My pal Judybg just posted something about “a school district in Rhode Island that has decided that the Easter bunny is too Christian and should be renamed Peter Rabbit.” She went on to say “I am absolutely astounded!!!! Political correctness has gone over the edge.”

Sigh. Maybe it has at that. Judybg makes a good point and it’s well worth reading the rest of what she has to say on her blog Musings on an Imperfect World.

As for me…I couldn’t resist responding to her ample outrage with my own thoughts on the whole Easter bunny brouhaha. And, by the time I was done with my comment, I wound up writing what in effect was a post anyway. So I’d like to expand on it a bit here and share my thoughts with you since decisions like these are happening all over the country.

As a general statement, I agree things have gone a bit too far with all this political correctness – which in some cases now involves a related fear that someone might just possibly find something offensive so let’s avoid any possible problems and censor even remotely controversial stuff in advance!

In response to the Rhode Island school’s decision to change the name of the creature making an appearance at a craft fair from the Easter Bunny to Peter Rabbit…I understand that the school is trying to avoid the appearance of promoting one religion over another, but I think schools can find a way to allow a little leeway in making a place for traditions – hopefully a diversity of traditions – and can do so without violating the Constitution or promoting any one religion over another. In fact, we’d be much better off we if knew and understood a lot more about each other. (Maybe we’d even have less wars.)

There’s a corresponding story about the banning of the Easter bunny that’s been going on in Walnut Creek, CA. For me the real story here is how this whole thing has been blown into a huge media circus, showing the power of one person to get his opinion heard – especially when his point of view rings true to so many.

Michael Runzler, a former reporter who lives in Walnut Creek, decided this was the year to protest a decision that was made FIVE years ago. That decision was in response to again only one voice, a woman who was concerned that city funds were being used to sponsor what she felt was a religious event – an Easter egg hunt.

Now I can understand people’s sensitivity to these things since I grew up feeling very weird about school celebrations of ONLY traditions that weren’t mine. Luckily in many places (unfortunately not all), a lot has changed since I was a kid and we now honor other traditions too. But as I said…I remember how uncomfortable it felt being required to celebrate things that felt a lot like religion to me.

Still, as far as I’m concerned, Easter egg hunts have certainly transcended religion and moved into the mainstream as a delightful cultural tradition. In fact, there are religious Christians who call the whole thing “pagan” and not representative of true Christianity at all. A comment in a local Rhode Island newspaper suggested doing away with the visit from the bunny altogether – no matter what he’s called – and replacing it with a nice religious pageant. Looks like you can’t please everyone no matter what their religion!

Anyway…back in Walnut Creek…Runzler, through the amazing power of the internet, got his case heard big time. It’s been a hot topic on the web for a few months. But once again, while I respect the sensitivity for people’s feelings behind the decision, I think this is another case of taking political correctness a bit too far. And most folks on all sides of the political spectrum think so too. In fact, according to Runzler,”Sean Hannity is conservative and Alan Colmes is liberal. They both agreed this is just silly, which I think just shows how out of step the decision is.”

I agree too. I just hope Michael Runzler will be there to support my efforts to get an afikomen hunt on the White House lawn next Passover. (-;