O, Tannen-bomb: the Christmas tree controversy in Rhode Island

O, Tannen-bomb: the Christmas tree controversy in Rhode Island December 6, 2011

Trouble is taking root, and spreading:

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee unwrapped a Christmas conundrum when he erected a “holiday” tree in the Statehouse, incensing the Roman Catholic Church, many residents and even the tree farmer who donated the 17-foot-tall spruce.

The holiday hubbub comes to a head Tuesday evening when Chafee presides over a tree-lighting celebration at the Statehouse. The event will feature Santa Claus, a gingerbread house, examples of “holiday” trees from around the world and a specially decorated tree honoring military service members.

In protest of Chafee’s secular spruce, a Republican state lawmaker plans to light a Christmas tree an hour later at her legislative office. The Catholic Diocese will host its own Christmas tree lighting just up the street.

Local talk radio host John DePetro of WPRO has taken to calling Chafee “Gov. Grinch” and is urging listeners to crash the holiday tree lighting while singing “O Christmas Tree.”

Chafee, an independent, insists that he’s simply honoring Rhode Island’s origins as a sanctuary for religious diversity. Religious dissident Roger Williams founded Rhode Island in 1636 as a haven for tolerance, where government and religion would forever be kept separate. Chafee also notes that previous governors have used the term “holiday” tree.

“Use of the term `holiday tree’ is a continuation of past practice, and does not represent a change of course on my part,” he said in a statement.

Chafee’s attempts to diffuse the controversy have so far backfired. He encouraged his critics to use their “energy and enthusiasm to make a positive difference in the lives of their fellow Rhode Islanders.”

Instead, his office received 3,500 calls of protest, with all but 700 coming from out of state. According to a tally by Chafee’s spokeswoman, his office received only 92 calls supporting his choice of words.

Bishop Thomas Tobin, head of the Roman Catholic church in Providence, said the governor’s decision to call it a holiday tree was “most disheartening and divisive.” The diocese said it would hold a competing lighting — of a Christmas tree, naturally — at a parish a block from the Statehouse.

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59 responses to “O, Tannen-bomb: the Christmas tree controversy in Rhode Island”

  1. Religious diversity doesn’t mean altering or minimizing ours. It means inlcuding theirs. I am fed up today with such nonsense. They had the audacity yesterday to change the Christmas tree here at work to a “Community” tree. GO TO HELL! And that’s me screaming at the top of my lungs.

  2. Does Gov. Chaffee speak the truth? If previous governors called it a holiday tree, did people protest then? If not, why not, and why start now?

  3. “Religious diversity doesn’t mean altering or minimizing ours.”

    Then help me understand how your company or a state official using the term “community tree” or “holiday tree” minimizes your religion? Does referring to it as a “Christmas tree” minimize other faiths (for example Judaism, Buddhism, Islam and Wicca, all of which celebrate holidays this month)?

    In statehouses where a Christmas tree is displayed, is it appropriate for the government to also display items representing these other faiths during this time? And what about other religious observances at different times of the year? Should government also offer displays for those faiths then?

  4. Contempt for a politician because he used the phrase “holiday tree”? Really? How about contempt instead for politicians who bash illegal immigrants (often referring to them simply as “illegals,” as though their very existence is a crime) or push for drastic cuts to Medicaid and public education funding while fighting big-time against (heaven forbid) a higher tax on individuals who have annual incomes in excess of a million dollars?

    By the way, what is the origin of the term HOLIDAY? Is it not holy day? So is Gov. Chaffee really so very contemptible? Or is this just another effort by right-wing radio (and that champion of true religion, Bill O’Reilly, who has made the fight against “Happy holidays” a major cause in years past) to gin up their ratings? In other words, is this one more opportunity for the political right to use religion in a way that has very little to do with Christ’s message of tending to the poor, setting free the captives, showing mercy to sinners?

  5. I just can’t get all “Christmas Tree Wars” about this…

    BUT, it does seem ridiculous to me to call it a “Holiday” tree when we all know that it is in recognition for the Christian feast day. None of my Jewish friends and neighbors would want or expect that, as I wouldn’t want us to start calling for “Holiday candelabras” and “Holiday spinning tops” to minimize their celebrations either.


  6. Exactly what holiday is the tree celebrating? Is it not Christmas?

    What is wrong with saying Christmas tree, Merry Christmas etc? I hope O’Reilly keeps on calling these anti-Christmas people out.

  7. Christians yelling because someone isn’t paying proper homage to a piece of symbolism (and for that matter, a whole holiday) they STOLE from pagans? They have a pair of brass ones, I’ll give them that….

  8. Yeah we do. If they can’t call it a Christmas Tree why bother to have it at all? What day does it symbolize?

  9. Well that’s great Manny, because that’s what the Nativity was all about, wasn’t it? Why would God sacrifice his own son if not to stoke more tribal rage and brass-knuckle triumphalism.

  10. The point of a plural democracy is that it symbolizes what you, and I, each believe it to symbolize. The whole point of our form of government is that we don’t need the government to tell us what this, or any other holiday means. No Christian’s beliefs or practices are being harmed by the Governor’s actions AT ALL. It’s whining by a demographically and privileged majority with an enormous sense of entitlement and a huge chip on their shoulders.

    You’re not upset because the governor is ruining Christmas. You’re upset because he didn’t bow and scrape to YOUR church and your god, and quite frankly, to the sectarian group to which you belong. You’re demanding that he satisfy a de-facto religious test for office despite our Constitution’s clear rejection of the concept.

  11. The legal holiday that the tree represents is called Christmas, so to refuse to call it a Christmas tree is an exercise in denial of reality.

  12. The existence of a legal holiday simply means that most non-emergency state workers get the day off and state offices close for business. So far as I can tell, the governor is not refusing to call Dec. 25 “Christmas.” He’s simply failing to serve as your personal master of ceremonies for traditions you happen to like, and which, as I have said, are not in any way even central to Christianity.

  13. We had the same problem here in Quebec, the cradle of Catholicism in North America. And since when? When muslims came here en masse aftre 1980. We never heard about that before, from the Jewish Community, and they are present since 1760. Who were the Founders of our contry? Judeo-Catholics and protestant Christians from Europe. When those we have elected will stand, and call a Christmas tree a Christmas Tree? They tried to do it at Areoport P.E. Trudeau in Montreal, but we stand againts them, and you will find Christmas Trees and Christmas decorations in all the airport. In the city where I live , we have install a Holy Family sceane, (crêche, I don’t know the english word for it) right in the midle of the town under a Christmas tree. We do respect others that don’t have the same religion , but again who were the fonders of Canada? Try to do the same in Dubaï… Again folks sorry for my poor english.

  14. Actually if you read the rest of the article a Menorah is also present in the state house. It has not been renamed to make it more acceptable to secularist. This is offensive to me because it is an effort to secularize a religion. Something that happens quite often to Christian faiths, although not others. If you have a problem with Christmas, it’s better to not celebrate it at all. Don’t take my faith, try to turn it into something that makes you feel good, and then tell me I have to like it. So in answer to your question presenting one faith does not minimize another (I have no problem with other faiths being represented), but altering someone’s religious celebration sure does.

  15. Well, I happen to NOT be a fan of most right wing politics. I consider myself moderate and I don’t watch FOX news except for an occasional laugh. But guess what, I still think this is offensive.

  16. But he is serving as master of ceremonies for a ceremony at Christmas time with a tree of the sort traditionally used in Christmas celebrations. It’s not that he’s not following the tradition. What is offensive is that he is taking the tradition and excluding a mention of the word “Christmas” where it would normally be found. That is discriminatory against Christianity. To take Christian symbols (even minor ones like the Christmas tree) and rename them is anti-Christian.

  17. I think the whole point is a little deliberate “denial” of the obvious to allow some relatively generic December festive decorations without seeming to favor a religious group. That’s why trees and glass ornaments and snowflakes are generally permitted in public spaces but crèches often cause problems. To insist that “Holiday trees” in public building be acknowledged as specifically Christian seems unnecessary, kind of obnoxious, and ultimately counterproductive. I don’t think we’d lose anything if we skipped them altogether. They sure doesn’t seem to promote peace toward all of good will.

  18. But the Christmas tree is linked to Christmas in the minds of people. It has nothing to do with Haunaka or Kwanza. To stop calling it a Christmas tree is a delibrate snub to Christians. When will people learn that the Freedom of Religion in the Constitution does not mean freedom from religion? Separation of Church and state has been manufactured by the courts and is not written specifically into the Constitution.

  19. Many Christmas traditions have come from Pagan traditions—the Romans celebrated Saturnalia, to honor the god of agriculture. Decorated with greens, lights, shared pastries and gave presents. Egyptians used date palm leaves inside at the Winter Solstice to symbolize life over death. Druids used evergreens in Solstice rituals, holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life and placed evergreen branches over their doors to keep out evil spirits. The Puritians, however, banned Christmas in New England for a long time and in Boston school was open on that day, and students could be expelled if they stayed home that day. Obviously that changed.

    Having just moved from a town 10 minutes away from Providence, after living there, in that great state for 18 years, I find this not so unusual for RI. Though I didn’t vote for Gov. Chafee, I admire him for givng this a try. What difference does it make what the giant tree is called in the Statehouse? Christians can call it a Christmas tree, for others a Holiday tree. I agree with Roger Williams and his idea of what RI was founded on. Christianity is not the RI State religion anymore than it is THE prescribed or official faith of the USA, where we are supposed to able to worship as we please or not at all. It’s a tree—-with decorations—to remind us all that in the darkest part of the year, not all is dead—at least that is what it means to me. To Christians, it represents what exactly? How many evergreen trees were growing in that part of the world where Jesus was born?

    From the article, there will be 3 choices tonight as to which tree lighting one wishes to attend…Statehouse, Bishop Tobin’s place, or whatever Republican representative is having their own lighting. To each his/her own.

  20. Article VI, paragraph 3, seems crystal clear on this point:
    “….no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

    Demanding that an elected official hew to a sectarian script even when simply speaking of a symbol is nothing if not a religious test for office. And it is purely a sectarian agenda. The use of spruce or pine trees as a Christmas symbol is not at all organic to the religion’s own texts, nor universal among Christian sects. In fact, the very idea of a public celebration of Christmas was abhorrent to Puritans and other groups which had a role in this country’s founding.

    There is simply no way to construe the complaints on this thread except that they are complaints that the governor is not being “Christian enough.”

  21. Deacon Steve, that’s my point. By calling it a “Holiday tree” or a “Peace tree,” we can say it’s for everyone. Otherwise, why are we putting up huge Christian symbols in the state capitol or City Hall or the courthouse lawn? Why not a fifteen foot crucifix during Lent, or a giant Wiccan symbol in October? That’s why I think this complaint is counterproductive.

  22. It seems to me that to acknowledge the fact that a large part of the populace is celebrating a religious holiday is not an establishment of the religion.

    But what he is doing, in order to avoid an imaginary establishment of religion, is to take what Christians have come to regard as a religious symbol and to wrench it away from them by secularizing it.

  23. RomCath: There is not much we agree on but here we have found common ground: with all respect to our non-Christian friends, it is a Christmas Tree and should be called a Christmas Tree. It is not a generic holiday tree. By the way, has anyone caught the President’s remarks when he lit the national Christmas Tree this year. I found this summary on America Magazine’s In All Things blog:

  24. I wonder what would have happened if no tree or candles or whatever were placed in the Statehouse? There would be an outcry then too, I expect. What’s wrong with secular?

  25. The mere fact that some modern Christians have come to regard evergreen trees as a religious symbol does not mean we, or our elected officials, have to play along. A “Christmas tree,” is, at best, a fourth-tier symbol of your religion. If the governor had put up a Crucifix and referred to it generically as “inspirational sculpture” or put up a Nativity Creche and called it a “holiday scene,” you might have a case. Second, your use of the tree symbol is a shabby appropriation from other religions and cultures. A lot of sports teams and universities came to regard Indians as their symbol, but that didn’t mean we had to acknowledge their fool halftime antics as “Native American.”

    Finally, if something as weighty as the miracle of your savior’s birth can truly be “wrenched away” by a governor’s choice of words about a tree, you need to either examine the basis of your faith or start shopping for a better one.

  26. What’s wrong with secular? Well, you have to understand that in their eyes “freedom of religion” requires a much more nuanced understanding of terms. There’s an asterisk and a lot of fine print to that freedom. In their thinking “freedom of religion” is a nice catch phrase, but legally speaking, it’s only meant to be extended to, how shall we say this?…..The Right Sort.

    At the end of the day, their bottom line demand is for (their) brand of Christianity to have the same “freedom of religion” as Wahabbist Islam enjoys in Saudi Arabia.

  27. Looks like those who support Obama on this blog and the Democratic Party support any attack on what has traditionally been Christian and that ties right into the entire problem with the party that supported slavery and now supports abortion. Why would this party not also attack Christian beliefs and freedoms? It is only this generation of fools that have accepted the lie about the separation of Church and state. But frankly I love it when these fools want to go on the attack supporting things like a holiday tree because it exposes them for their hatred of the long held traditions of America. So keep supporting this lunacy liberals. I love it. You are in a very small minority on this one and it turns off a lot of independents as well. Why else would OReilly and many others make it a major issue if it did not attract more viewers.

  28. Actually Mark, “this generation of fools” is in VERY good and ancient company when it comes to a belief in a separation of church and state. The term was coined 209 years ago by a crazy liberal named Thomas Jefferson. He promised that “wall of separation” to another notorious “anti-Christian” group of long haired radicals, the Baptists, who began arguing for church-state separation in England 400 years ago. Unless Obama is a hell of a lot older than he looks, he nothing to do with the creation of this doctrine. It was created, by, and for Christians who had witnessed a couple of centuries of genocide when government and religion were mixed.

    But I think it would be amusing, from a distance, to give you all your wish for a few years. Tear down all separation of church and state power, like they do in China, where the government makes sure the “right” bishops are elevated and no “anti-social” churches take root.

    If protestants get hold of the government, they would have state power to “help” Catholics see the light like they did in Ireland for a few centuries. Bar them from adopting or owning land or voting or government jobs or anything else that might corrupt public morals. If your Catholic, of course that wouldn’t be so great, but bide your time and then you’ll be able to repay the favor. Yes, the world would be alright again if these pesky liberals would take their wall of separation and leave….

  29. Stop that high supercilious nonsense. I’m not outraged at any other religious group. I’m outraged at the moronic politicians who give in to the ACLU and those that want to strip the public square of religion. I want to add the other religions, not consolidate into a meaning “holiday” or “community” tree.

  30. Wendy, Richard makes a life of criticizing religious people. I have no idea why he comes to these blogs. Must be some perverse passion.

  31. Do you not read? Richard, I said I want to include others, not diminish Christianity by removing “Christmas” from a Christmas tree. Under your logic, they should be calling a menorah a holiday candlebra. I said inclusive, so yes they shold be including all relavent religions. With one caveate, it must be a real religion with a solid four or five percent of the population. Otherwise it’s just silly.

  32. This blog is taking itself far too seriously.

    In the mid-late 1960’s, in the Cleveland area, members of Reformed Jewish congregations around John Carroll University decorated their houses with aluminum fake trees with blue lights. They called them “Hanukkah Bushes.” They stayed up through secular New Years as did the Christian Christmas Trees.

  33. How the custom came about is irrelevant. Customs are a continuity with the past. You eat with a fork and spoon, do you not? You don’t eat with chopsticks? The tree is not part of the theology but a custom. It’s now a Christmas tree. Not a Thor tree, or whatever you believe in.

  34. They alsop have a menorah there. Should we call it a holiday candlebra? Your argument is just silly. It’s a Christmas tree and we know it.

  35. “At the end of the day, their bottom line demand is for (their) brand of Christianity to have the same “freedom of religion” as Wahabbist Islam enjoys in Saudi Arabia.”
    That is a fabrication, kenneth. And you are, to paraphrase the immortal words of Al Franken, a fabricating fabricator.

    It is good to learn that truth and honesty are not values you uphold. Thanks for putting it so clearly on display.

  36. “But I think it would be amusing, from a distance, to give you all your wish for a few years. Tear down all separation of church and state power, like they do in China, …”

    That is wretched hyperbole, kenneth; but why let veracity get in the way of your ranting? It is so much easier to argue against a straw man which you fabricate than against the real position of those you hate.

  37. You are (deliberately?) misrepresenting what I said. What I said was being wrenched away and secularized is “what Christians have come to regard as a religious symbol,” not “the miracle of [our] savior’s birth.” When you have to resort to such ridiculous distortions to support your smart-alecky jibes, you must have no valid basis for your position. You lose the debate because of your fallacious argumentation.

  38. It’s not hyperbole, it’s history. Do you seriously think that religion would be the controlling partner in a merger between government and faith?

  39. The fact that you clearly believe a governor has the power to diminish Christmas demonstrates that you either don’t grasp the magnitude of the Nativity or there’s simply nothing much there to grasp. No one who believed in the real gravity and majesty of Advent would have any time to dedicate to a politician’s treatment of a tangential secularized symbol of the season. No one who had a real and organic basis for faith or a connection to their gods would need, or want, the state’s validation.

    No politician gives obligatory lip service to Yule, or Beltane or Samhain, and even if we someday acquire the demographic clout to press them for it, I won’t. It would push them into an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and cheapen the sacred nature of the proceedings for those of us who actually follow the religion.

  40. There are far graver real threats to Christianity and Catholicism than this in our world. I am so weary of this silliness of finding evil secularists lurking under every (holiday) bush. What a government official in the US chooses to call a tree co-opted from Northern European indigenous tradition does absolutely no damage to my or your or anyone’s Christian celebration of Christmas, and Happy Holidays—at a time of year when so many holidays are celebrated—is only an insult to the very, very insecure or bigoted. I can claim my Catholic tradition and profess Catholic doctrine without having to also claim and profess that anyone who claims and professes differently (or is trying, however ham-handedly, to be inclusive of the diversity that is essentially American) is actively persecuting me or damaging the Faith. When you are prohibited from calling your tree whatever you want to call it, and threatened with actual martyrdom for saying Merry Christmas, we can revisit this, instead of focusing our attention on actual threats to Catholic conscience and charitable outreach here in the US, and to Christian life and liberty in many parts of the world where the kind of theocracy you would like to put in place here in this country shows its really ugly face. Meanwhile, have a blessed and peaceful Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a meaningful Kwanzaa, a cool Yule, and a magical Solstice, you of good will!

  41. Oh, I read rather well, Manny. You still have not answered my initial question. Allow me to restate it for you, in hopes of clarifying what I am asking.

    How does the statement of a governor of Rhode Island referring to a tree in the rotunda of the capital building as a “holiday” tree diminish any of the following for you, as an individual, or for your congregation/family/community of friends:

    – The meaning of Christmas (the birth of Jesus)
    – The relevance of your religious faith to your life
    – The manner in which you celebrate Christmas
    – The importance of what Jesus’ life, death and resurrection means to you and your loved ones

    Now I know you will be reminding me about the terrible ACLU and the secularists who are wanting to strip all references to religion from the public square. To that I would simply ask you if you have read in the Bible where we believers are promised that our chosen faith will prevail on this earth prior to the return of our Lord. If you have read such please point it out to me. I have not found it in my 30+ years of studying Scripture.

    Instead what I find is a promise that persecution will come upon believers for His name’s sake. I find a promise that the world will attack believers because of Him. I find a promise that things will get worse for believers as the return approaches, not better.

    But I also find a promise that He will be with believers, even in the darkest and most fearful times.

    Clearly you are angry over this, Manny. Why? Do you not trust the teachings given to us in the Bible? Or do you believe that through human anger, angst and willpower the Kingdom will prevail in the halls of human government?

    I know you will not like what I am about to say, Manny, but such is life. I pity you, and the many others who are allowing this situation to bring them to such anger. I pity folks who allow the trappings of ANY earthly situation to diminish their experience of the miracle of Jesus’ birth. Is this what the church (universal or specific) is called to do, to rail against issues such as this? Is this were we need to be spending our time and effort?

    Think on this, Manny…when has the church experienced its greatest times of growth? When has the Holy Spirit moved with the greatest force among believers? Is it not during times of persecution? In modern times did not the Spirit move mightily in the underground churches of China and the former USSR? Did not the Spirit empower the church in Europe to endure the Nazi and Communist regimes? And going back further, didn’t the Spirit empower the believers who met in the catacombs beneath Rome to worship?

    Governor Chaffee is calling the tree in the rotunda of the capital building a Holiday Tree. Your business is calling their tree a Community Tree. So what? Rejoice in the birth of the Savior! Give your anger over to God and let the Spirit fill you in this season of joy, and show the world that in spite of the disregard it gives your faith you still hold it dear.

    Or, be angry and rant.

    The choice is yours.

  42. “You are (deliberately?) misrepresenting what I said. What I said was being wrenched away and secularized is “what Christians have come to regard as a religious symbol,” not “the miracle of [our] savior’s birth.””

    And perhaps that is the problem, naturgesetz. Could it be that God is permitting this to deal with a case of idol worship? Have the trappings of Christmas become more important than the person of Christmas, Jesus?

  43. And then there is the Festivus Pole, the ultimate parody of the Christmas tree. I have to wonder if the arguments about public “holiday trees” are simply the ceremonial “airing of grievances” starting a couple of weeks early? If so, I wonder what will be brought for the “feats of strength” exhibition.

  44. “I said inclusive, so yes they shold be including all relavent religions. With one caveate, it must be a real religion with a solid four or five percent of the population. Otherwise it’s just silly.”

    By that standard Christianity was at one time “just silly.” But interesting is the fact that, with your 4%-5% cutoff, you have excluded the following faiths:

    Latter Day Saints
    All Eastern Religions
    All Pentecostal Christian faiths

    Are you sure you want to stick to those cutoff numbers, Manny?

  45. Separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of our Constitution much like the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances. In the Constitution, the founders did not simply say in so many words that there should be separation of powers and checks and balances; rather, they actually separated the powers of government among three branches and established checks and balances. Similarly, they did not merely say there should be separation of church and state; rather, they actually separated them by (1) establishing a secular government on the power of the people (not a deity), (2) saying nothing to connect that government to god(s) or religion, (3) saying nothing to give that government power over matters of god(s) or religion, and (4), indeed, saying nothing substantive about god(s) or religion at all except in a provision precluding any religious test for public office. Given the norms of the day, the founders’ avoidance of any expression in the Constitution suggesting that the government is somehow based on any religious belief was quite a remarkable and plainly intentional choice. They later buttressed this separation of government and religion with the First Amendment, which constrains the government from undertaking to establish religion or prohibit individuals from freely exercising their religions. The basic principle, thus, rests on much more than just the First Amendment.

  46. No, Richard Johnson, there is absolutely no idol worship involved.

    And, kenneth, there you go again, fabricating a straw man to distort what I actually said. And I have time to do more than one thing during Advent.

  47. Wow, kind of a long rambling post there kenneth. suprised it got past edit. And no matter what the left want to call it, every sane person knows it is a Christmas tree. You could put the picture up today in most kindergarten classes and they would currently identify it as a Christmas tree. Only the left seems to have a problem with simple logic as they try to drive God from everything. I love it when the left with Democratic party support does stuff like this.

  48. Richard:

    Keep your comments short and to the point. Please. 200 words or less is ideal. Yours is more than twice that long.

    Others have been banned from here for similar infractions.

    Thank you.

    Dcn. G.

  49. Richard, on rereading your comment, I see that you have raised a valid question. While I don’t believe there is any idolatry involved, I do think that there are probably some folks who get so caught up in the paraphernalia of Christmas — of which the tree is just a part; there are also holiday meals and gift-giving — that they don’t reflect sufficiently on the mystery of the Incarnation and Nativity. Then there are also those whose faith has grown so cold that the trappings are all they have.

  50. No, it is not an establishment of religion. Neither is calling said tree a “holiday tree” an attack on Christmas or Christians. Do you have the wall parallel or perpendicular to Kenneth’s?

  51. This will all blow over, just like other “disputes” do in RI, and someone will find something else to complain about. Christmas will happen, folks will continue their lives and all will be the same—RI will still be millions in debt just like other states etc.

  52. Whatever the percent that seems reasonable I’ll accept. I’m glad you’ve come around to my point in principle.

    And to answer you above, it’s a Christmas tree reflecting a Christian holiday. To strip the “Christmas” out of the nomenclature is to minimize and make meaningless Christmas.

    You didn’t answer my question above. Should a menorah now be called a holiday candlelabra?

  53. From Manny’s post earlier: “You didn’t answer my question above. Should a menorah now be called a holiday candlelabra?”

    When the governor of Rhode Island has a formal lighting ceremony for it, we’ll talk. Until then, let’s work on getting the number of Jews in this nation up to a level that you do not consider silly.

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