Residents of a Boston suburb are losing their minds over a local library’s decision not to put up a Christmas tree this December, sparking calls to police and a volunteer’s resignation from a local human rights commission after an expletive-filled tirade.
Dedham’s library is still decked out with other Christmas decorations, like a wreath on its front door, but that wasn’t enough for some in the town of 25,000—inflicting holiday season chaos that officials say has pitted “neighbor against neighbor.”
While the ordeal sounds like a skit from Saturday Night Live, it’s not.
It all began when Lisa Desmond, one of the library’s branch supervisors, wrote a Facebook post claiming she was told that a tree wouldn’t be put up this season because a local resident said it made them uncomfortable last year.
“I’m not feeling very positive today,” Desmond wrote on Dec. 2, along with a photo of the tree from last December. “Please bring Christmas back to my beautiful library.”
Dedham is reportedly decked out in the Christmas spirit elsewhere, with Christmas trees standing tall inside the town hall and in a community garden just steps away from the library.
But Desmond’s post went viral, enraging yuletide zealots for whom the holiday would apparently be ruined if they didn’t see a Christmas tree while checking out a book.
Mario Taddeo said he’s a Dedham resident who was “outraged” over the decision, which he said robbed him of a tradition.
“I also find it ironic for a town based on Freedom to experience the repression of our traditions,” Taddeo wrote in a lengthy Facebook post. He later added in a comment under the post that America was “founded on the freedom of expression and not the dictatorship of a few.”
Desmond, who didn’t respond to a Facebook message from The Daily Beast, posted that she had to call the police over threats made to her, though she didn’t specify how many or their nature.
“I was actually put into a category with murderers—that was probably the lowest point I’ve ever had,” she told WBZ Radio.
The Dedham Human Rights Commission said Tuesday that one of its members, Diane Loud, has resigned, days after she posted a bizarre expletive-laden comment trashing anyone who advocated for the Christmas tree to go back up.
“Lisa Desmond: FUCK YOU,” Loud wrote in part. “Everyone will tell me that you’re a selfish fucking bitch who does not care about anyone but herself. For a tree? For a motherfucking TREE? You have put people’s lives in a lot of danger. A LOT of danger. For a motherfucking Christmas tree.”
The tirade also called out other Dedham residents, who Loud deemed were “fucking trash” that she wishes “great suffering” upon. The Human Rights Commission did not comment on Loud’s statements when announcing her resignation.
Taddeo, Desmond, and others enraged by the decision were planning to speak at a Board of Library Trustees meeting on Tuesday evening.
“Have your voice heard,” Taddeo said. “If you can’t make it, a letter to the board might help.”
Things got so heated that the town released a statement Thursday, begging everyone to calm down.
“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,” the statement said.
“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.”