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    Killing’s partner

    In the Ten Commandments there is a law against killing. Killing in that sense is destroying a life.

    After the Holocaust I heard a rabbi say, “Life has become so cynically cheap that its mass destruction is hardly deplored”.

    If that rabbi were still alive he would add that killing has become so cynically commonplace that it is even perpetrated by those who claim to belong to religions of peace. Nothing can pardon the acts of killing that surround us.

    But killing is not the only fearful deed that characterises our generation. Its partner is overkill, saying things in an extreme, aggressive, intolerant manner than removes the dignity, legitimacy, and right to life of people and philosophies that hold a different view.

    Verbal overkill is a menace to civilisation. No-one is safe. If they don’t let you have your opinions and beliefs, tomorrow they won’t let you live.

    Emil Fackenheim said that the first stage is “You cannot live amongst us”; the next stage is “You cannot live”.

    The preface to “Thou shalt not kill” is “Thou shalt not overkill”.

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