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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Occasionally we win one
Posted by Jill | 7:11 AM
It's a small victory for free speech, but one that would not have been won if the blogosphere didn't exist:

A Pagosa Springs subdivision may have some peace again after a homeowners' association threatened to fine a resident for putting up a Christmas wreath shaped like a peace sign.

But the Loma Linda subdivision is now scrambling to assemble a new association board after the three members resigned today.

The directors of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association apologized Monday to Lisa Jensen and Bill Trimarco for threatening to fine the couple $25 a day if they didn't remove their lighted wreath. The wreath had been characterized as a divisive symbol that violated the subdivision rules against displaying signs or advertisements.

This morning, e-mails were sent to Loma Linda residents announcing that board

members Bob Kearns, Tammy Spezze and Jeff Heitz had resigned.
"We need to get our subdivision back in gear now," said Loma Linda resident Nancy Dunbar, who had to remove a wooden peace sign from in front of her home the week before Thanksgiving.

She said several members of association's architectural-control committee, who had resigned earlier in protest the board's actions, are working to form an ad hoc board before association elections next month.

Jensen and Trimarco said they have had hundreds of e-mails and phone calls since the wreath flap garnered headlines around the world.

Most have been supportive of their simple message of peace, they said - a message they did not intend to be a statement against the war in Iraq.

Kearns had said that some people with children serving in Iraq had complained about the peace sign, prompting his order that it be removed.

The article brings up an interesting question, though: What, if any, is our obligation to prop up the illusions of families with children serving in Iraq? Do we need sacrifice our freedom to speak out for what we believe is right out of courtesy to a neighbor with a need to believe in the cause his or her son or daughter is fighting for?

A friend of mine knows a family that lost a loved one in the World Trade Center. This family are staunch Bush supporters. They have supported him every step of the way, wearing flag pins and supporting the war and convincing themselves that their son died a hero because he happened to be sitting at his desk when a plane hit it. Nothing -- not the 9/11 Commission, not the fact of a president sitting in an elementary school classroom for seven minutes after a terrorist attack, not the revelation of the lies used to connect Saddam Hussein to the attacks -- nothing has swayed this family's faith in George W. Bush. Nothing CAN sway this family's faith in George W. Bush because to question is to face a reality so horrible that they might not be able to get out of bed in the morning. So who am I to interfere with this family's coping mechanism?

Of course, this family doesn't live near me. They don't know me. They don't read my blog. But what of a neighbor who INTERPRETS a peace sign as a rebuke of the Iraq War in which his son is fighting? It seems to me that if that neighbor's faith in the righteousness of the cause can be that shaken by a symbol, that neighbor probably ought to look inside himself and see just how much faith in this president's war he really has. Perhaps the presence of this symbol is simply bringing to the fore doubts he already has.
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