Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Canonsburg: Equal Opportunity Offender.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | December 14, 2010

No. 544

It has become a holiday tradition, just like the Macy’s Parade.  This year this exercise in Yuletide legal hairsplitting is occurring in Canonsburg, PA, the place where they pay homage all-year-round to native crooners Perry Como and Bobby Vinton.

Annually for years now, some obnoxious Scrooge somewhere complains about the Christmas Stable Scene being displayed on public property, complete with the mandatory press coverage.  In Canonsburg, the City Manager hurriedly moved the Crib down the street to the Knights of Columbus, saying he feared a lawsuit.  Of course,  it is just as offensive to Scrooge at its new location, but there is nothing she (this one’s a woman) can do about it.

Once in a while the town fathers involved in this ritual stand up to Scrooge.  That’s what happened in Canonsburg, or did it?

The Borough Council voted to bring back the religious figurines to public property.  But, on advice of their solicitor, they also authorized the inclusion of Santa and whole lot of secular holiday stuff.  That’s what the courts say you have to do. Frankly, I find a Christmas Creche junked up with Santa and other holiday trivia to be extremely offensive. However, I do not intend to interfere with Canonsburg.  I’ll just go elsewhere.

For a very long period in Western Civilization, most of the last two Millennia, the greatest art of every kind was religious and contained a Christian religious message.  You can’t separate the art from the message.  But if you censor the message, you censor the art, too. This goes for music as well — the low grade contemporary holiday music is not the aesthetic equal of the traditional stock of Christmas Carols.  It just isn’t.

Don’t be the unwitting victim of First Amendment political correctness. Go see the magnificent Christmas Creche in the Plaza at the USX Tower in Downtown Pittsburgh.  It is identical to the one in the Piazza in front of St Peter’s in Rome and a first class work of art.  Be sure to spend enough time to properly  enjoy it.  Then, if you really want get the holiday spirit, go down to the Heinz History Center and view “Vatican Splendor”. Regardless of your religious preferences or art education, I promise you a Christmas Miracle that cannot be equalled by all of the Santas, department store windows and film producers on the planet.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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