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04.18 'Decades of denial': major report finds New Zealand's environment is in serious trouble

04.17 Thawing Permafrost Emitting Higher Levels of Potent Greenhouse Gas Than Previously Thought: Study

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04.13 With Youth Climate Actions Backed by Leading Experts, Latest Round of Protests Highlights Call for Bold and Urgent Action

04.11 Will You Rise Up for Climate Justice Next Week? Don’t Let Fatalism and Cynicism Hold You Back

04.11 300+ Groups to Congress: #GreenNewDeal 'Must Transform Our Food System and Revitalize Rural America'

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  How to Interpret the Ten Commandments
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How to Interpret the Ten Commandments

An attempt at legal analysis of Biblical law following Gonzalesian logic.

Thankfully, Gonzales finally straightened out two centuries of muddle-headed lawmaking the other day when he testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding government surveillance.
Being the chief of the world’s largest law office has got to be one tough job. The U.S Constitution is, like, really complicated. For example, Section 8, Powers of Congress, states that Congress shall have the power to grant “Letters of Marque.” Whoa, is that French? And Under Section 9, Limits of Congress, it states, “no bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.” Latin! Who but the best among us study Latin? You have to be, like, a scholar to even read the Constitution. I mean, there’s stuff that seems understandable because it’s written in plain English, like, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial,” but obviously “speedy” and “public” are Latin terms that a layperson like me is not meant to understand; otherwise the whole Guantanamo thing just wouldn’t make sense. And since, as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales states, the whole Guantanamo thing is perfectly legal, it also must make sense.

Whew! Having super smart people interpret the Constitution for us makes me feel so much safer. Left to my own devices, I might incorrectly believe that the amendment against “involuntary servitude” applied to all those illegal brown people (slavery only applies to Blacks, right?) crawling over our border taking away our servitude. It’s just so confusing!

The other day, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales proved just how knuckleheaded the American people are (our low standard of education should be a crime!). There’s this thing in the Constitution called habeus corpus which you have to write in italics because it’s Latin. Anyways, I guess for over two hundred years Americans have assumed (remember when you assume you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”) that habeas corpus—which according to my dictionary is “a writ for inquiring into the lawfulness of the restraint of a person who is imprisoned or detained in another’s custody”—applied to everyone under the Constitution. Well, thankfully, Gonzales finally straightened out two centuries of muddle-headed lawmaking the other day when he testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding government surveillance. Senator Specter was challenging him about the whole Guantanamo thing and the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld that under the Constitution, the detainees have a right to habeas corpus. Well, obviously the Attorney General has a bigger say than the Supreme Court on such matters, because according to him “there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution.” Then Specter was like, “Wait a minute. The Constitution says you can’t take it away, except in the case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus, unless there is an invasion or rebellion?” And Gonzales was like, “The Constitution doesn't say that every individual in the United States or every citizen has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.” Oooohhhh, I get it. If the law doesn’t say stuff really specifically, then it doesn’t apply in any big universal kind of way; and if it doesn’t say something in the affirmative but just says “you can’t take it away,” without specifying from whom, then it’s all totally relative! You could tell Senator Specter was so blown away by the brilliance of this guy’s logic, and you could tell the Attorney General was right because he had this all-knowing Mona Lisa smile on his face.

God, I wish I had gone to law school. I would know how to really think about stuff. The thing is, since I’m just a nobody. I know I don’t have any right to interpret legal texts or even really have opinions about things, but I can at least try to emulate the brilliant logic of Attorney General Gonzales by practicing it myself--and slowly, over time, I might one day be able to automatically shoot down people’s arguments with a cool one-liner, a wink and a smile. So I’m going to start off with another legal-ish text that on its surface seems real straightforward, and see if I can put Gonzales’ logic to use to re-interpret it for the post-9/11 world. We’ve gotta learn to look at everything differently now that 9/11 happened. As Bob Dylan said, “the times they are a changin’,” but I prefer the old Latin “panton est diversus iam.

Okay--here goes. My attempt at the Ten Commandments following Gonzalesian logic:

  1. I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me.

    Since it does not explicitly state that God exists outside the borders of the United States, God must not exist outside of the United States. In fact, God IS the United States and the President is our Pope—except the Pope is Catholic and German and the Germans are godless Communists and we failed to extinguish Communism in Vietnam and therefore must extinguish Islamism in the Middle East.

  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

    There is no explicit mention here of oil. It is totally fine to make an idol out of oil and to watch "American Idol." Guantanamo is surrounded by water, out of which the Leftist Jew-dominated media has created a Golden Calf in its own terrorist-sympathizer image.

  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

    Notice there’s no mention here of “Allah.” Catch my drift?

  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

    It doesn’t say here that you can’t lynch foreign dictators on the Sabbath and since there is no other Sabbath than the Christian Sabbath, there are no other Holy Days. “Keeping it holy” is the same as “keepin’ it real” which is the same as “keepin’ it simple,” which means don’t overthink things for Christ’s sake!

  5. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land.

    No clause here about honoring your daddy once you succeed him as President. If that happens, all bets are off. You show him who’s boss!

  6. You shall not murder.

    As long as you don’t murder someone, everything else you do to him is totally permissible. Dress ‘em in black hoods, electrocute ‘em, unleash dogs on ‘em and don’t let ‘em sleep! If they should happen to experience organ failure as a result of your interrogation techniques, that is so not your problem! The doctors will exonerate you with their death certificates, and it doesn’t say anything about doctoring death certificates here, so--blessings all!

  7. You shall not commit adultery.

    Since adultery contains the word “adult,” it is okay to have sex with children. It is also okay to send children into a war under false pretenses. You know why? Cause it doesn’t say you can’t!

  8. You shall not steal. There is no explicit mention here about paying contractors billions and billions of dollars to take ownership over and reconstruct nations that we destroy. Also, there is no need to hold them accountable or ask them to share some of their profits with the natives. Stealing is what people do in liquor stores and that is totally forbidden.

  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

    This is one of those rare occasions when the law is meant to be taken totally literally. If you live at 22 Lincoln Avenue, don’t testify falsely against the guy living at 24 Lincoln Avenue, 20 Lincoln Avenue, or even the guy across the street at 23. Do, however, feel free to testify in secret military tribunals with false evidence if it will help keep America safe. Just make sure it isn’t your NEIGHBOR neighbor.

  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife...or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

    This one’s kinda like the last one, only it has more to do with your intentions. Do not take other people’s stuff, their wives, their nations or their lives unless you feel in your heart that it will make them free. If you have that freedom feeling and not that covetous feeling, then history will look kindly upon you no matter how many people have to die for your cause!

Deborah Kory, of Berkeley, Calif., is a graduate student and a member of the Network of Spiritual Progressives. Read more of her work on her blog.

Copyright © 2007 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

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This story was published on January 22, 2007.

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