Re U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood's guest column in the Dec. 8 News-Times, "ACLU gets it wrong again":
While I feel the same way Norwood does about the ACLU, I find myself in the embarrassing position of having to defend them on one point. Norwood claims the Ten Commandments form the basis of our legal system, which is flatly wrong.
I will grant that the prohibitions on killing, stealing and perjury, Commandments 6, 8 and 9, are part of our law, but these are no-brainers for the legal world. We have no law requiring the worship of Jehovah, so the First Commandment is out the door. So is No. 2, forbidding graven images. If we made this law, you would be arrested for having a crucifix or a painting of Jesus in your house or church. ...
While it is in bad taste, it is not illegal to use the Lord's name in vain. We have to toss out No. 3. I don't recall anyone getting arrested for working on the Sabbath, which, by the way, is Saturday. The pagan emperor Constantine moved it to Sunday to coincide with the worship of the sun god (hence the name of the day). There goes No. 4.
No. 5 is out, too. We are not required by law to honor our parents, which is good, because the intent of this law was to allow parents to arrange marriages and force us to follow our father's profession. How un-American! This is not to say we shouldn't be respectful to our parents, which is a good idea.
Some states do outlaw adultery, and while it is clearly wrong, I don't think our prisons are big enough to hold all the violators of No. 7.
Last is No. 10. It is not illegal to covet thy neighbor's possessions, even though it is not a good idea. But note how this commandment includes the wife, sandwiched between the house, manservant and ox, like any other possession. I think we have philosophically moved beyond the idea that a wife is a possession.
So unless you wish to strip down the Ten Commandments to the three that correspond to American law, this obviously religious document has no place in our courthouses. We do not claim trial before God. This is not Sharia.
Our justice system, trial before our peers, is very flawed, but it is probably the best to be found on this planet. Our laws were not brought down from the mountain. They are the result of logical consideration of the principles of American rights and freedoms while trying to maintain order and the safety of our citizens.
Finally, Charlie, please don't lean so far right. We, the voting public, are tired of having to choose between a bleeding-heart liberal and an ultra-conservative religious right candidate.
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