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March 24, 2006
The Revenge Of The Easter Bunny

The city of St. Paul faces some pointed questions from its citizens demanding to know how the Easter Bunny offended the City Council. The council president ordered the removal of decorations hung by employees, including banners with the Easter Bunny and the message, "Happy Easter". St. Paul residents made plenty of angry and perplexed calls wondering whether cultural sensitivity would leave us with any culture at all:

The story of the bunny's eviction from the lobby of the City Council offices was the talk of the town on public airwaves, in skyways and on websites throughout the country on Thursday. Even Fox's Bill O'Reilly asked about it.

Those who agreed with the decision to pull the "Happy Easter" messages kept a relatively low profile; several city employees who applauded the move asked to remain unnamed.

But those on the other side were eager to be heard.

"I'm getting very tired of this trend by some of our elected officials to stifle out everything because just one person thinks it is offensive," said John Krenik, in a posting on a St. Paul E-Democracy online forum. "So I ask, what is next? Do we drop the St. Patrick's Day Parade because it is based on religious traditions?"

By lunchtime, City Council President Kathy Lantry's office had received 50 e-mails, the majority blasting her decision Wednesday to remove a banner, bunnies and eggs that greeted visitors to the City Council offices with the words, "Happy Easter."

Likewise, Human Rights Director Tyrone Terrill's voice mail was full and his office was barely keeping pace with the flood of e-mails, many of them hate-filled. Terrill had sent Lantry an e-mail saying "it would be a good thing" to take down the Easter decorations because they could be offensive to non-Christians.

There we have the two architects of one of the dumbest local-government decisions in recent memory. These two geniuses decided to insult their staff, disrupt city government, and irritate a vast majority of its citizens on the off chance that a gigantic rabbit with brightly-colored eggs would provide offense to some unnamed twits too insecure in their own beliefs to withstand exposure to the beliefs of others. Once again, government officials take it upon themselves to censor any hint of religious celebration, even something as innocuous as "Happy Easter" on a poster of the Easter Bunny.

Even super-lib Dave Thune thinks this is embarrassing -- and he's right.

The effort to strip any mention of religion from public life leads inevitably to these kind of stupid and knee-jerk decisions. When office employees cannot even decorate their work area in case one person could possibly get offended, we have opted for a complete jettisoning of all cultural celebrations. After all, if individual offense is the threshold, then almost no speech can be tolerated at public venues, especially political speech. And even besides that, where does the effort by Lantry and Terrill end? Do they intend on issuing an edict that forbids the mention of Easter in the office? If someone answers the phone by greeting callers with "Happy Easter", does that constitute an offense?

No one has a right to be free from being offended. Free speech and the free exercise of religion not only do not allow for it, they guarantee that all of us will be offended at one time or another. This action shows the leftist mindset that government must dictate all actions in order to impose the "correct" choices on the children which it governs. As my friend Mitch Berg often says about his city, everything that is not mandatory is banned ... apparently including the Easter Bunny, a victim of shrieking, hysterical paranoia that characterizes much of the governing philosophy of the St. Paul City Council.

UPDATE: CQ reader Dale B notes that the city will probably start thinking about changing its name next, given the religious implications of being named Saint Paul. I think he's kidding, but he may not be wrong. The only thing keeping the council from considering that would be the city's former name, Pig's Eye, which would offend the growing Muslim community of Somalian ex-pats. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if someone proposes changing the name to Wellstone.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 24, 2006 6:29 AM

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