Thou Shalt Not Kill: Why Judge Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments monument is so silly
by Edwin Decker
One time, when I was about 16 years old, I said the F-word to my mother. It was all very silly, really. I was accused of something I didn’t do, an argument ensued, it escalated and then I cursed her out and ran downstairs to my room.
The next sound I heard was the thunderous pounding of my father’s footfalls, marching down the stairs to beat the lip off of me. Dad was not an abusive man. He was of the opinion that, "You don’t ever speak to your mother that way again, you snotty little punk!" Luckily for me, my father was not religious, for the bible says, "He that curseth his mother shall surely be put to death."
Whew! That could’ve been ugly.
The bible is big on capital punishment. In Leviticus 24:16, it warns, "He that Blasphemeth the Lord thy God shall be stoned." In Leviticus 20:14 it says, "If a man taketh a wife and her mother, they shall be burnt with fire." Exodus 31:15: "Whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day shall surely be put to death."
O’ the list doth go on: False Gods = Death. Unbelief = Death. Wicca = Death. Incest = Death. Swinging = Death. Bestiality = Death. Spamming = Death (burnt by fire, one would hope). Queer = Death. Adultery = Death.
How about this one, from Exodus 21:29: "If the Ox did push with his horn in time past… and he hath again [apparently ox gorings were rampant back then]; the ox shall be stoned and his owner put to death."
So here’s what gets me: After all that killing they’ve got going on in the Bible, the authors still had the utter gall to make "Thou Shalt Not Kill," the Sixth Commandment.
Well that’s just plain silly. The Ten Commandments are just silly. And Judge Roy Moore’s ongoing battle to keep his 5,000-pound stone monument to the Commandments on the public grounds of the Alabama Supreme Court is silliest of all. I mean, let’s forget for a moment all the legal issues, like, you know, state vs. federal law, and what the founding fathers intended and how to interpret the First Amendment. Those are complex issues that will never be agreed upon, so there is little point in discussing them any further. No, the best and simplest testament as to why the law should not regard the Ten Commandments is that they are just too damn silly to take seriously?
• "Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Goods"?: Silly.
• "Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Wife"?: Silly and unfeasible.
• "Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me"?: Silly and lame.
• "Thou Shalt Not Take the Lord’s Name in Vain"?: Holy blow me Jesus fucking Christ, that is sooo silly.
• "Thou Shalt Not Make False Gods; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous god, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon thy children unto the third and fourth generation.": Childish, evil, pathetic, unforgiving and, oh yeah, really goddam silly.
• "Thou Shalt Not Make Unto Thee Any Graven image…": "Graven" means "an object that is engraved." Hellooo—those stone tablets Moses brought down the mountain?—they’re graven. Basically, the Lord thy God decreed that we not worship engravings, and then he engraved a stone Decalogue for us to worship—which makes the Lord thy God quite a silly thing. Even his name is silly: "Lord Thy God," is redundant. It’s like saying, wife thy spouse. "Hey, have you met my wife thy spouse?" Or, "I simply must phone my mom thy parent."
But none so silly as Judge Roy Moore, his lawyer Herb Titus, Dr. James Dobson (Focus on the Family) and all those vigilant, theocentric crackpots in Alabama who were kneeling and praying at the base of Moore's enormous stone monument. For it is their argument that the Ten Commandments is not a religious document after all. Rather, it’s the moral basis for our entire legal system. Then they proceed to quote the only two commandments that support that theory: "Thou Shalt Not Steal" and "Thou Shalt Not Kill."
Of course, they never mention the other seven or so blatantly Christian Commandments that are absolute insults to the First Amendment: There’s that "No Blasphemeth the Lord" drivel and the "No Work on Sabbath" crap. There’s that eerie, "No Strange Gods Before Me" twaddle (which is no basis for any American law I know of and an affront to every other religion in the country).
And that "Thou Shalt not Commit Adultery" santorum flies in the face of the real moral foundation for the Great American Legal System, which goes something like this: "Stay out of my business, asshole." Even "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is not a basis for the American way—what with so many cops gunning their way through due process, and electric chairs dimming prison light bulbs all across America, and the American war machine dropping bombs as it sees fit—who are they kidding with that "Thou Shalt Not Kill" bullshit?
If the Ten Commandments ever really were to become the foundation for the American legal system, well then they could stone me for the blasphemy you’re reading right now. And suddenly, it doesn’t seem so silly any more.
These are the things that make the Ten Commandments the second most uninspiring, un-redemptive, inelegant, offensive, ridiculous document of all time—and to display it anywhere near our legal system is pure madness. Hey Judge, I’ve got your blasphemy right here pal. Take thou 5,000-pound graven image and shove it in thy sacro-stanky anus.