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August 28, 2003



yo dawg,
i tend to fall into the "Ya gotta watch out for those Christers" slippery/slope camp and I don't believe that the key Founding Fathers were "deeply" religious... but this is a good post. Nice and even-keeled and I don't feel like ranting, raving, spitting tacks or anything.

Good work.

Rex Stetson

I don't really care one way or the other about Commandments on public (government) property, as long as they're not taxpayer funded. The first three aren't compatible with United States law at all, the 4th is utterly meaningless, and the tenth (or 9th and 10th if you follow the catholic version) is at best a helpful suggestion. I don't know if adultery is on the scale of murdering and stealing, but it's certainly in the realm of lying. Since the legal system punishes these four things ( in criminal (murder, theft)and civil cases- (There are all sorts of fraud, wrongful death, perjury, and fault divorce, etc)I think these four should be allowed to stand. But people are so touchy when you start editing The Word Of God....
Well, laws can be changed in our system, so I would have to say that the commandments 1-4 and 9/10 aren't compatible.

But if the commandment fans REALLY wanted to beat the ACLU, they would file a brief against the US Supreme Court, who proudly display the commandments on their wall. This would get around the Certoriari Act and force the issue.
It would be too politically unpopular, i suspect, too remove them, and I think the SC would be pissed off at whoever filed the suit and find against them out of spite, for not minding their own damn business. That is why the ACLU hasn't done it. Much like the attempts to overturn the DC handgun ban, there is no state legislature to deal with ( DC is federal jurisdiction) so thie is THE place to make a challenge if you want a quickie SC precedent (it's like, one or two appeals later here.)



Thanks a lot. I am just truly ambivalent about this issue, though this incident on the whole moved me closer to what you describe as your views, but I think that other similar cases are not nearly so cut and dry, and I think we're going to see a lot of similar controversies in the next few years for the reasons I talked about. Thanks again for the compliment.


"Its like, one or two appeals later here" lol. Have you seen Christopher Hitchens's "fisking" of the Ten Commandments? It's kind of similar to what you did.

Rex Stetson

I read Hitchens' piece, I wasn't that impressed- and I usually like his work. He seemed to argue the opposite of what I did: that so many of the commandments were unamerican and antithetical to our system of governent/justice: such as "thou shalt not worship other gods" and "no graven images", "keep holy the sabbath", etc. being incompatible with "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting free exercise thereof".
The ones of which that can be said may have no business being funded or placed in a prominent position in a federal building, but they have never had the "force of law" as far as the government was concerned. "Thou shalt not covet your neighbor's wife" and "thou shalt not commit adultery" used to have government enforcement, but not anymore. I don't know how much perjury is prosecuted these days, but I know a LOT of lying goes on in courtrooms unpunished. So what we're basically looking at is a meaningless, weakened document- the only thing it really says anymore is "don't murder, don't steal, don't lie (at least about important things) and we frown slightly on adultery". Which is pretty damn close to natural law in the Lockian sense, and English Common Law- the foundations of our own system.

I just don't think there's anything really offensive there- unecessary, meaningless, outdated, sure- also some pretty good, clear law that we still use.

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