Tennessee – Legislating Stupidity a County at a Time

Jun 11 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Gary Cass’ DefendChristians.org is happy as can be:

This month the Tennessee State House of Representatives unanimously passed a remarkable resolution. It urges each county to allow the Ten Commandments to be posted at their courthouses. Ninety percent of Tennessee counties have adopted similar resolutions acknowledging the Ten Commandment as the foundation for our legal system.

So what you’re saying is that we should take joy that Ninety percent of Tennessee counties are governed by idiots? That’s something to celebrate? I understand that the Republican Party is about destroying education and a general dumbing-down of America, but isn’t celebrating it a little crass?

The Ten Commandments are not the foundation of our legal system. Passing a resolution saying they are cannot change that. Anyone with functioning brain cells can compare the Ten Commandments to English common law – the true foundation of our legal system, and see that the two do not compare. Has anyone seen these clauses in the Constitution or in the Bill of Rights?:

I am the Lord your God

You shall have no other gods before me

You shall not make for yourself an idol

Do not take the name of the Lord in vain

Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy

No, and you won’t even find God there, let alone anything he is supposed to have said.

Go read about the debates surrounding the Constitutional convention and look for the Ten Commandments. You won’t find them. Stewart Jay writes that “Many provisions of the Constitution employed common-law terms, and common-law principles were expected to provide guidance, as is indicated by various statements made during the ratification process.”[1]

The debates between the Federalists and the Republicans in the 1790s were over common law, not the Ten Commandments, and they reflected different visions of society and government. 

Jay provides examples:

Smith v. Alabama 124 U.S. 465, 478-79 (1888): “The interpretation of the Constitution of the United States is necessarily influenced by the fact that its provisions are framed in the language of the English common law, and are to be read in light of its history.”

Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. (21 Wall.) 162, 167 (1874): Since the Constitution is silent as to who shall be natural-born citizens, the meaning of the term must be found in the common law, “with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar.”

To show how dependent upon common law our Founders were, Jay notes the “statement of James Madison objecting to using the term ‘felony’ because it was vaguely defined in the common law.”[2]

Gosh, you mean the Ten Commandments didn’t cover it? No, I mean they weren’t even consulted. The Ten Commandments (there aren’t 10 of them anyway) were neither the basis for our system of government nor the basis for our legal system.

No debate, mind you, on the Ten Commandments as a means of providing guidance.

Common law is ultimately derived from ancient Germanic Pagan legal systems – old Germanic law in England, and via England, the United States, where we also practice Roman law – that is to say, civil law. No part of our legal system comes from ancient Israel or from the Ten Commandments. Our legal terminology is Roman, not Jewish. Unpalatable facts, no doubt, to the ignorant but facts nonetheless.

Next they’ll be telling us the word “Senate” is from the Old Testament too, when that in fact also comes from Pagan Rome, as the word “senatus” found in formula, SPQR – Senatus Populusque Romanus (“The Senate and People of Rome”). It meant, to the Romans, “government of the People in that all authority derives from the People – not God, but the people.

In Israel, in the Old Testament in which we find the Ten Commandments, of course, God is sovereign and all authority derives from God. This isn’t at all like the American legal system or the American system of government. Not even close. There is a reason we call our chief executive “president” and not “high priest.”

I guess we better let the Egyptians know that we legislated that aliens built the pyramids. Sorry guys. Facts don’t matter anymore. They’re just not relevant. All that matters now is what you want to be true.

The style of Republican thinking that assumes you can negate anthropogenic global warming by voting it out of existence or change facts with a simple vote is an example of extremism, a denial of reality and fact so vehement that it amounts to a child plugging his ears or covering his eyes to avoid having to confront an unpleasant truth.

Not a pretty picture. But this what is what the Republican Party and Christian fundamentalists have arrived at. This is why David Barton has a career as a historical revisionist, simply inventing “facts” as needed, re-writing our history books to make them more “conservative” by cutting out those nasty liberal figures who gum up the ideology. Paul Revere is suddenly warning the British. We can make it so by altering Wikipedia.

Sorry. It doesn’t work like that. To even think that altering Wikipedia is going to change the facts is childish and absurd. But this, apparently, is how they think: in childish, absurd terms.

DefendChrisians.org wants us to make stupidity a communicable disease:

Here’s what you can do. Click here to get the language of the Tennessee resolution. Then get your Christian friends and family to join you in urging your local county and state officials to adopt the resolution.

So be stupid! Spread it around!

Republican America: the last refuge of the congenitally stupid. Just wait, instead of “Is the Pope Catholic?” we’ll be uttering absurdities like, “Is the [Roman] Consul Jewish?” Personally, I think it would be better if we just keep the disease carriers isolated.


[1] Stewart Jay, “Origins of Federal Common Law: Part One,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 133 (Jun., 1985), pp. 1003-1116.

[2] Jay (1985), 1034.

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