Christopher Hitchens’ New Ten Commandments March 5, 2010

Christopher Hitchens’ New Ten Commandments

Christopher Hitchens offers his take on the Ten Commandments and proposes a set of his own in the latest issue of Vanity Fair:

What emerges from the first review is this: the Ten Commandments were derived from situational ethics. They show every symptom of having been man-made and improvised under pressure. They are addressed to a nomadic tribe whose main economy is primitive agriculture and whose wealth is sometimes counted in people as well as animals. They are also addressed to a group that has been promised the land and flocks of other people: the Amalekites and Midianites and others whom God orders them to kill, rape, enslave, or exterminate. And this, too, is important because at every step of their arduous journey the Israelites are reminded to keep to the laws, not because they are right but just because they will lead them to become conquerors (of, as it happens, almost the only part of the Middle East that has no oil).

And if reading isn’t your thing, there’s also a video version of his article:

Not a bad list. Is he missing anything?

In any case, his version is nowhere as awesome as George Carlin‘s.

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  • An interesting perspective for sure. I can’t say I am entirely comfortable with Hitchens new version, some of them just don’t sit quite right.

  • Vas

    #3 – “Despise those who use violence or the threat of it in sexual relations”

    Why must we despise those who use violence in sexual relationships? Are all practitioners of BDSM to be despised? Are all acts of violence in a sexual relationship to be universally despised with no regard to consent of the individuals involved in the act? How can this stance coexist with “Do not condemn people for their inborn nature”?

    As to Falterer’s quote,

    “Why sexual?
    Because violence (that is, physical force intended to damage someone) only enters sex for the purpose of robbing another of their freedom to deny you what is not rightfully yours to take.”

    I and a great many others vehemently disagree with this claim, in particular the use of the word “only”, perhaps the use of the word “sometimes” rather than “only” would remove my objection to the statement. Let’s remember that “damage” is a term that is measured by degree, bruising is indeed damage and yet a very common of outcome consensual sexual violence. The ,(common) term “trophy bruises” exists for a reason and that reason has nothing to do with being robbed of ones’ freedom. Perhaps some may find such forms of recreational sexual activities objectionable, however this is scant reason to include them on a list of prohibitive commandments.
    I could go on in the same vein as to #2, the bit about not even thinking about people as property, as is common in many D/s relationships. People can think whatever they wish, if some “gimp” wishes to think of himself as the property of some “Master” then I deny Mr. Hitchens’ right to disallow this behavior.

    As to the cell phone bit, I guess Mr. Hitchens has no idea how unimportant his being annoyed by others’ conversations is to anyone or how unconcerned with his personal comfort the rest of us are. Get over it, the future is now, just because that annoys you don’t expect the rest of us to step into the past so you can feel less annoyed. Really how can we take you seriously when you insert a bit of a joke into your list.
    Commandment 11 – Comb your hair before appearing on camera. See… lame jokes do not contribute to the discourse, to the contrary they distract from important issues. At a minimum if you must jest keep to commandment 12 – If a joke is not funny don’t tell it.
    This list is half baked and not just for what is not on it, but for what is as well.

  • Skreeran

    I was with you all the way until New Commandment #3.

    So if I like rough sex, I’m to be despised? That doesn’t seem fair. What I do with the consent of my wife or girlfriend should be between me and her, no commandments attached.

    I think what you mean is “Do not rape,” but just as the Bible’s Ten Commandments are often misinterpreted, this one would be just as unclear.

  • Pseudonym

    This is surprisingly good, considering that it’s Hitchens. I’m impressed.

  • “If I were to speak your kind of language, I would say that man’s only moral commandment is: Thou shalt think. But a “moral commandment” is a contradiction in terms. The moral is the chosen, not the forced; the understood, not the obeyed. The moral is the rational, and reason accepts no commandments.

    My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason—Purpose—Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge—Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve—Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: is worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man’s virtues, and all his virtues pertain to the relation of existence and consciousness: rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness, pride.”

    Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged,” 1957.

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