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Kurt Tucholsky

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The cruelty of most people is lack of imagination, their brutality is ignorance.

 
Kurt Tucholsky

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Cruelty to animals is one of the most significant vices of a low and ignoble people. Wherever one notices them, they constitute a sure sign of ignorance and brutality which cannot be painted over even by all the evidence of wealth and luxury. Cruelty to animals cannot exist together with true education and true learning.

 
Alexander von Humboldt
 

I do not believe in any afterlife any more than the prophets did, but I don't mind living in a world in which people have different beliefs. Diversity helps to prevent stagnation and smugness; and a teacher should acquaint his students with diversity and prize careful criticism far above agreement. His noblest duty is to lead others to think for themselves.
Oddly, millions believe that lack of belief in God, Christ, and Hell leads to inhumanity and cruelty, while those who have these beliefs have a monopoly on charity — and that people like myself will pay for their lack of belief by suffering in all eternity. I do not believe that anybody will suffer after death nor do I wish it.

 
Walter (philosopher) Kaufmann
 

Our common speech contains numberless verbs with which to describe the infliction of violence or cruelty or brutality on others. It only really contains one common verb that describes the effect of violence or cruelty or brutality on those who, rather than suffering from it, inflict it. That verb is the verb to brutalize. A slaveholder visits servitude on his slaves, lashes them, degrades them, exploits them, and maltreats them. In the process, he himself becomes brutalized. This is a simple distinction to understand and an easy one to observe. In the recent past, idle usage has threatened to erode it. Last week was an especially bad one for those who think the difference worth preserving...Col. Muammar Qaddafi's conduct [killing his protesters] is far worse than merely brutal—it is homicidal and sadistic...and even if a headline can't convey all that, it can at least try to capture some of it. Observe, then, what happens when the term is misapplied. The error first robs the language of a useful expression and then ends up by gravely understating the revolting reality it seeks to describe...Far from being brutalized by four decades of domination by a theatrical madman, the Libyan people appear fairly determined not to sink to his level and to be done with him and his horrible kin. They also seem, at the time of writing, to want this achievement to represent their own unaided effort. Admirable as this is, it doesn't excuse us from responsibility. The wealth that Qaddafi is squandering is the by-product of decades of collusion with foreign contractors. The weapons that he is employing against civilians were not made in Libya; they were sold to him by sophisticated nations.

 
Christopher Hitchens
 

At the movies, we are gradually being conditioned to accept violence as a sensual pleasure. The directors used to say they were showing us its real face and how ugly it was in order to sensitize us to its horrors. You don't have to be very keen to see that they are now in fact desensitizing us. They are saying that everyone is brutal, and the heroes must be as brutal as the villains or they turn into fools. There seems to be an assumption that if you're offended by movie brutality, you are somehow playing into the hands of the people who want censorship. But this would deny those of us who don't believe in censorship the use of the only counterbalance: the freedom of the press to say that there's anything conceivably damaging in these films — the freedom to analyze their implications. If we don't use this critical freedom, we are implicitly saying that no brutality is too much for us — that only squares and people who believe in censorship are concerned with brutality. Actually, those who believe in censorship are primarily concerned with sex, and they generally worry about violence only when it's eroticized. This means that practically no one raises the issue of the possible cumulative effects of movie brutality. Yet surely, when night after night atrocities are served up to us as entertainment, it's worth some anxiety. We become clockwork oranges if we accept all this pop culture without asking what's in it. How can people go on talking about the dazzling brilliance of movies and not notice that the directors are sucking up to the thugs in the audience?

 
Pauline Kael
 

The late Leonid Krasin ... was the first, if I am not mistaken, to call Stalin an "Asiatic". In saying that, he had in mind no problematical racial attributes, but rather that blending of grit, shrewdness, craftiness and cruelty which has been considered characteristic of the statesmen of Asia. Bukharin subsequently simplified the appellation, calling Stalin "Genghis Khan", manifestly in order to draw attention to his cruelty, which has developed into brutality. Stalin himself, in conversation with a Japanese journalist, once called himself an "Asiatic", not in the old, but rather in the new sense of the word: with that personal allusion he wished to hint at the existence of common interests between the USSR and Japan as against the imperialistic West.

 
Joseph Stalin
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