A Voice In The Crowd: Ten Commandments–for whom?
By Jim Spelman
Ten Commandmentsfor whom?
An editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times for Sunday, March 3, was entitled, Commandments Cant Do Any Harm, and although its point isnt absolutely clear, it certainly says that posting the 10 commandments in public places is the right thing to do. Rarely do we witness someone slicing their own throat, but thats what the Sun-Times came close to doing when it allowed the piece to be run. The thinking behind it is as ingenuous as that of a teenage boy on his first date.
In support of its conclusion, the editorial says in its second paragraph, Though Judeo-Christian in nature, they (the commandments) apply equally to people of all faiths and non-believers as well, setting us apart from those societies where freedom is not allowed to ring.
That sentence is oxymoronic. The commandments are Judeo-Christian. The statement that … they apply equally to all people… is a belief which, if given precedence by allowing the religious rules of some to be posted in schools and other public places, threatens, by implication, the precious right of those who believe otherwise to speak, assemble and worship as they believe.
The sentence is moronic as well as oxymoronic! In the face of church burnings, bombings, maimings, murders and wars occurring here and around the world and committed or fought in the name of one religion or another, to say that Judeo-Christian rules apply to everyone, tragically echoes the claims of all those who say their beliefs are better or truer than others. The conflicts between the Muslims and Hindus in India, the Palestinians and Israelis in the holy land, the Albanians, Serbs and Croats in old Yugoslavia and the United States and the perpetrators of the heinous September 11th debacle are just a few examples of what happens in such cases.
The wise men who wrote and ratified the U.S. Constitution considered the freedoms of speech, assembly and worship to be so closely interrelated and so paramount to the conduct and preservation of the democracy they were creating, that they put them at the top of the list in the First Amendment.
For the Chicago Sun-Times to suggest that a particular set of moral principles applies to all, flies in the face of that amendment, the very premise upon which its own unconstrained publication is based. The knife it unsheathed in its editorial is poised suicidally close to the journalistic jugular.
A principal reason that freedom does yet ring in this country (though, in my opinion, the ring has lost much of its clarity) is because this nation has basically remained a place of choice. Our ability to choose is our most precious asset. Protecting my right to speak, assemble and worship as I choose, protects the rights of all to select and practice their truths as they see fit. To allow any of our public entities to do or say anything that promotes, or even hints at promoting, one belief system over another is anti-choice, anti-American and unconstitutional!
Jim Spelman is a local attorney.