Jonah Goldberg

It's probably too late, now that Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's monument to the Ten Commandments has been wheeled out of the state Supreme Court's rotunda. But I have the perfect solution for this whole brouhaha. Ultimately, the spat launched by Moore is a political controversy. So let's do the political thing: compromise. If the ACLU et al. won't accept Ten Commandments, how about five?

Surely "Thou shall not steal" doesn't bother anybody. If it did, the ACLU would be suing to have laws against theft repealed (I know, I know: Don't give them any ideas). And a prohibition against bearing false witness shouldn't raise eyebrows now that Clinton's out of office.

Honoring thy father and mother is still considered "uncool" by much of the Hollywood crowd, but, really, where's the harm? And covetousness - at least in the forms of greed and materialism - has always been one of the left's biggest peeves, so no problems there. Also, going by the left's rhetoric on war and the death penalty alone, I have to assume they're not going to complain about the whole "Thou shall not kill" thing.

Hey, look at that, that's five right there.

Yeah, of course, we'd be giving up some good ones. "Thou shall not commit adultery" would hit the cutting room floor. But that one's been on the way out since the 1990s, anyway.

Let's admit it: The "No graven images" commandment was always confusing. And, depending on whose version of the Ten Commandments you're fond of (the wording, meaning and numbering of the Big Ten varies from faith to faith), we've been ignoring it for a long time already.

We even made a graven image of sorts - the film, "The Ten Commandments" - depicting God telling Moses not to make any such images. Perhaps the more appropriate movie reference here is Mel Brooks' "The History of the World, Part I," in which Brooks plays Moses coming down from Mount Sinai. He declares, "I bring you these 15 ." - and then he drops one tablet, breaking it - "Ten! I bring you these Ten Commandments."

Anyway, the church-and-state zealots only really get peeved about the commandments mentioning God. In most versions, that's only the first four. Commandments 5 through 10 are generally rules on how people should treat each other.

So, if we take black electrical tape and cross out the commandments dealing with His existence ("I am the Lord thy God ."; "Thou shall keep the Sabbath ." etc.) at least everyone will get something. To paraphrase Solomon: Let's cut the baby in half.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Jonah Goldberg's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.