Full of sound and fury

In these times when banks demonstrated that they couldn’t be trusted with the enormous responsibility that they were given, leading to economic horror stories and an unstable job market, it’s refreshing to see our administration putting a lot of effort into actions that can only improve our situation.

I’m talking, of course, about Ten Commandments Weekend and the push to have plaques with the commandments installed on courthouse or state capitol properties across the nation. And here, I thought a national day of prayer couldn’t possibly be topped for positive action.

Oh, no, you’re thinking. Here’s goes another atheist off on a rant about some benign christian activities. But you’re wrong – I actually approve of the actions. You see, if anyone is brain-damaged enough to think that this is functional in some way, and if the populace is childish enough to vote for anyone like that, these things are good to know. It’s like when they put “Student Driver” on the backs of cars – it’s just that extra little bit of warning, you know?

The idea behind this, or so it’s claimed, is that the ten commandments are the cornerstone of our laws and morals, and so we need to be, um, reminded of what they are, I guess, because a knowledge of the specific laws (that everyone manages just fine) isn’t enough. We need to know just where they came from, so we thank christians (or is it jews?) for their input in making us safe. I think.

To be honest, I really don’t know why this is being promoted, because it sends a very distinct message that people are total fucking morons. A quick perusal of the ten commandments (any version you prefer because, as has been noted countless times now, there are several versions in the same damn collection of scripture) will show that their usefulness is about on a par with looking both ways before you cross the street and not swimming for an hour after eating. Some of them are useful (don’t kill, don’t steal) but do we really need to be reminded of these? It seems kind of ignorant to think that we needed these to create laws when chimpanzees and wolves have much the same social structure, you know? And then others are simply superfluous. “Honor they father and mother” – do we actually have any laws based on this? Are there laws that specifically denote “father” and “mother” in any kind of special way, so that you’re in violation if you’re not honoring them? And what exactly constitutes “honor”?

[A quick note: you did notice that “Thou shalt not kill” doesn’t specify humans, didn’t you? That leaves rocks and dirt for food, provided you carefully sweep off the microorganisms first. Just a reminder.]

George Carlin pointed out long ago that coveting your neighbor’s wife or property is not exactly enforceable, since they’re “thought crimes” and if you find that your neighbor’s wife is hot (husbands are not mentioned, because gender bias is something god approves of,) a plaque in the courthouse foyer isn’t going to correct that in any way – unless, perhaps, she works in the courthouse. You’d think god would have figured this one out. But worse, coveting property is what actually motivates us to improve; we pay for houses, cars, and so on by working harder and earning more money. They’re the neighbor’s possessions until we pay for them, aren’t they? And in most cases we actually need them, even if we don’t need them to be as elaborate as they might be. These are just vague and misdirected commandments, really.

The first few are the most amusing, however. “I am god,” yeah, fine, too bad you always manage to speak through proxies, mister omnipotent. “Don’t pay attention to those other gods” – wait, what other gods? Am I the only one to notice that this says either that there are more than just the one, or that it’s really easy to mistake something else for a god? Again, you’d think telling a real god apart should be rather easy, but I guess not, so I suppose we should always ask for ID. And let’s not forget, “Don’t take my name in vain.” Now, as far as I’m concerned, you can do any damn thing you want with my name, because seriously, that’s playground shit. But it seems there’s an issue about this when you’re omnipotent. Anyway, it serves the cornerstone of our laws – you can look up the very laws that were influenced by these anytime. Just like keeping the sabbath holy – we need these laws! If people were to work on Sundays (or maybe Saturdays – moses was jewish after all) and cuss, there’d be total chaos! People! Take a stand for morality! And if you lop your hand off on the weekend, just wait for Monday when the hospitals reopen. Ice is cheap for that very reason.

Yes, it’s a damn good thing our representatives and congressmen are fighting to maintain such wonderful standards! We need to know the history of the laws themselves! History is a good thing – we can relive mistakes if we fail to understand the important lessons of history. You know, like theocratic states and allowing religion to dictate government. Oh, wait, I didn’t just remind everyone that government itself isn’t religious (there’s this little thing about taking oaths to that very effect as they assume office) and that we’re supposed to be open to any and all religions as part of the guaranteed freedoms – did I?

So, yeah, I’m very much in favor of any representative, congressman, senator, mayor, or ombudsman who parades their abject ignorance so publicly. It makes it much easier to tell them apart come election time. I even pay attention to how much public support such things have, because it’s far easier than trying to administer IQ tests to the populace, and less time-consuming than putting a box of rocks in front of them and seeing if they can outsmart it.

But maybe I’ve got this all wrong. Perhaps those nice upstanding politicians recognize that religion is waning in this country, and are taking steps to counteract this. We all know that, a few hundred years ago when religion was omnipresent and many countries were governed by holy authority, there was no crime at all. Thing were much better then, especially when you could burn the witches and ward off demonic possession with blessings and holy water. When the churches helped most people through the eye of the needle and into heaven by relieving them of their filthy riches, taking the onus of damnation on themselves by hoarding the wealth of the populace. Ah, good times!

Unlike today, when things are so shitty and armageddon is coming… soon. Any day now, really. It says so right here in the scripture, if you can figure the rebus out. A church on every corner, godly slogans on currency and pledges, illness-survivors and sports figures crediting god for their triumphs, these just aren’t enough to hold back the atheist horde; the US needs plaques! Atheists can’t stand plaques – we can’t cross running water either. This country will get back on a fine moral footing with plaques.

Anyway, it’s not like the members of our government are being funded by the taxpayers to provide specific functions or anything, so who cares what they get up to?

I can imagine someone saying that it’s really all just a ploy by politicians to appear pious and moral and trustworthy, but seriously, can you really buy that? The premise requires people, especially religious people, to be weak-minded enough to find these actions worthwhile and a higher priority than, say, politicians simply doing their jobs. That they believe those particular politicians firmly follow the commandments against lying, stealing, and adultery. There aren’t that many criminally na├»ve chuckleheads out there, are there?


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