Editorial: Another low for Alabama — House’s Ten Commandments debate doesn’t move the state forward
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Feb 21, 2014 | 3704 views |  0 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Five theories for why the Alabama House of Representatives spent several hours Thursday arguing over the Ten Commandments:

1. IT’S AN ELECTION YEAR: The debate over a bill that would post the Decalogue on state property fires up the typical Alabama conservative voter, who longs to hear their representative in Montgomery is fighting against the godless pagans.

Exactly where are those heathens trying to infiltrate Alabama? Better to not ask too many questions.

2. IT’S AN ELECTION YEAR: The debate serves a two-fold purpose, election season-wise. The two hours spent haggling over the Ten Commandments and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment were two hours lawmakers didn’t have to spend fixing/properly funding Alabama schools or lowering rates of infant mortality, teen pregnancy, obesity and other chronic problems.

Better to stand with Moses than to raise the hackles of narrow interests opposed to smart, progressive government.

3. IT’S A FINANCIAL WINDFALL FOR TRIAL LAWYERS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES ORGANIZATIONS: OK, this might be far-fetched, but consider:

A law mandating placing the Ten Commandments on state property is a lawsuit waiting to happen. These monuments will land in courtrooms quicker than you can say, “Thomas Jefferson.” And who do you need to sue? A good attorney, that’s who.

The legal fees and fundraising for groups like the ACLU will pile up, all thanks to Rep. DuWayne Bridges, R-Valley, the bill’s chief proponent. No one could claim DuWayne is a double-agent only posing as a proud Alabama conservative. However, we’re sure even he’d remind us that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

4. ALABAMA’S LEGISLATURE NEEDED A BREAK-OUT MOMENT: Thus far in 2014 this state’s lawmakers have been outdone by so many others.

Kansas has considered legalizing discrimination against gays.

In Georgia, legislators are considering making it easier to carry a gun into church or a bar. (What could go wrong in either place, right?)

And in West Virginia, lawmakers are boldly mulling weaker environmental laws even as part of the state is still recovering from a chemical spill that polluted drinking water for thousands.

Standing out is tough for a statehouse. A Ten Commandments debate that touched on Jesus’ age, the definition of adultery and college baseball just might get us there.

5. BECAUSE THEY CAN: This is the same Republican-led Legislature that brought us the anti-immigrant law, the voter-ID law and the failing-schools law, all of which proved our lawmakers are lousy at pondering the consequences of writing laws.

The proposed amendment of the state Constitution to allow the Ten Commandments on public property, including schools, passed the House 77-19, with four abstentions.

Many of those 77 yay votes were once confident that the 2011 immigration bill would work out just great for Alabama. They were wrong, as HB56 has been a big loser in the courts as well as in the state’s efforts at PR.

Many of those 77 were equally pleased with the Alabama Accountability Act, which in its first year has barely made a ripple in public education.

Others in the delegation of 77 yes votes see no problem in making it harder for the poor and the elderly to vote. That law, which takes effect this year, is one more low for this state.

With that track record, Thursday’s Ten Commandments vote was hardly a shock.
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