Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tulsa Chumps of the Week: Councilors Westcott, Mautino & Turner

Three Tulsa city councilors played the conservative religious card today, attempting to stop the annual Holiday Parade of Lights because the event has dropped Christmas from its title.

The action was prompted by Sen. Jim Inhofe, who has made an issue of the name change and said he won't participate in the parade until "Christmas" is returned to the title.

It's a tempest in a teapot, of course, part of a completely phony "war of Christmas" that Fox News gins up every December. Naturally, Inhofe and others pretend this is a serious problem, but there's little evidence that it is.

There are also legal problems at stake here, such as the city attempting to ban a parade based on its title. As several authorities have noted, this runs afoul of the First Amendment on its face, since the amendment prohibits the government from banning speech it doesn't approve of.

Here's part of the Tulsa World's online report on today's vote:
Tulsa's Holiday Parade of Lights will march forward Saturday after the City Council in a 5-3 vote approved its special event application at a special Tuesday meeting. 
Councilors Bill Christiansen, G.T. Bynum, Chris Trail, Maria Barnes and Jack Henderson voted in favor of the permit, while Councilors Rick Westcott, Jim Mautino and Roscoe Turner were against it. Councilor John Eagleton was absent. 
Councilors who were opposed to issuing the permit were protesting the annual event dropping "Christmas" from its title, which actually occurred two years ago. 
Council Attorney Drew Rees advised councilors that it was not in their purview to vote down the permit…. 
Westcott, Mautino and Turner should know better that to fall for this sort of nonsense, but—hey!—pandering to the religious right is a long and dishonorable tradition in Oklahoma, so we can't say we are surprised.

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