Special Report: al-Jazeera, the 10 Commandments and the Rule of Law
Vol: 26 Issue: 14 Friday, November 14, 2003
The man who hacked al-Jazeera’s website during the war with Iraq pleaded guilty to wire fraud and unlawful intereception of an electronic communication in June.
John William Racine II was a web designer from Los Angeles who was infuriated by the propaganda being spread by al-Jazeera, so he posed as an Al Jazeera employee to get a password to the network’s site.
Once inside, he redirected visitors to a page he created that showed an American flag shaped like a U.S. map and the motto, “Let Freedom Ring”.
At his sentencing, the judge said, “I don’t think of you as an evil person … but this was a crime. It wasn’t just a childish prank.”
Racine was sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service and a $2000 fine.
It would seem that every American would owe Racine 1000 hours of community service, at least to me, but the fact is that hacking is a crime. Even against al-Jazeera, which is unquestionably America’s ideological enemy.
This is another one of those Catch-22 situations in which the enemy uses our freedoms against us. During the Iraq war, al-Jazeera beamed propaganda footage of US damage to civilian targets (that never occurred), after the war an al-Jazeera correspondent was charged with having ties to al-Qaeda, and, since 9/11, Osama bin-Laden has used the Qatar-based network to broadcast coded strike messages to his operatives in the field disguised as anti-Western diatribes.
But America’s 1st Amendment guarantees the right to broadcast propaganda.
America is a nation of laws (except for a brief hiatus during the Clinton years) and Racine broke the law.
Personally, I’d like to give Racine my congratulations for his patriotism, and for proving he had the courage of his convictions. That he enjoyed the sympathy of the sentencing judge is evident from both his comments and the leniency of the sentence, but American justice was satisfied.
In another case, Judge Roy Moore was kicked off the bench of the Alabama Supreme Court for defying a federal court order to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the statehouse rotunda.
As I noted at the time, Moore had a strong ‘state’s rights’ case, but he chose instead to make it a case of Christians vs. the secular — sealing his fate. America is not a theocracy.
Instead of pressing the 10th Amendment issue that the federal government can’t dictate Alabama’s acknowledgment of the 10 Commandments as the basis for its legal code, Moore gave speeches about how Christian values were being eroded.
Moore also played into the government’s hands, by defining the argument in terms of religion. By framing it in the exact terms alleged by the government, that is to say, arguing it as being an issue of church and state, instead of the 10th Amendment principle of state’s rights, Moore’s arguments became the government’s best evidence against him.
The case I’ve been watching more closely is the one in Texas over the same issue. In that one, a homeless man sued the state, claiming a 10 Commandments monument on state capitol grounds was a government endorsement of Judeo-Christian values.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott didn’t argue Christians vs. the secular government. The government is supposed to be secular. And the 10 Commandments are Jewish Law, not Christian law. Jewish Law demands strict adherence to every detail of each commandment. Christians are not under the Law of Moses.
“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the Law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14) “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the Law” (Galatians 5:18) “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21) “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the Law to do them.” (Galatians 3:10)
So the Ten Commandments as an expression of religion isn’t even Christian. It is Jewish Law — and the legal basis upon which Jesus was tried, convicted and crucified. So Abbott didn’t argue Christianity.
Instead, the AG correctly acknowledged the Commandments are, “undoubtedly a sacred religious text, but they are also a foundational document in the development of Western legal codes and culture.”
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Austin agreed. In it’s decision, it said, “Even those who would see the Decalogue as wise counsel born of man’s experience rather than as divinely inspired religious teaching cannot deny its influence upon the civil and criminal laws of this country. That extraordinary influence has been repeatedly acknowledged by the Supreme Court and detailed by scholars. Equally so is its influence upon ethics and the ideal of a just society.”
Then the court summarized the entire 10 Commandments argument more effectively in one sentence than have all the briefs and all the speeches in all the court cases so far.
“There is no constitutional right to be free of government endorsement of its own laws.”
Chalk one up for the rule of law. At last.