Ethics Dunce, Christmas Division: Jill Patella

The last Christmas gift Jill Patella got from her late husband, who died in 2007, was a six foot tall plastic statue of Santa Claus that loudlysings Christmas songs in a jolly baritone. In his memory, Jill decided to put the singing Santa on her front lawn this year, where he has been singing around the clock, driving her neighbors Lorillard Avenue in Union Beach, New Jersey to consider Santacide.

Jill explained her intentional infliction of the holiday noise pollution by telling reporters, “This year was the time. He [her late husband, not Santa] would have wanted me to live life again.”

She did not explain why she believes that her departed husband’s definition of “live life” was “show utter disregard for the neighbors.” Even if Mr. Patella was the kind of selfish, irresponsible person who believes that his tastes and desires trump the right of the people around him to enjoy their holidays without having to listen to a giant mechanical singing Santa, that would not excuse her for carrying on his unethical ways.

There is such a vast area of reasonable Christmas conduct between the insane poles represented by NPR’s Nina Totenberg apologizing for using the term “Christmas” on TV, and the in-your-face Christmas celebration represented by Jill Patella’s lawn concerts. Why do so many people have such a hard time locating it?

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