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We can hope Suns suit did some good

January 18, 2000

During the Scopes Monkey Trial held 75 years ago in Dayton, Tenn., defense attorney Clarance Darrow was having little luck persuading the court to allow introduction of evidence that would prove the viability of Darwin's theory of evolution.

Frustrated, Darrow sassed the judge, who thundered from the bench that he hoped Darrow was not questioning the intelligence of the court.

Darrow leveled his gaze at the judge and said flatly, "Well, your honor certainly has the right to hope."

Washington County's version of the Trial of the Century ended last week as the Hagerstown Suns and civil rights groups came to an agreement over the minor league team's "church bulletin day" promotion.

Like the judge in Scopes, we would hope that some good has come out of the whole mess.

But don't count on it.

The lawsuit was brought by Carl Silverman, who passed the torch to the ACLU and the Maryland Human Relations Commission. All three agreed that by offering a discount to fans who brought a church bulletin to the gate on Sunday, the Suns were guilty of a violation of religious discrimination laws. Oops, I mean anti-religious discrimination laws.

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Now on the face of it, you would think that an anti-religious discrimination law would mean that you couldn't discriminate against a business that wants to sponsor a religious promotion.

But this is government and that is not how it works.

The anti-discrimination law means that - OK, here I admit to not being completely sure of my footing. I think it means that if you give a discount for religious people you also have to give a discount to nonreligious people, too.

Now seeing as how a person who is religious gets a discount and seeing as how a person who is not religious probably falls into the nonreligious category that is also eligible for a discount it would appear there aren't a lot of people who would not be eligible for one discount or the other.

Except for me.

Under the conditions of the settlement, you get a couple of bucks off your ticket if you present a religious bulletin from a church or a secular bulletin from a civic group or club. The promotion will henceforth be known as, and this name for a couple of reasons almost makes me want to cry, "Family Bulletin Day."

Can "Family Annual Shareholders Meeting Agenda and Notarized Proxy Statement Day" be far behind?

But as mentioned, I am once again left out, just as I was for membership at Sam's Club. I don't belong to any church and I certainly don't belong to any pansy, do-gooder civic organization.

I'm not even a member of any newspaper guild. Although while I'm on the subject of a guild, I should mention that The Herald-Mail as an employer could probably benefit from

(12 paragraphs deleted here - editor).

and in closing let me thank The Herald-Mail for allowing this constructive criticism and permitting such a frank and open discussion of employee-relation issues.

(sorry - editor).

So I guess this spring I'll just have to stay away from the games on Sundays and sit at home with the blinds drawn, wallowing in the agony of being discriminated against.

Who will file a lawsuit on my behalf? No one. I'll be forever persecuted for the simple crime of not being a "joiner." But perhaps sometime the Suns will come around to my way of thinking and offer a "Family Unaffiliated Day" promotion.

I can always hope.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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