For a number of years, Singer has been on a crusade to expunge “Christmas” from the name of La Jolla’s annual year-end parade, changing it to something more “faith-neutral” and “inclusive.”
While we respect Singer's passion and resolve, we must point out that his unswerving quest to change the parade name reminds us of a certain literary captain in pursuit of a certain whale. There is a huge difference between commitment to a cause and obsession with one. Amid Singer's repeated attempts to fuel press interest in the issue, we’re not sure he hasn’t crossed the line.
“What Mr. Singer fails to accept is that this issue has been exhausted,” said Julie Main, San Diego Community Newspaper Group publisher. “It has been reported and covered sufficiently to date. He seems to feel we have some obligation to him to provide him a soap box to foster this debate. His position has been made clear. There is nothing [new] to bring to the table at this time."
We acknowledge Singer’s right to raise salient points in a public dialogue on whether or not a more faith-neutral parade name would benefit the community at large. It’s not Singer’s mission that troubles us. It’s the way he’s going about it.
We feel that Singer is getting in his own way, as his often overtly aggressive and combative tactics may turn off people who might otherwise by sympathetic to his cause. We have heard directly from people who’ve said, though they were inclined to agree with Singer’s viewpoint, that they are also disinclined to support him because of his intimidating tactics, suggesting he would take action against them if they failed to agree with him.
We also believe Singer’s continued references to the past, when Jews and African-Americans were openly discriminated against in La Jolla, are inappropriate and irrelevant to the current discussion, even amid their veracity. By dwelling on the past, Singer is confusing and obscuring his cause in the present. We’re talking about changing the name of an event. No broader moral, social or ethical issues are at play here — or should be.
In our view, the press is not the place to try or decide this matter. Journalists report the news and are merely conduits through which information passes. Moreover, a print publication does not have the power to actually change the rules. The underlying question then centers on the matter of a proper venue in which to decide this issue.
One suggestion comes immediately to mind: Put it up to a public vote. If the majority agrees the parade name ought to be changed, it will vote in favor of the proposition.
Asked recently if he would be willing to put the question on a ballot, Singer replied that he would not. We suspect he is unwilling because he realizes that his perspective might not be shared by everyone — or even most La Jollans.
There’s only one way to find out.