Tuesday, June 28, 2005

What the Fuss?!

So yesterday, the SCOTUS released its conclusions on two cases related to the placing of the ten commandments (one from Kentucky, and the other from TX) in monument form in or near public buildings or on public property.

I'm not going to get all into the specifics of how the cases were decided and why certain groups were displeased with the outcomes.

But I do think it's an opportune time to discuss just what exactly it is about the ten commandments that has everybody, particularly the fundies, so upset and implacable. Just how meaningful are these edicts from ~3,000 BCE?

The first commandment is "thou shall have no other gods before me". It's not clear how this would get translated into public policy. Let's continue.

The second commandment is "thou shall not bow down to any graven images". Not sure how this would get applied either but it makes me wonder about the whole pledge of allegiance thing.

The third commandment is "thou shall not take the name of the lord thy god in vain". This has commonly been interpreted as meaning thou shall not swear or use the name of god as a curse word. Do the fundies want a prohibition against all curse words or just against those that include god's name in them?

The fourth commandment is "remember the sabbath day to keep it holy". Do the fundies want to enforce a day of worship? If so, which one? The commandment specifies that the seventh day is the sabbath, but most christians worship on sunday.

The fifth commandment is "honor thy father and thy mother". Sounds good. But how do we do that? What if our parents are bad or don't like god?

The sixth commandment is "thou shall not steal". This seems pretty straight forward.

The seventh commandment is "thou shall not commit adultery". This seems pretty marriage specific. I take it then that homosexuality, masturbation, and pornography are outside the domain of this law. Do the fundies want more penalties against divorce?

The eighth commandment is "thou shall not kill". See response to number six.

The ninth commandment is "thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor". Usually interpreted as thou shall not lie. Most people don't like lying so this seems like a good one.

The tenth commandment is "thou shall not covet thy neighbor's [property]". Sounds like a thought crime to me. Unenforceable.

So outside of numbers six and eight, I don't see much here that can be applied to today's society. But numbers six and eight also don't strike me as terribly original. Most societies, with or without a judeochristian heritage think stealing and murder are bad things.

So what is it that the fundies think they're contributing to the debate and the ordering of society by having the commandments erected everywhere for all to see?

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