It feels like I have waited my whole life for the opportunity to write that very headline: "Festivus for the rest of us."
A Wisconsin man has made my dream come true. Sean Ryan, a resident of a suburb of Green Bay, has requested that a Festivus pole be displayed over an entrance to Green Bay's City Hall. He made his request of Mayor Jim Schmitt after seeing a nativity scene and a Wiccan wreath displayed above the entrance.
Schmitt has turned down the request to include a Festivus pole at City Hall, saying that it is just part of pop culture, and he's only going to consider religious requests. I would argue that the love of Seinfeld and Festivus can reach religious proportions, however, so the mayor might want to give this more consideration.
Multiple requests for religious symbols to be added to city hall have been made. Ryan is against religious symbols on government buildings, and said, "I was turning over how extreme things could get and how loosely things could get interpreted. Immediately, Frank Costanza came to mind."
The "holiday" of Festivus was created by writer Daniel O'Keefe in the 1970s and made popular on the television show Seinfeld in the 1990's. Seinfeld character Frank Costanza was a proponent of Festivus, celebrated on December 23 with activities such as "Airing of Grievances" and "Feats of Strength."
I appreciate the humor in Ryan's request, and I see the point he is trying to make. At what point do we draw the line on religious symbols? Who will decide if a symbol or a belief is truly "religious" or not? I see us heading for trouble as more and more requests are made, and we start to hear rumblings about discrimination.
Forensic accountant Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations through her company, Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners honored Tracy as the 2007 winner of the prestigious Hubbard Award and her first book, Essentials of Corporate Fraud, will be on bookshelves in March 2008.
Festivus for the rest of us