A social media spat over the removal of a Christmas tree from a Massachusetts public library has led to what officials called “threats and bullying” and an LGBT activist stepping down from her position in a human rights group after sending profanity-laden messages attacking Christians.
It all began when an employee of the Dedham Library’s Endicott Branch in the town of Dedham, about 20 miles southwest of Boston, revealed a decision by the library not to display a tree this year.
Lisa Desmond, the library’s branch supervisor, wrote on Facebook Dec. 2 that the decision was made because some people “were made uncomfortable last year looking at it.”
Desmond wrote in her post that she was given “zero explanation” for the move: “When I asked, I was told ‘people’ were made uncomfortable last year looking at it. I’m sorry WHAT?”
In her nearly three decades at the library, Desmond said she never heard one “negative comment” about the tree. She also noted how the library has “celebrated and included everyone in our community” and pointed to her recent gig as emcee for the library’s Juneteenth event last summer.
A few days later on Dec. 6, Desmond shared some comments made about her initial post from Diane Loud, who accused Desmond of putting “people’s lives in a lot of danger” by revealing the library’s decision about the Christmas tree.
Loud wrote: “For a tree? For a mother— tree? You have put people’s lives in a lot of danger. A LOT of danger.”
In her profanity-laced post, Loud also appeared to mock the beliefs of Christians, referring to God as a “magic sky daddy” and comparing Christ and Christmas to “happy horses—.”
The post read in part: “I hope the fact that you — who claim to believe in Christ and Christmas or whatever happy horses— you're trying to hide behind — are the least gracious, most hateful, most disgusting trash in the world.
“Is this what you think your magic sky daddy wants? Where in the Bible was this again?”
While Desmond declined to comment to The Christian Post, she did confirm that she did not personally know Loud, who is listed as a member of Dedham’s Human Rights Commission.
After Desmond said she contacted police about Loud’s post and called for her resignation, it was announced that Loud had indeed stepped down.
A statement from the Commission on Dec. 6 read in part: “HRC Member Diane Loud has stepped down from her position on the Dedham Human Rights Commission. We sincerely appreciate Diane's service and look forward to working with the Commission on Disabilities to find a representative to take her place.”
As of Dec. 11, however, Loud was still listed on the HRC website as a member.
Earlier this year, Loud took part in an LGBT pride event hosted by the town and the Commission, along with her grown child Max, who “discovered his transgender identity at the age of 13,” according to local media.
"I think it's really important for everybody to be celebrated and feel affirmed," Loud was quoted as saying.
Loud was also featured in a local report for Dedham residents on how to respond to a mental health crisis for “Mental Health Awareness Month.”
The Commission did not respond to a media request from CP.
On Thursday, officials with the town of Dedham also released a statement acknowledging the dispute had resulted in the bullying and harassment of town employees.
The statement read in part: “Unfortunately, a recent social media post expressing disagreement with the decision to display a holiday tree at the library has quickly evolved into a polarized environment and has led to the harassment and bullying of town employees. We wholeheartedly condemn this behavior as it tears at the fabric of our community and cannot be tolerated.
We continue to encourage constructive conversations and healthy debates, but because of social media and outside sources, what could have been something of legitimate discourse turned neighbor against neighbor, and has threatened the safety and well-being of community members and staff. This behavior is not a true reflection of our commitment to lead with kindness and civility.”
While it’s unclear whether any Christmas tree will be displayed at the library, the issue is expected to be discussed further at a Board of Library Trustees meeting scheduled for next week.
Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.