmates.

Why Sarah Palin’s Christmas Book is a Bad Idea

Why Sarah Palin’s Christmas Book is a Bad Idea

The off-season news that former Vice Presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is writing a book about Christmas is not one we cheer. After all, the last thing the world needs is another politician or Fox News alum cashing in on the “war on Christmas”. But this book is coming and everyone already knows what it is going to say:

Her book, the publisher states, will make the argument for a more traditional Christmas that emphasizes the Christian theme behind the holiday. Palin will highlight “the importance of preserving Jesus Christ in Christmas,” whether that’s in public displays, school concerts or pageants. The book will also include personal memories and traditions from the most wonderful time of the year.

We don’t mean to be critical of Palin’s take on Christmas. In fact, we largely agree with it.

But the so-called “war on Christmas” is not really a war at all. That is a view we are confident Palin will not share. Christmas shows no signs of diminishing in our society despite the repeated arguments over Christmas in schools and displays on courthouse lawns.

In fact, if Christmas is really as religious in nature as Palin will insist she would be wise to leave this alone.

After all, schools do a poor job of teaching or representing religion (of any kind). Governments large and small are equally inept at explaining or even conveying religious significance of anything. Frankly, Christmas should be in schools as little as possible. After all, a school Christmas pageant does little to teach the religious side of Christmas. That does not mean we advocate banning Christmas from schools. It means we should be careful. Schools are made up of many kinds of individuals and providing an overwhelming amount of attention to one group displaces another. Just because Christmas gets billing with holidays and observances of other faiths does not mean it is being attacked.

Besides, there are bigger problems out there as it relates to Christmas.

If Palin is wise she would advise parents to teach the sacred part of Christmas better in the home. This is the more broad failure of society. Schools cannot be responsible for such teaching and if kids aren’t getting it then it is the fault of parents — not the schools. That would be a truly revolutionary take that would show Palin’s leadership.

We are not betting she will go there. The allure of brow beating school officials who get caught between warring factions in annual Christmas debates is too great and makes for more fun and games come December on Fox News. It’s old, it’s pointless and it is as traditional now at Christmas as trees and lights.

Palin would be wise as well to recognize the growing celebration of the secular Christmas. Many people, even Christians, celebrate Christmas more for the snowmen, candy canes and Santa Claus-factor than for religious purposes. Some Christians save their worship for Easter and use Christmas for more secular pursuits. Like it or not, that is the truth.

It should be recognized that there is a duality to the very word “Christmas”. It is both sacred and secular. The Freedom From Religion Foundation must be educated in these terms and Palin could contribute to this discussion.

The campaigns to label merchants who won’t say “Christmas” in their advertising, the threat of lawsuits against cities and school districts for using the word “Christmas”, the labeling of Christmas trees as “holiday trees” and even the false offense of saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” are sad byproducts of vocal Christmas combatants like Bill O’Reilly, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Humanist Society.

We hope Mrs. Palin does not become one of them. Sadly, this statement from her released in advance of the book, does not give us hope:

“Amidst the fragility of this politically correct era, it is imperative that we stand up for our beliefs before the element of faith in a glorious and traditional holiday like Christmas is marginalized and ignored. This will be a fun, festive, thought provoking book, which will encourage all to see what is possible when we unite in defense of our faith and ignore the politically correct Scrooges who would rather take Christ out of Christmas.”

The critics are already skewering her and, by proxy, all who love Christmas at the same time. Said the Washington Post in response to the book and what it might say:

“Why are you taking my Christmas tree, why?” Cindy Lou Palin-Who? would ask, looking sad, and the Grinch would reply that it was because Harry Reid had given him specific instructions to do so and that later he was going to come back with first lady Michelle Obama, take away Cindy Lou’s candy canes and force her to do jumping jacks. The one bright spot in an otherwise bleak story would be Cindy Lou’s discovery of Clean Coal in her stocking.

This is hardly dialogue that helps.

Middle Finger Christmas Lights Win Court Case

Middle Finger Christmas Lights Win Court Case

Sarah Childs had a beef with her neighbor and wanted the whole world to know about it. So on her property in Denham Springs, Louisiana she put up a Christmas lights display that was sure to get everyone’s attention: her lights prominently showcased the image of a human hand with the middle finger extended. When the local police department threatened her the whole thing ended up in court. That case was settled with the ACLU winning $15,000 for attorney’s fees and an agreement that Childs can continue to “flip the bird” at her neighbors.

The display got plenty of attention when it first went up in November 2012. Neighbors called police to complain and Denham Springs Police Corporal Shawn Perkins paid her a visit.

Corporal Perkins told WWL Radio the homeowner told him she put the display as a direct message to her neighbors.

“It was a message to an ongoing dispute she was having with other homeowners on that same street,” Perkins said. Perkins says he informed Henderson that the display was in violation of obscenity laws and that it must come down, or else. She agreed that it wasn’t worth the possible hassle of fines and legal action,” Perkins said.

However, the ACLU of Louisiana soon waded into the fray after the story was broadcast in local and national media. The ACLU sent an open letter to the Denham Springs Police Department “to ensure that no such fines are levied or other penalties imposed if Childs chooses to reinstall her controversial holiday display.”

In that letter, the ACLU wrote: “The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal, which presides over Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi, has specifically commented on the protected expressive nature of a middle finger extended in defiance or protest: “The thumbed nose, the projected middle finger, the Bronx cheer, the grimace and the smile are all conduct intended to convey a message that is sometimes made even more expressive by its bold freedom from a garb of words.” Davis v. Williams.”

With victory at hand Childs has given no indication of whether or not she will repeat the display.