Christmas Displays Are Government’s New “Public Safety” Concern

Michael McGrady | Director of McGrady Policy Research

One would suspect that Christmas is a time for good cheer and goodwill towards all humans, however, it’s not even October and the holiday cheer for one Plantation family has been thrown out the door.

As the Sun-Sentinel reported on September 27th, the city of Plantation filed an overly frivolous lawsuit against Mark and Kathy Hyatt, the masterminds of a phenomenal Christmas lights display on their very own front lawn, annually.

Nevertheless, the city seeks to shut down the joyous holiday fun of one family because it presents a case that public safety concedes the power of the individual’s property rights. The lawsuit, filed in a local circuit court, will also bring forth whether or not the city of Plantation holds any constitutional authority in this matter.

For one, the city, and any government in a similar situation, needs to get past the petty arguments surrounding the grounds for the lawsuit and allow the Hyatts to be the Hyatts.

However, the Plantation’s call to court is just the round off of a long heated battle to prevent the “winter wonderland” between the family and the city government. As opening arguments began today, the city willingly released information chronicling the cities unethical attempts from preventing spectators to the display. From no parking signs to police surveillance, the city’s attorneys recollected several attempts to prevent more and more people enjoying the Hyatt’s display. Low and behold, none of it worked. This is just unacceptable.

To add insult to injury, according to the family’s legal counsel via coverage on this matter from NBC Miami, the Hyatts have tried to reach agreements with city officials however the only solution that the city sees fit is either limiting the display or have the family pay the city for permission to display their spectacle.

Regardless, the whole administration of Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic shows no regard for the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution nor any regard for the most basic rights for Florida citizens in Section 2 of the state constitution.

In the end, public safety is a matter of personal responsibility. It is the government’s role to maintain the public safety; however, it is not government’s role to dictate the nature of the public safety. Citizens, in most cases, must take hold of their role as members of society and exercise the very rights they’re granted. Any restriction that prevents that is defamatory to the role of a citizen.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and let a family and community tradition remain a tradition.

McGrady is the executive director of McGrady Policy Research, managing partner of Liberty Service Group, and a published freelance policy analyst and columnist. His work has been featured nationwide. Follow him on Twitter (@mikemcgrady2). Email him at mmcgrady@mcgradypolicyresearch.org.

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