Could We Make That "The City of Very Long-Lived People With Wings"?


I like the ACLU. Really, I do. But sometimes I'd swear they were smoking crack.

NEXT: The Agarns Among Us

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Wow. I’m usually first to call bullshit at “historical acknowledgement” arguments, belied in most cases by the very fervor with which the people who make them oppose some instance of church/state separation. But even I have no problem with this. And I’d take “In God We Trust” off the money given half a chance.

  2. I dumped the ACLU’s sorry ass after years of membership when they refused to challenge the non-judicial forfeiture laws that give Federal Prosecuters dictatorial powers.
    [Or would that be sorry asses?]

  3. Julian and Jesse,
    I couldn’t agree more. The biggest problem the ACLU tends to face is people will remember these over reaching cases but forget about the good work that has been done.

  4. I never thought I’d see a separation of church and state issue that went too far for me to agree with it. Hopefully they’re just doing this to make Newdow-type suits look more moderate. I think that’s the most charitable interpretation.

  5. Sometimes I have to wonder: if the State of Alabama were to declare Southern Baptist as the official religion of the state, would the ACLU even notice, or would they be too busy with cases like this one to notice?

  6. Xlrg,

    He he he, you’re getting to close to reality man. Some Alabama legislators tried to do that very thing in 1999.

  7. Wait till the find out about St. Helena

  8. I heard Romona Ripstein of LA ACLU on the radio today, and she’s definitley a tard.

    The ACLU can’t even figure it out, but the question of the merits of the symbols (or lack thereof) is trivial: the whole point of those little religious icons is to create the minor controversy we’re all talking about:

    Some petty bureaucrats make some tiny gesture that reasonable people can disagree on, and low and behold, we’re all transfixed on this stupid issue for a couple hours. Leading Constitutional law experts weigh-in, other pundits take notice, some idiots from both sides get on the radio to complain. Maybe a couple hundred people get pissy about it, and some politicos get to throw a little weight around sucking up to them. Mission accomplished.

    Avoiding this annoying process *is the whole friggin’ point* of separation of church and state.

  9. San Jose, San Anselmo, Newark (NJ and DE), Sault Ste.-Marie, Providence, Corpus Christi, St. Joseph (MO), San Francisco, St. Paul, San Juan, Kiryas Joel (NY) and Quakertown (PA), brace for the great renaming.

  10. I’m a card-carrying member of the ACLU because overall I believe that they do a lot of good. But I freely admit that this suit is ridiculous.

    From my admittedly limited information, I’m more impressed by the national ACLU than by the California chapter. The national ACLU is a place where Bob Barr can somehow coexist with more lefty types. The California chapter, on the other hand, is mostly (but probably not entirely) really lefty types.

    To put it in perspective, compare them with the LP. (OK, lots of groups could win that comparison hands-down, but still.) The LP takes on some very good issues and has had some small victories, but it also does a lot of loopy things. The ACLU takes on some very good issues and has had some very big victories, but it also does some things that make me upset. Still, I stand by them because when I weigh it all out they still come out a plus. Of course, for others they may come out as a minus based on your priorities. The beautiful thing about America is that with so many advocacy and lobbying groups we can all find a special interest group that doesn’t totally suck from our perspective 🙂

  11. Matthew,

    That’s good news for libertarians; since we never have any successes, we’ll never have to worry about going to extremes.. 🙁

  12. JAG,

    Most atheists don’t care all that much. Rob Sherman though sees a cross or star of David and it triggers the same emotion as another might get when seeing a swastika or the stars and bars. Whenever he sees one he goes through a religious genuflection, but for him rather than bending his knee he files lawsuits.

  13. More silly even than moving some rock from the front of a courthouse to a hallway in the back.

  14. Atheism is simply lack of belief in a god or gods. It is no more a religion than the lack of belief in the tooth fairy is a religion. Personally, I find the Christian God to be a logical impossibility as well.

  15. The Milwaukee County, WI suburb of Wauwatosa* had its city seal challenged some years back. One quarter of a shield depicting things important to the villagers was dedicated to a plain white cross on a red background. When an atheist activist got his case sufficiently far along, and the village’s legal counsel felt that precedent was against them, they changed the seal. The cross-less quadrant now reads, in white block letters “In God We Trust.” I figure they thought that should the SCOTUS tell them that was illegal, then they would have to tell the Treasury Dept. the same thing.

    It would be more accurate if it said “Thou Shalt Not Park.”

    Mind you, I don’t care for religious mottos or symbols on our public edifices, money, banners, etc., but until the Supremes stop opening their sessions with “God save this honorable court,” they will sound like a pack of hypocrites telling lesser bodies to be stricter about separation than they are.


    “`Tosa” to the locals, just as that city in SoCal is “L.A.” rather than El Pueblo de Nuestra Se?ora la Reina de los Angeles de Porci?ncula.


  16. I’m originally from Milwaukee, and I firmly believe that the best logo for the city of Wauwatosa would be somebody with a stick jammed up his ass. I even lived in Wauwatosa for a few years.

    I vaguely remember the case. I’m not surprised at the resolution. The atheist in question clearly disliked Tosa even more than I do. He should have realized that they would find a way to turn the tables on him.

  17. The whole point of using “the goddess Pomona” or representations of Justice or Liberty on our coins, public buildings, official seals, flags, etc. is that at the time they were adopted there were almost no actual worshippers of those “deities” left in what was then called “Christendom.” Who remembers, outside of the erudite few who visit boards like this one, that Nike was the goddess of victory, not a running shoe brand name, or an anti-missile system? So a “pagan goddess” as a symbol on a city seal had been almost completely decanted of its religious significance.

    What Christians should fear is that use of the cross as a civic symbol may end up eroding its value as a religious one. The use of various versions of the cross on the national flags of Europe doesn’t correlate well with the extent of belief in those countries. Ireland and Poland, both highly religious, don’t use the cross as emblems, while the Scandinavian countries, famously “post-Christian”, do.

    The Union Flag (aka Union Jack) of Great Britain contains St. George’s cross, along with the St. Andrew’s cross for Scotland, and an ahistorical St. Patrick’s cross, to represent the six Irish counties still held by the UK. Do you feel any religious stirrings while sighting the British colors? Even the Confederate battle flag contains a St. Andrew’s cross, which might stir those in the Church of the Creator, but few others.

    Arguing that “the cross isn’t meant to be religious” may be a road down which believers might not want to travel.

    Happily non-religious

  18. Gary Gunnels,
    It appears that former Judge Roy “Ten Commandments” Moore is the most powerful demagogue in Alabama since George Wallace, with a “Moore wing” of the Republican party forming in the state. There is even talk of a run for President. Is anyone short of embarrassing elected officials? AL has plenty to spare.

    War Eagle!

  19. Volokh makes the damning point, which the ACLU cannot simply brush away: they are in a tussle over a small cross in one corner of the seal, but they make no mention of the Pagan Goddess that is twenty times as large, and is obviously the central figure of the seal.

    Paganism is a form of religion too. The ACLU needs to step back and realize that it’s a separation of religion and state, not just Christianity and state. Now, as others have also noted, I am a rediculously fervent proponent of the church/state wall. The second amendment is pretty clear. But it is the webster’s definition of hypocrisy to say that a tiny christian icon should go, but a relatively large Pagan icon can stay.

    Not to mention the obvious fact that this is merely historical, not an endorsement of religion.

    The ACLU does a lot of great work, but I would think that they’d be more careful than to do something so glaringly foolish and hypocritical. The article said, Last February, two Redlands residents complained to the ACLU that the cross was a religious symbol. I never saw the Redlands seal, nor do I know the history of Redlands. But it’s quite obvious that the cross on the LA seal is historical. And, I would have a little bit more respect (in principle, I suppose, outside of context) for this action if the ACLU was petitioning to get the other, much larger, religious symbol removed as well.

    Problem is, people see Christianity as religion, but paganism as some sort of politically correct spirituality. I’ll be the first one in line to exclaim the evils of salvationist religion, but in the eyes of the state, Christianity and Paganism are both equal.

  20. KentinDC,

    You mean there are people out there who want to “Nader” Bush with Roy Moore? Whoo, boy! What a republic.

  21. If I were giving money to the ACLU (I don’t), I would be supremely pissed that they paid a lawyer to file something like this.

    Even if this were a clear cut separation case, it is so insignificant that it does nothing so much as illustrate the total incompetence of the ACLU in fulfilling their stated purpose.

    PLEASE guys! Go work on PATRIOT concerns or racial profiling, or ANY CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE THAT MATTERS!

  22. Fred Gillette,
    My sister works in a medical supply store in Moore’s hometown and sees him there often. She told me a while back that Moore was here in DC meeting with a group trying to convince him to run for President.

    I truly feel for the remaining members of the AL Supreme Court. They had a Hobson’s choice in whether to get rid of Moore. They couldn’t let him stay in office while openly defying a court order, but they made him even more of a martyr in the eyes of his supporters by removing him.

  23. Evan,

    The ACLU would probably argue that the goddess does not represent a religion with a significant following in LA, whereas the cross does. Therefore, there is no danger of establishing goddess-worship as the official religion of the county, but Christianity is another matter.

    Not that it really makes any sense, but that’s what they’d say.

  24. The Wauwatosa thing was the work of Rob Sherman, who doesn’t resrtict his separation to Christianity, as residents of Zion, IL can tell you. Atheism is a religion to that guy.

  25. s.m. koppelman,

    right on… not to mention “Los Angeles”.

  26. Is the Pagan Church tax exempt?

  27. Re atheism as a “religion”.

    I can understand people being agnostic, not caring one way or another, about the existence of “God”. What I don’t understand is the atheist who, with as little ability to be certain as his religious counterpart, is adamant that no “God” exists. Isn’t the belief in something that cannot be proved an example of a “faith” of some kind?

    Russ D is right. Nonbelievers who insist on the idea that God cannot exist are acting on a belief system (religion) no different than the systems of believers that they abhor.
    At least agnostics are intellectually consistent; they don’t know and, consequently, don’t care.

  28. From my admittedly limited information, I’m more impressed by the national ACLU than by the California chapter. The national ACLU is a place where Bob Barr can somehow coexist with more lefty types. The California chapter, on the other hand, is mostly (but probably not entirely) really lefty types.

    IIRC, the California chapter endorsed campus speech codes; the national ACLU has opposed them.

  29. This is a very typical thing. Whenever there is some sort of injustice that a group or social movement has success in rectifying, they virtually *never* know when to stop, and get drunk on their own power. That’s how the civil rights movement has transformed into the special rights movement, and the truth in food labeling movement transformed into the food litigation industry.

  30. Well, I could be wrong, but since that little cross is above what looks like the Hollywood Bowl and a lot of stars, I have to assume it is actually that lighted cross that sits on the Cahuenga Pass next to the entrance to the 101 Freeway, which means it probably has nothing to do with the missions and the history of California.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.