Pagosa Springs, Colorado--A homeowner's association has ordered a local resident to take down part of her Christmas display, a wreath shaped like the peace symbol. The homeowner's association claims that "Loma Linda residents are offended by the Peace Sign displayed on the front of your house." The association also claims that the wreath falls under a prohibition banning signs, billboards or advertising structures.
While other residents have been allowed to display Christmas decor on their properties, Lisa Jensen apparently has been singled out on account of the message of peace itself. A neighbor of Jensen's had been ordered to take down a peace symbol as being inappropriate while the United States is at war.
Bob Kearns, president of the association, refused to describe the "numerous" complaints supposedly received about the Christmas display. Instead he asserted "The peace sign has a lot of negativity associated with it ... It's also an anti-Christ sign. That's how it started." He also claimed that legal advisors had "laughed at" allowing the display of a peace symbol. Board members Jeff Heitz and Tammy Spezze joined with him and asserted that they are doing "what is best for the entire community."
Jensen notes (The Journal on Pagosa.com | The Grinch Who Stole Peace | News & Perspectives for Pagosa Springs, CO): "the rule has never been applied to wooden, paper and metal signs currently on display all over the subdivision, advertising contractors, builders, realtors, yard sales, and lost or found pets".
Jensen appealed the decision to the Architectural Control Committee for the subdivision. Chairman Jack Lilly explains what happened next:
...we have a list of do's and dont's in our neighborhood just like all the others. One of these dont's is to place offensive or political signs on your property unless its in support of a candidate and only at election time. One of our neighbors placed a Pie Plate siged Peace symbol on his driveway. Another placed a large wreath in the shape of a peace symbol on their house. The three person Board of Directors received two complaints from residents who are understandibly sensitive to the current efforts in Iraq and believed these symbols to be other that a wish for peace.The official website of the town of Pagosa Springs says "The Loma Linda Subdivision and Home Owner Association is not located in Town limits. Also, municipalities like the town do not regulate home owner associations' covenents, codes and restrictions (CC&R). THE TOWN WHOLLY SUPPORTS THEIR PEACE SIGN DISPLAY AND ALSO WISHES FOR PEACE ON EARTH."
The Architectural Committee was asked to intervene. The five members met and decided that no message, other than a wish for peace could be inferred in the symbols and saw no violation of the CC&R's. The Board of Directors has the authority to override the ACC and did so. But that wasn't enough. They demanded that anyone that disagreed with them should be removed from the committee. We all resigned. Gives us more time to enjoy our neighbors. No more meetings.
Where do you start with something like this? This Bob Kearns character seems to be a piece of work. What could he possibly be thinking? What kind of "sign" or "advertising structure" is a Christmas wreath?
As for his lunatic allegation that the peace symbol started as a sign of the antichrist--well, it passeth belief. Who does he think he's kidding? Or is he remembering some of the fundamentalist propaganda of the sixties, when christian crazies of all varieties came out in support of napalming villagers, murdering civilians, and all the other atrocities of a war designed to impose Roman Catholicism on the largely Buddhist population of southern Vietnam. So soon we forget. Then the peace symbol was called a "witch's foot," a "broken cross," and a "symbol of Satan". No supporting evidence was ever given for any of these claims, which were all bogus anyway. They were the invention of know-nothing fundamentalists.
There is, for example, a symbol known as the broken cross. It is a cross with the upright broken or bent so that the upper part with the cross angles downward. As I recall it was supposed to symbolize the power of Christ's resurrection overcoming his death on the cross or something like that; I wasn't paying that much attention that day in class, and decades have gone by since then. But it has nothing to do with the peace symbol.
The peace symbol was first used in 1958 in an Easter march protesting the nuclear arms race. It was designed especially for that event, employing the semaphor signals for N and D and standing for Nuclear Disarmament. It has been to my knowledge a part of traditional Christmas displays since then, standing for "Peace on Earth", and symbolizing the day that ancient unknown prophet (quoted by Micah and Isaiah) wrote of, when swords should be beaten into plowshares.
As the Vietnam War energized the peace movement of the sixties christian crazies (as opposed to non-christian crazies) began to seek "biblical" or "christian" reasons to support the war. One of the ways they chose was to badmouth anything and everything connected with the anti-war movement. Jesus, for example, was said to be opposed to men wearing their hair long, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:14. The peace symbol did not escape these lies and slanders, even though these supposed origins were ludicrous and far off the mark. (For an online example of this sort of lunacy, check here.)
Presumably it is these sorts of people that Bob Kearns has in mind when he says that the peace symbol has a lot of negativity associated with it. It would seem to me under the circumstances that he should have gently but firmly informed the alleged complainers that they were full of crap, and should learn the truth on the subject. To kowtow to the ignorant and uninformed only encourages them in their folly. Of course it's always possible that Kearns is the one who has problems with the peace symbol. In my opinion, if he can't tell the difference between the hope that nation shall not lift up sword against nation and an advertising slogan, he should resign and take up some position he's more suited for. Street-sweeping, maybe.
See also The Broken Cross
Update (28 November 2006):
Apparently Bob Kearns' crack team of legal advisors who laughed at the idea of allowing the display of a peace symbol for Christmas have backed down. At any rate the homeowners association is now claiming that their demand was all a mistake, and that they have no intention of fining Lisa Jensen. None of the three ringleaders in this idiocy have made a statement, and two of them have apparently changed to unlisted phone numbers since they started all this nonsense. Selah.