Thou shalt not kill

The rules serve two basic functions: They program the individual to obey authority and curb unwanted expressions of self -centeredness. We say “curb” purposefully , as absolute rules do not and cannot really eliminate a given activity; rather they operate to keep behaviors within a tolerable spectrum of deviance. One rule from the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not kill,” is a case in point. Not only has it not stopped killing, but it is our thesis that it was never really meant to. There is a seeming contradiction between the taboo against killing and actual behavior, because fundamentalists as a group (there are exceptions) have often favored the death penalty and have been more “hawkish” when dealing with enemies. To say “If you break the rule against killing , we’ll kill you” is inconsistent only at the verbal level. It is totally consistent with authoritarian agendas of doing whatever is necessary to ensure the rules are obeyed.1

  1. Kramer, Joel; Alstad, Diana (2012-06-19). The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power (p. 168). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition. []
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