Nativity Stays

In March the Supreme Court ruled to allow Syracuse, N.Y., to continue sponsoring the annual display of a Christmas Nativity scene in a public park.

According to AP reports, the court, without comment, turned away a woman's argument that the display amounts to government endorsement of religion even though the city also allows a privately owned menorah to be displayed in another public park.

Carol A. Elewski, a self-described atheist, asked a federal judge in 1995 to bar Syracuse from sponsoring the Nativity scene, which depicts the biblical version of the birth of Jesus. It includes a banner proclaiming, "Gloria in Excelsis Deo."

The judge ruled against her, saying there was no evidence the scene in front of a fifty-foot Christmas tree was intended to convey a religious message, according to AP.

U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. noted that a display in a nearby park included a Jewish menorah, as well as non-religious symbols — lights, reindeer, and a snowman. The Nativity scene "is not dominant in the city's overall holiday decorations," he said.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, saying that because the Nativity scene was part of a larger seasonal display, the city's sponsorship did not endorse Christianity.



Ellen is Too Gay, According to Gays

Chastity Bono, the media director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has announced her opinion that the TV show Ellen is "too gay-specific."

According to the twenty-nine-year-old daughter of Sonny Bono and Cher, the struggling show's only hope for a sixth season renewal by ABC is for the creators to slow down — "take smaller steps" and chart a more moderate path.

"(Ellen) is so gay it's excluding a large part of our society," Bono told Variety. "A lot of the stuff on it is somewhat of an inside joke. It's one thing to have a gay lead character, but it's another when every episode deals with pretty specific gay issues."

Bono suggests ABC views Ellen as a betrayal. "Ellen (DeGeneres) has gone in a totally different direction than she said she would. Originally, she said this wasn't going to be the 'Gay Ellen Show,' that every episode wasn't going to deal with gay issues. But it pretty much has. And this is something ABC hasn't been happy about."



Doctor Death

It appears Dr. Jack Kevorkian has shifted his practice of helping the terminally ill commit suicide, "assisting" anyone who asks, as shown in his role in the February death of a paralyzed young man.

"Now, he makes the claim that he will decide who's terminally ill," said Ned McGrath, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit, according to AP reports.

Critics say the death of Roosevelt Dawson — a twenty-one-year-old Southfield college student paralyzed from the neck down who fought to be released from a hospital to meet with Kevorkian — signals a major turn in Kevorkian's program according to published reports.

These indications are supported by an "assisted" suicide in early March. A man whose body was left at a hospital by Jack Kevorkian suffered from a painful but non-fatal muscle disorder, according to a note left by the doctor.

Kevorkian and associate, Dr. Georges Reding, brought the body to the emergency room at Huron Valley Hospital. A note with the body identified the man only as a forty-two-year-old from Boston. The note said the man suffered from fibromyalgia, a painful muscle disorder that is not considered fatal.

When Kevorkian was tried twice in Oakland County in 1996, his defense was that he was relieving "pain and suffering." Today, he says a person's choice to live or die should depend on how they view their "quality of life."

Not Dead Yet, a national disabled-rights group fighting the legalization of assisted suicide, contends Kevorkian is conditioning people to view death as the logical alternative to living with a disability.

"People are so indoctrinated into considering a disability as a fate worse than death," said Marsha Katz, a Not Dead Yet member from Ypsilanti whose husband uses a wheel chair. "In the disability community, there are many people who consider Kevorkian a serial killer."

At a December news conference, Kevorkian estimated the number of suicides in which he has assisted at between 80 and 100.



Poll: Adults Ignore Viewer Warnings

An Associated Press poll finds that parents aren't making much use of the TV industry's new system that informs viewers of the content of programs. The ratings are meant to warn viewers that some shows are unsuitable for children or contain sex and violence. Seven in ten adults say they pay little or no attention to the ratings, such as "TV-PG" or "TV-14," when they appear in program listings and on-screen. Even in homes with children, 51 percent of parents say they pay little attention. However, 84 percent of those surveyed in the telephone poll of 1,000 adults say it's the TV industry's job to inform viewers of programming content.

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