Apathy vs. The U.S. Constitution

A Federal Court has ruled that the 30-foot-tall cross that sits atop the Korean War memorial at Mount Soledad in San Diego must be removed within 90 days.  The judge’s ruling is the latest development in a legal battle over the cross that has been going on for over 20 years.  The ruling will be stayed if the decision is appealed, so there’s a chance that the case will eventually end up with the Supreme Court.

The Court’s ruling was based on the First Amendment’s prohibition of government endorsement of a particular religion – a distinctly Christian symbol on Federal land is a no go.

This is a perfect example of how the Constitution makes me care about things that I normally wouldn’t care about.  There’s a big cross on a hill.  Who gives a shit, right?

I live a few miles from Mt. Soledad, so I hear a lot of opinions about this controversy whether I want to or not.  Most locals seem to feel that the group that filed the lawsuit to have the cross removed is a bunch of Liberal contrarians with too much free time on their hands.  I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that they’re aligned with the covert “War on Christmas” that Conservatives keep telling me about (a Sears commercial said “Happy Holidays,” what’s happening to this country?!).

At the end of the day I have to admit that I – a non-religious person – have never been bothered by the cross.  To me Mt. Soledad has always been a place where old people go to see a really great view of the Southern California coastline, or where teenagers go to make out in the back seat of mom’s SUV.  I never really thought about the cross; any religious significance is lost on me.

But the First Amendment doesn’t leave room to make judgment calls.  A cross is undeniably a Christian symbol, and it’s been erected on government land.  That much is undisputed.  I’m trying my best, but I can’t think of a plausible explanation for how that’s permissible under the Constitution.

I don’t care about this cross in particular, but I do care about upholding the Constitution in general.  So I don’t really have a choice, I have to jump on the “take down the cross” bandwagon with the Grinches, Scrooges, and Bill Mahers of the world.  The Constitution makes me care about things that I don’t really care about.

Here’s an idea that might make everyone happy – just knock the arms off and say it’s a miniature Washington Monument.

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