Thursday, June 17, 2010

Discover Magazine on the Ten Commandments as Basis For American Law

They give the Decalogue a 3.5/10 as a basis for American civil law.


King of Ireland said...

I agree with him on this. The Ten Commandments have nothing to do with American law nor should they. They were written to Israel. Aquinas goes into all this. I think Frazer agrees too.

Tom Van Dyke said...

What's this clown talking about?

---You can't steal.
---You can't murder.
---You can't perjure yourself.
---You have to honor your father and mother at least until you're 18.
---Adultery's still technically illegal in many jurisdictions.
---48 of the 50 state constitutions have some form of God in them.

So, making graven images and coveting aren't illegal. Big deal. Can't really prove "coveting" in a court of law anyway.

I used to subscribe to Discover but now it's all culture war bullshit so I let it lapse.

King of Ireland said...

I think the problem he has and he is right in this sense it that having no others Gods and freedom of religion do not mix.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Tell 48 of the 50 states that. Or mebee Newdow will...


Jonathan Rowe said...

Tom I think you were doing well with your first 4. But,

---Adultery's still technically illegal in many jurisdictions.
---48 of the 50 state constitutions have some form of God in them.


The truth, as I see it, isn't too far from the author's opinion.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Weak sez you.

48 out of 50 states recognizing {One} God is incontrovertible. You could look it up.

Oh, wait. John Fea saved us some of the trouble.

I hope this part makes it into his new book.

Adultery? Well, they used to call it "alienation of affection," anyway, "homewrecking." You're a lawyer, you know the legal history.

So the family, the home, man woman and child, as the basic pre-political unit of society, let's not get into. I was simply arguing historically, factually.

It wasn't just based on prudery, you know. Adultery laws were more directed against homewrecking, not sex jollies. Let's be adults about this. Go fuck a tree for all I care.

bpabbott said...

Re: "Adultery's still technically illegal in many jurisdictions."

Is adultery a prosecutable offense? ... meaning does the executive actually prosecute?

I doubt they do, and if they did the case wouldn't likely make it to trial.

Re: "48 of the 50 state constitutions have some form of God in them."

When was the last time these states many any of these God references legally binding?

If a state were so bold as to support them today, they also wouldn't survive long in the courts.

There are multitudes of laws on the books that are null and void. The legislatures aren't going to legislate their removal because they are moot, and if a bill were proposed to remove them many seated in the legislature would lose their jobs in the ensuing culture war. The *real* war has been won. Those words found in the legal record do not carry any legal weight.

bpabbott said...

Regarding 10 Commandments, those by Solon are more consistent and compatible with our Nation's founding and culture.

1. Trust good character more than promises.
2. Do not speak falsely.
3. Do good things.
4. Do not be hasty in making friends, but do not abandon them once made.
5. Learn to obey before you command.
6. When giving advice, do not recommend what is most pleasing, but what is most useful.
7. Make reason your supreme commander.
8. Do not associate with people who do bad things.
9. Honor the gods.
10. Have regard for your parents.

King of Ireland said...

Jesus summed up all the law of the Torah and this did make it into what I am calling the founding phrase at the heart of the Declaration. I bet this guy never thought of that.

Jonathan Rowe said...

The way I see it: Okay Tom offers different "analysis" than that of the Discover author. The question is whose is more compelling?

You shall have no other gods before me, no idols? Do generic, and ceremonial references to God in state constitutions really reflect those commands?

In Puritan Mass., they interpreted those commands as requiring EXECUTION for those who worshipped false gods or had idols.

Freedom of speech and religion gives men an unalienable RIGHT to worship false gods or have idols. That, to me, pretty much demolishes the idea that the first tablet has anything to do with American civil law.

American was founded on the idea that men have an unalienable right to break the first tablet of the Decalogue.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Ben, it's pretty much a silly topic, Judge Ray Moore aside.

I already showed that numerically, the Discover guy's "3.5 out of 10" is BS.

I also forgot "Keep holy the Lord's day," which is indirectly in the Constitution [Sundays don't count], and Blue Laws against commerce on Sundays held on in some states until the 1970s.

The question here is not modern applications of the 14th Amendment, which can go anywhichway [and do, these days], but of what was normative at the Founding.

Adultery, we have addressed; the law's only interest in sex is that it makes babies. Today, sexual gratification has become the legal issue instead.

As for the "question" of God, which Jon and the original author offer as a trumping argument, there was no "question" about God---God was seen as a reality.

Yes, exceptions were made for private belief [since experience and religious wars had taught that's the best way], but anti-blasphemy laws were still constitutional, and in court, as Joseph Story wrote:

"infidels and pagans were banished from the halls of justice as unworthy of credit.".

Again, the normative.

Story's full text here..

In the same passage, although claiming Christianity as part of common law [denied by Jefferson], Story also decries any ecclesiastical [church] claim to civil law.

It's probably best that when the Supreme Court has allowed the Ten Commandments in public places, it's as a historical artifact of the history of law, not modern law itself. In fact, that the Ten Commandments are not the civil law is already de facto, and even as a guiding principle, soon will be barred de jure.