It’s December 1, and already I’m up to 4 postings in the 2009 edition of the annual “war on Christmas” theme. This time, what’s in question is a “Merry Christmas” sign on a firehouse in North Andover, MA. WHDH-7 News out of Boston, tells the story:

Town officials in North Andover have put an end to some long-time holiday traditions causing some controversy among many local groups.

Some say it is sign of the times, but others are accusing the town of acting like Scrooge.

There used to be a Merry Christmas sign hanging on the North Andover Fire Department, but town officials told the firefighters to take it down ending the decades-long holiday custom.

The story of how this decades-long tradition came to an end, is a familiar one which has played out elsewhere, and usually with the same irrational results:

The controversy started when town selectmen told a local rabbi place he could not put a menorah on North Andover Town Common for all eight days of Hanukkah.

The town’s policy only allows displays to stay on the common for one day.

I say this is “irrational” because — well — it is! The town could easily have modified its “policy,” put the menorah up for the holiday and left the “Merry Christmas” in place … but no, that never occurred to them. Instead they chose to stir up the hornets’ nest of the annual “Christmas wars” by putting the kibosh on all such displays.

That said, I note that the only defense for this sign on the firehouse, is “tradition”:

“It’s just a part of the tradition,” said Chief William Martineau, of the North Andover Fire Department. “We have put that up there for many, many years. It has to be close to 40, 50 years.”

Sorry, but that something is “traditional” or has been done for “many, many years,” does not make it right. It was, for example, “traditional” — for thousands of years! — to believe the earth was at the center of the universe. Despite literally ages of “tradition” that told humanity this, we have found out that it’s not true. Appeals to tradition are fallacious.

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