"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 24 June 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.



God's post-Columbine media

bounce has opened the door

for enterprising believers.

Congressman Robert

Aderholt (R-Alabama)

sponsored a stealth rider to a

"juvenile justice bill,"

allowing the Ten Commandments to

be posted in public schools. The

measure was heartily supported

by the National Council on Bible

Curriculum in Public Schools. We

figured the organization's legal

counsel, John Eidsmoe, would

make a fine subject for one of

our "funny" interviews. But God

is not mocked. In the same

way that the Ten Commandments

bill blew through

the God forsaken competition

(passing by 248 to 180), our

interviewer was easily outfoxed

by the wily lawgiver:


One of the arguments in favor of
this bill was that if the Ten
Commandments had been hanging at
Columbine High, the shootings never
would have happened. Was the
problem that Dylan Klebold and Eric
Harris were worshipping idols?

I don't know that I want to be
quoted on that. [Off-the-record
references to various
public-record reports.] I can't
confirm any of that or speak
with any authority on that.

Do you think this would have
prevented the tragedy?

All I can say is that it might
have made a difference. And
Congressman Aderholt himself has
said that this is not a panacea,
but at least teaching people
that there are absolute
standards of right and wrong —
and respect for human life
is one of the most basic of
those — is a step in the
right direction.

We used to make these "hand
turkeys" at Thanksgiving, where
you'd trace your hand and make a
turkey out of the tracing.
Technically, that's a violation
of the commandment that says you
can't make an image of anything
that is in the Heaven above or
the earth below. Would that be
illegal under the Ten

There are a number of ways to
interpret that commandment. One
is that it prohibits you from
making a graven image of God
himself. The other is that
you're prohibited from
worshipping it.

So if the class continues to
make images, and one kid sees
that the Commandments are being
violated, and his anger waxes
hot, and he breaks the tablets,
should he be suspended?

I would say so, yes. Any kind of
vandalism is a basis for
disciplinary action. I'm not
going to tell the school what
kind of action it should take,
but one of the things we have to
learn, living in a diverse
society, is that we have to have
some respect for things we may
not approve of. I see things all
the time in school that I don't
approve of, but that doesn't
give me the right to go in and
break them.

Even if Moses did?

Well, Moses had a special
dispensation from God that I
don't think I've been given. If
I walk into the science lab and
see an exhibit — let's say,
a plaster model of transitional
fossils that show an
evolutionary projection from
apes to man — I would
personally disagree with them,
but if I went in and broke them
up, I think I should be charged

What do you think is a more
serious problem in schools —
drugs or the coveting of

Well, I think there can be a
relation between them. Anytime
you're coveting something that
you're not supposed to have,
that can lead to trouble. Now on
drugs, you're probably going to
make the point that drugs are
not specifically prohibited
in scripture, but I think
the commandments against
drunkenness are broad enough
to include any kind of
mind-altering substance.

That's not one of the Ten,

No, it's not one of the Ten, but
it is covered in other parts of

Speaking of the other parts of
scripture, right after the Ten
Commandments, in Exodus 21
and 22, there are some laws,
like the one that says you're
not allowed to suffer a witch
to live, which if I were one of
those "Wiccan" kids, I'd be
pretty concerned about.

Well, there's a question about
whether they are witches. Most
of the neo-pagans would say the
classic definition of a witch
doesn't fit them. Now again,
with a witch it depends on what
kinds of things they're doing.
If they're engaging in some
kinds of Satanic activities that
are harmful to others, that
would be the basis for some
action to be taken. Otherwise,

I've got time for one or two
more questions.

OK, if one kid's ox pushes
another kid's maidservant or
manservant, then the ox would
have to be stoned. Would the
kids need a permit for that?

I'd have to look at that one and
think how to apply that. Part of
the idea there was that the ox
was what they considered
forfeited property. Today, if
you're arrested for drugs in
your car, your car is forfeited
to the government on the same
basis. And the early English law
was based on those passages.

Then why don't the police have
to destroy your car? The way it
works now, they seize your car
and then resell it for a tidy

Personally, I don't like the
idea of civil forfeiture. To me,
it mixes the civil purposes of
the law with the criminal
purposes. You are punishing the
person without giving the person
the protection that criminal law
provides. For our legal system,
I wouldn't even apply the civil
forfeiture element. Many of my
students strongly disagree with
me on that. The courts also
disagree with me, or at least say
that it doesn't violate the
Constitution. And I have to
admit reluctantly that they're
probably right: That wasn't what
the Eighth Amendment was
designed to prohibit.

In supporting the Ten
Commandments bill, you've said
that these rules are as relevant
to us as they were to Moses'
Hebrew "republic." Did they
have a direct vote in that
republic? Or was it an
electoral college?

There's an interesting book that
would probably give you an
answer on that. It's called
Commentaries on the Law of the
Ancient Hebrews
by E. C. Wines.
He divides the book into two
sections: the republic and the
monarchy. At the time Moses
brought down the commandments,
Hebrew society was a republic.
It was a confederation of 12
tribes, and the scripture said
there was "no king of Israel but
God Himself." And the tribes had
a decentralized system within
each tribe, under judges who
probably had more authority than
we think of judges having now.
The kings came later, about 1050
BC, but the judges ruled with
some form of consent of the
governed. It might be a case
where David was running for king
and could get the rural vote
because he was a shepherd, and
maybe they liked his foreign
. We just don't know.

How should Sikhs keep the
Sabbath holy?

I'm not sure when the Sabbath
day is for Sikhs. I have books
on the Sikhs that I read about
15 years ago, but I don't
remember too much about them
actually.... I think God is more
concerned that we do worship
Him and how we worship Him
than when.



Nothing will temper your

paranoia about media

concentration faster than a

glimpse at the Masters of the

Universe in action. Over the

past few weeks, news that Suck's

corporate tops were offering a

Suck-brand browser might have

made it seem that we had finally

traded our editorial independence

for some Disneyesque synergy

of content, promotion, and

tie-in products. The browser

is part of NeoPlanet's

customizable portal thingy,

which boasts a variety of

removable skins, allowing you to

brand your Web-browsing

experience. With more than 9,800

downloads so far, the Suck

browser has proved to be one of

the more popular of these skins,

edging out the browsers of our

partners in the Lycos Network

and beating the crap out of both

Santa Claus and St. Patrick. But

if you think Suck got maximum

leverage out of the

cross-branding, guess again.

As it happens, we learned

about the Suck browser the

same way we get all our

news — we read about it in

Salon. In fact, it appears the

nearly 10,000 people who liked

the browser were people who

don't actually read Suck but

just like the pictures

(admittedly, a demographic that

includes most of Suck's actual

readers). Since we also found

the Suck Skin doesn't include a

link back to us, the upshot is

that Suck got exactly bupkes out

of the deal. But there's still

time for you to show your

colors. Hop right over to

NeoPlanet, download your

browser, and make Suck something

you will carry with you

throughout your life. We

should have our recipe for the

Suck Happy Meal completed any

day now.


[A rare look at the mating cycles of bike messengers.]

Starbucks' latest effort to

become a magazine distributor —

previous outings have

included point-of-purchase

arrangements with the paper

version of Slate and maybe a

cross-sales agreement with

Playguy, we're not sure — is

Joe, a general interest

quarterly featuring

tried-and-true names like Luc

Sante, Douglas Coupland, and

strenuous funnyman Mark Leyner

(whom several Suck readers

incorrectly named as the author

of our Tuesday issue). It would

be pleasant to poke fun at this

coffee-zine business plan, but

we see some real promise in it.

The once-great Esquire, after

all, started out as a specialty

rag sold exclusively in

haberdasheries, and Big Green's

1,800 stores would seem a more

logical place for magazine sales

than, say, a bookstore. A first

glance (we didn't actually read

it) indicates that Joe is a

fairly readable birdcage liner,

despite instances of

preciousness ("I call my

Catholic friend Tom to tell him

that for the first time in my

life I'm finding myself talking

to God"), an Absolut-style,

one-page story that felt like a

gyp because it wasn't

advertising anything, and an

immodest echo of the book of

Genesis in Managing Editor Scott

Mowbray's editor's note ("... if

you have ever made something

complicated ... and stood back

at the end to eye the whole

aspect of the thing and then

thought that it was a good thing

..."). But since we know that

reading Suck's discussions of

other media is about as

appealing to the average reader

as a nice case of heatstroke,

we'd like your help in filling

out our reader-reaction survey

card. If you know how we should

answer the question, "What

would you like to see in future

issues?" of the official magazine

of Starbucks, please let us

know. The best response will

become our official opinion of Joe.


[and it's got Web pages too]

Analyst's alert: We have changed

our recommendation on Salon.com

(SALN) to a "strong buy."

Despite a lackluster opening

day and strong evidence that the

stock's US$10 price is being

supported by underwriter

Hambrecht, we have set a target

price of $10,000 a share,

based on continued blue chip

interest, hopes for a Net stock

recovery, unlimited upside

potential, and a firm belief that

lightning always strikes twice.



Suck's lead time being what it

is, we had to make some tough

decisions in the last few days,

killing not only our incisive,

two-part Lamar Alexander profile

but also our extensive Summer

Solstice coverage: the streaming

video from Salisbury Plain, the

live remotes from the Lapland

Special Olympics, the works.

Why? Because we needed to make

room for service journalism —

news you can use — in the form

of an official set of NBA finals

predictions. We needed to bring

the authority, care, and

expertise we've always put into

our media reporting to a series

of piercingly perceptive

predictions that would make

Jimmy the Greek proud and our

high-rolling readers rich. It

was a noble goal and all the

motivation we required. Well,

that and a well-timed visit from

our favorite beeper-toting

delivery dude, who dropped off a

little Ziplocked bundle of joy

and a Zippo. The result:


"Game 5: The air is thick with

history tonight as the Knicks

and Spurs, two mortal combatants

locked in [illegible], return to

San Antonio's famed Astrodome,

the very site where some 450

years ago, Colonel Sam Houston

made Texas' last stand against

the invading Iroquois Nation.

Will the Spurs live up to the

Colonel's legacy? Only if they

can stop great-great-great-

grandson Allan Houston, now

a rising lonestar for the

Knicks. [Illegible.] It's a

matchup that recalls Knickerbocker

greats Bill Bradley, Wendell

Wilkie, and Chester A. Arthur.

And with San Antonio's beloved

baritone David Robeson in the

penalty box, New York's Marcus

Welby, aka 'The Doctor J,' leads

the Knicks in a third period

power play. Yes, the ironies at

Game 5 just keep piling up, like

so many cars in a multi-car pile

up. It's all on the line

tonight. Final: Spurs 190,

Knicks 142."


But then our know-it-all

"fact-checker" found a couple of

"problems" that our publisher

thought might damage our

"credibility," and so it was

back to the drawing bong. Er,

board. The drawing board. Tune

in for our live team coverage of

Game 5 tomorrow — after these

important messages.

courtesy of the Sucksters

[Purchase the Suck Book here]