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Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 09:48:59 -0700 (PDT)

The "Separation of Church and State" you mind-numbed PC liberals worship so much does not exist. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states:
 "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF; or abridging the freedom of speech,
or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
 Sure is convenient to ignore the "OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF" part, isn't it?


Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 13:14:35 -0500

Dear Mr Hide,
    Thank for for writing with your challenge to me. May I have your permission to quote your letter in its entirety and answer you by name in my column?
Vern Barnet


Date:   Fri, 26 Jul 2002 11:27:26 -0700 (PDT)

Not those quotes, but I will tell you what: you have my permission to use one or both of the following quotes regarding this story

Homeless Man To Battle Over Ten Commandments In U.S. District Court In Austin

The next big fight over the separation of church and state will be here in Austin Monday morning. A homeless Austin man is suing in federal court to remove the words of the Ten Commandments from a monument on the capitol grounds. Thomas Van Orten says monument violates the establishment clause in the first amendment. The case goes to trial Monday in U.S. District Court.
How does posting the Ten Commandments result in the establishment of a religion? Government entitities post quotes of all sorts of people in public places all the time. Why is it that only religious quotes are prohibited?
How does posting the Ten Commandments differ from creating a graven image to the racist, mass-murdering tyrant Abraham Lincoln and his Gettysburg address? I
personally find the Lincoln Memorial to be extremely offensive. If we take down the Ten Commandments, can we take down the Lincoln Memorial too?


Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 14:26:12 -0500

Dear HIDE--
    I will reply in my column to your original question without naming you.
Please watch for it, probably Aug 7 or 14.
     The question of the Ten Commandments is fascinating, and too difficult to do in my tiny column. But I would be willing to discuss this with you by email.
     First, please answer these questions, before we get into the Constitutional questions.
     1. Where in the Bible are the Ten Commandments called the Ten Commandments? (Hint: Do you really want to prohibit seething a kid in its mother's milk?)
     2. Please tell me what the first commandment is, the second, and so forth, so I know which of the five major numbering systems you are using, or your own, to extract which 10 from the 12 or 13.
     3. Do you think the public should be encouraged to believe in many gods?
     4. Do you disapprove of photographs and statues of all sorts? What about movies and TV?
     5. Should we close down the malls, the movies, the police stations, the hospitals, fire departments, and such on Saturdays?
     6. Should a daughter honor a father who molested her?
     7. Should we stone adulterers to death or just gas or fry them?
     8. Do you believe that the sins of those who violate the Ten Commandments will cause the children, the grandchildren, and the great grandchildren to be punished?
     9. How should those who take the Lord's name in vain be punished?
     10. How would our economy be affected if we outlawed people coveting stuff?
     Answer these questions for me, and you will help me know how we can proceed with a discussion, if you would like.


Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 12:46:54 -0700 (PDT)

     I would be happy to debate you, but I do not have the time nor the inclination to debate more than one question at a time because it allows too much intellectual laziness.
     For the purposes of our discussion, the Ten Commandments are whatever is on that plaque in Austin that the homeless drug addict objects to.


Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 19:07:05 -0500
Mr Hide--
    I assure you I will not be intellectually lazy.
    If you want to do this, then first please provide me with the text on the plaque so we can see which version of the "Ten Commandments" we are talking about.
    I wonder of the text is the same as the one on the Wyandotte County Court House.
    If so, there is an interesting story behind it.
    Then please answer question #1.
    I assure you I have no particular desire to debate you, but I take my readers seriously and will do so if you are serious. I also assure you I work 60 hours a week and need nothing extra to do. But I will do this if you wish.


Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 13:13:40 -0700 (PDT)

Just for your information, I am not even religious. I believe in freedom, period. For EVERYONE, not just minorities and illegal immigrants and homeless drug

Food for thought: Why is it that political-correctness extremists like yourelf are a lot more interested in defining what people are NOT free to do than  what
they are free to do?

Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 19:11:42 -0500

Dear Mr Hide,
    What evidence do you have that I am  a lot more interested in defining what people are NOT free to do than  what they are free to do?
    My whole 32-year career has been about opening up opportunities, not closing them off. How do you know so much about me that you are able to make this statement about me? Where have I ever said anything that indicated I am more interested in defining what people are NOT free to do than what they are free to do?

Date: Sat, 27 Jul 2002 05:57:49 -0700 (PDT)

All I know about you is that smarmy article of yours last week. You ooze self-satisfied political correctness.

Date: Sat, 27 Jul 2002 06:04:12 -0700 (PDT)

    This is not a religious debate, Vern. I don't care what version of the Ten Commandments it is. I heard the head lawyer at the ACLU on the Michael Medved show last year when they had forced some town to take down a statue of some sort. She literally admitted that the ACLU is only interested in getting rid of Christian symbols. She admitted that if the town had had a statue of Buddha they wouldn't have cared.

You want to debate religious arcania for some sort of agenda of yours. I repeat: I am not even religious. I just think that freedom should apply to everyone, not
just the people you think are worthy of it.

Date: Sat, 27 Jul 2002 08:31:42 -0500

Dear Mr Hide,
    My expertise is in the field of religion. If you wish to have another kind of discussion, then it might be best for me to suggest that you find someone in the field in which you wish to have a discussion.
    I only have time for those who are willing to delve into the actual content of  issues, rather than superficial appearances. Our culture has become very superficial, and people make uninformed judgments. They are too lazy to accept serious challenges and do the work of providing evidence.
    I certainly agree with you that "freedom should apply to everyone." I am not aware of having said anything otherwise. You have not shown me any statements I have made that suggest the narrowing of freedom.
    I do believe that we are free to do things in our own homes, with our friends, in our own organizations, that are not appropriate when Americans of all varieties are brought together for a civic purpose. For example, I would defend  your right to use foul language in your own home, with your friends, and in any organizations to which you belong which accept that sort of thing. But I do not think that it is appropriate for certain words to be used at a PTA meeting, for example, especially if children are present. Your right to use foul language competes with my right to the freedom to protect my children from being assaulted by foul language. The way we have agreed to resolve such conflicts of freedoms is to recognize spheres of control. Thus you are free to be naked in your home; the public is free to manage public space. You can run around naked in your bedroom, but you may not interfere with my freedom to bring my children into the city parks without having a bunch of naked people cavorting around.
    I will reply to your original email in a forthcoming column, though I am disappointed you are not brave enough to allow me to use your name.  I believe people ought to accept responsibility for what they say. I sign my name to what I write. You are unwilling to be quoted by name. You seem to want freedom but not responsibility.
    You seem to have arguments with someone you saw on some TV show, and keep lumping me in with others you dislike. You have not convinced me you carefully considered what I have said.

With best wishes for understanding,
Vern Barnet