LA Atheism Examiner
December 23, 2011
(Dec. 23. Los Angeles) The saga of the Santa Monica park continues. Ten days ago, I covered a story about how atheist displays bumped almost all the church nativity scenes out of Santa Monica, California's Pacific Palisades park where they'd reigned surpreme (and almost exclusively) for nearly 60 holiday seasons. This year though, the city used a lottery to assign display spaces to applicants and through the luck (possibly divine?) of the draw, all but 4 of the 21 spaces went to atheist groups.
Now, while the church groups involved cried "foul" and bemoaned the loss of their near-monopoly, not all was sweetness and light with the atheists either. Even at this late date, the groups that won the bulk of the park display spaces haven't been able to fill them all.
Enter PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) with a suggestion.
In a letter to Damon Vix, the volunteer who is handling the atheists' efforts, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk asked for one of the empty spaces so they could display their own holiday message of "peas." The proposed sign features four plates on which various religious symbols are made up from peas. Next to this in large letters is "GIVE PEAS A CHANCE/GO VEGAN". Below that in smaller letters is "PETA" and the words "Kindness is the best religion of all" (the sign is illustrated above).
Here's the letter (via LAist.com):
December 23, 2011
Dear Mr. Vix,
As an atheist, a friend of the late Madeleine Murray O'Hare, and a former speaker at the American Atheists convention in Florida long ago, may I ask for your help? Would you be so kind as to allow PETA to use one of the vacant spaces you have so cleverly obtained in the Santa Monica "nativity lottery" so that we can set up our "Give Peas a Chance" billboard? As you well know, many bloody wars, from the Crusades to Bosnia and more, have been sparked by religious disputes. This billboard shows people of various ethnicities breaking bread and encourages peace on Earth regardless of whether one is of any religion or none. The billboard asks that everyone give a thought to the more than 1 million animals per hour who are mutilated on factory farms, transported in all weather conditions, and slaughtered in deeply frightening places simply to celebrate holidays or to satisfy a fleeting taste—and all because they are “different” from us in unimportant ways. We would be happy to support your efforts and to point out that the tenet "Blessed are the merciful" should surely mean showing mercy to all, not just to those you agree with or relate to. Adopting an all-inclusive consideration for others does not require that anyone believe in Jesus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but simply in kindness, the greatest virtue of all.
Please let me know right away and we’ll be there. Thank you.
Ingrid E. Newkirk
This afternoon, word came back from Damon Vix: No can do. Time is just too short.
From the Santa Monica Daily Press:
"I'd love to have them involved," Vix said. "But maybe we'll have to wait until next year."
He said that PETA fits in with the message his group is trying to send, but the short window between now and when the scenes have to come down on Jan. 4, 2012 was just too narrow.
Vix would have to submit a site plan for any new display and that if differed with what he already has in place it would have to be reviewed by city inspectors. He wasn't sure if it was too late to actually have City Hall even get involved.
City Hall couldn't be reached for comment as of presstime.
Stay tuned for further developments in Santa Monica's little soap opera "war on Christmas."
As much as I disagree with PETA's campaigns many times, I like this one. "Give Peas a Chance" is creative and not-offensive.