Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ready When You Are, C.B. 

Courtesy of our venerated colleague Susan Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla: As steadfast believers in the separation of chuch and state, we have long opposed the display of the Ten Commandments on government property. Today, however, our convictions were shaken when we learned that most of the handsome granite tablets in public squares across the land -- including one in Austin that is now at the crux of a case before the Supreme Court -- were put there with the personal blessing of Moses himself:
Judge [E.J.] Ruegemer had an idea: print up copies [of the Ten Commandments] for courtrooms and classrooms.

His project, taken up by an organization called the Fraternal Order of Eagles, eventually got the attention of Cecil B. DeMille, the legendary director whose epic The Ten Commandments hit theaters in 1956 . . . .

About 4,000 granite slabs were eventually placed by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. They include the one in Austin that the Supreme Court is considering - and one in Fair Park in Dallas.

The stars of the movie, Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner and Martha Scott, attended many of the dedications.
As much as it pains us to admit we were wrong, we now believe the monuments should remain in place, since they clearly represent not an endorsement of religion by the state, but rather a celebration of Our Show-Biz Heritage. We do think their commemorative value could be greatly enhanced by the addition of some supplementary artwork -- perhaps a small bas-relief of Heston getting all righteous on some of those half-nekkid Hebrew women as they wriggle licentiously on, under, and around the statue of Baal.

There is no truth, by the way, to the persistent rumor that the Washington Monument was erected by P.T. Anderson as a publicity stunt for Boogie Nights.

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