Quotations about   killing

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When a man wantonly destroys one of the works of man we call him Vandal. When he wantonly destroys one of the works of God we call him Sportsman.

Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970) American educator, writer, critic, naturalist
The Great Chain of Life, ch. 9 “Reverence for Life” (1956)
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Often misquoted as "a vandal ... a sportsman."
Added on 30-Sep-21 | Last updated 30-Sep-21
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As Master Bludtharst once put it: “Kill a man today, and all you get are spare parts — but conquer his village, and you get spare parts plus people who can cook your breakfast tomorrow!”

Phil Foglio (b. 1956) American writer, cartoonist
Girl Genius, 22.039 (4 Aug 2021)
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Added on 7-Sep-21 | Last updated 9-Sep-21
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Most air crew take for granted the spurious moral absolution conferred upon those who escape eye contact with the people whom they kill.

Max Hastings
Max Hastings (b. 1945) British journalist and military historian
Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy (2018)
Added on 29-Jun-21 | Last updated 29-Jun-21
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“Those who fought know a secret about themselves, and it is not very nice.” They have experienced secretly and privately their natural human impulse toward sadism and brutality. […] Not merely did I learn to kill with a noose of piano wire put around somebody’s neck from behind, but I learned to enjoy the prospect of killing that way. It’s those things that you learn about yourself that you never forget. You learn that you have much wider dimensions than you had imagined before you had to fight a war. That’s salutary. It’s well to know exactly who you are so you can conduct the rest of your life properly.

Paul Fussell (1924-2012) American cultural and literary historian, author, academic
“The Initial Shock,” Interview by Sheldon Hackney, Humanities (Nov/Dec 1996)
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Added on 23-Jun-21 | Last updated 23-Jun-21
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And so I say that for brutality and infamy there is no one to equal a woman who can contemplate such deeds. Who else could conceive so hideous a crime as her deliberate butchery of her husband and her lord?

[ὣς οὐκ αἰνότερον καὶ κύντερον ἄλλο γυναικός,
ἥ τις δὴ τοιαῦτα μετὰ φρεσὶν ἔργα βάληται:
οἷον δὴ καὶ κείνη ἐμήσατο ἔργον ἀεικές,
κουριδίῳ τεύξασα πόσει φόνον.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Odyssey [Ὀδύσσεια], Book 11, l. 427ff (11.427) [Agamemnon] (c. 700 BC) [tr. Rieu (1946)]
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Agamemnon, in the Underworld, telling Odysseus of his betrayal by Clytemnestra. Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Nothing so heap’d is with impieties,
As such a woman that would kill her spouse
That married her a maid.
[tr. Chapman (1616)]

Nothing so cruel as a woman yet
Did nature e’er produce; a thought so ill
In any other breast did never sit,
As her own loving husband’s blood to spill.
[tr. Hobbes (1675), l. 409ff]

O woman, woman, when to ill thy mind
Is bent, all hell contains no fouler fiend:
And such was mine! who basely plunged her sword
Through the fond bosom where she reign'd adored!
[tr. Pope (1725)]

So that the thing breathes not, ruthless and fell
As woman once resolv’d on such a deed
Detestable, as my base wife contrived,
The murther of the husband of her youth.
[tr. Cowper (1792), l. 519ff]

Since nought exists more horrible and bold
Than evil in the breast of womankind,
When she to her own lust herself hath sold,
Even as this fell monster in her mind
Against the husband of her youth designed
Black murder.
[tr. Worsley (1861), st. 60]

Thus there is nought more horrible and shameless,
Than woman, who such deeds as these could think on!
Like as she compassed this unseemly deed --
Blood -- murder 'gainst the husband of her youth!
[tr. Bigge-Wither (1869)]

Nought can more fearful be --
Nought more revolting in all shamelessness
Than Woman of this stamp, who to her heart
Such schemes could lay: For what a loathsome act
Was that which she design'd by bloody death
The husband to destroy, whom in her youth
She had in lawful wedlock made her vow!
[tr. Musgrave (1869), l. 659ff]

So surely is there nought more terrible and shameless than a woman who imagines such evil in her heart, even as she too planned a foul deed, fashioning death for her wedded lord.
[tr. Butcher/Lang (1879)]

Nought more shameless or more fearful than a woman may ye find
When she at last conceiveth such deeds within her mind.
E'en such a deed so unseemly as she imagined for me,
To murder her wedded husband!
[tr. Morris (1887), l. 427ff]

Ah, what can be more horrible and brutish than a woman when she admits into her thoughts such deeds as these! And what a shameless deed she plotted to bring about the murder of the husband of her youth!
[tr. Palmer (1891)]

For there is nothing in this world so cruel and so shameless as a woman when she has fallen into such guilt as hers was. Fancy murdering her own husband!
[tr. Butler (1898)]

So true is it that there is nothing more dread or more shameless than a woman who puts into her heart such deeds, even as she too devised a monstrous thing, contriving death for her wedded husband.
[tr. Murray (1919)]

I tell you, there is nought more awful and inhuman than a woman who can fondle in her heart crimes so foul as this conception of my wife's to murder the husband of her youth.
[tr. Lawrence (1932)]

So there is nothing more deadly or more vile than a woman
who stores her mind with acts that are of such sort, as this one
did when she thought of this act of dishonor, and plotted
the murder of her lawful husband.
[tr. Lattimore (1965)]

So,
there’s nothing more deadly, bestial than a woman
set on works like these -- what a monstrous thing
she plotted, slaughtered her own lawful husband!
[tr. Fagles (1996)]

Nothing
Is more grim or more shameless than a woman
Who sets her mind on such an unspeakable act
As killing her own husband.
[tr. Lombardo (2000), l. 443ff]

So there is nothing at all more dreadful or vile than a woman who in the thought of her heart meditates this kind of misdoing like that woman who craftily plotted a deed so indecent causing the death of the husband she wedded.
[tr. Merrill (2002)]

There is nothing more terrible, nor anything more shameless, than a woman who can plan deeds like this in her heart, deeds like this ugly crime that Clytemnestra plotted: the murder of her lawfully wedded husband.
[tr. Verity (2016)]

There's nothing more frightful or shameless than a woman who conceives the idea of such misdeeds in her heart, like the horrifying act that this woman planned, contriving her own wedded husband's murder.
[tr. Green (2018)]

The truth is, there’s nothing more disgusting,
more disgraceful, than a woman whose heart
is set on deeds like this -- the way she planned
the shameless act, to arrange the murder
of the man she married.
[tr. Johnston (2019), l. 539ff]

Added on 16-Jun-21 | Last updated 15-Dec-21
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When I talk about the death penalty to people, there are a zillion pragmatic arguments to make that the death penalty is more expensive, that you could make mistakes with the death penalty. I try to never use them, because I believe that as soon as I use them, I have dropped what matters to me. Because those arguments are disingenuous. To say, “What if we put an innocent person to death?” I am then telling you that if you can promise me we won’t put any innocent people to death that I’m somehow OK with that, and I’m fucking not. Killing people is wrong. Government shouldn’t fucking do it. End of story.

Penn Jillette (b. 1955) American stage magician, actor, musician, author
Interview by Kahterine Mangu-Ward, Reason (Jan 2017)
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Added on 10-Jun-21 | Last updated 10-Jun-21
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Something Vimes had learned as a young guard drifted up from memory. If you have to look along the shaft of an arrow from the wrong end, if a man has you entirely at his mercy, then hope like hell that man is an evil man. Because the evil like power, power over people, and they want to see you in fear. They want you to know you’re going to die. So they’ll talk. They’ll gloat.

They’ll watch you squirm. They’ll put off the moment of murder like another man will put off a good cigar.

So hope like hell your captor is an evil man. A good man will kill you with hardly a word.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Men at Arms (1993)
Added on 27-Apr-21 | Last updated 27-Apr-21
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I don’t want to kill anybody. I am passionately opposed to killing, but I’m even more passionately fond of freedom.

Edward Teller (1908-2003) Hungarian-American theoretical physicist
“Fallout and Disarmament: A Debate Between Linus Pauling and Edward Teller,” KQED-TV, San Francisco (20 Feb 1958)
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Added on 23-Feb-21 | Last updated 23-Feb-21
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The greatest bloodshed? The most murders? I would say two things: sincere love and a sincere devotion to liberty. … If you kill out of love or for the perfect utopia, you never stop killing because human nature is always imperfect.

Peter Viereck (1916-2006) American poet, historian, academic
“Clio is No Cleo: The Messiness of History,” lecture, Mt. Holyoke College (1997)
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Reprinted in Society (Mar 2004) and collected in Strict Wildness (2008).
Added on 3-Feb-21 | Last updated 4-Feb-21
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For laws are silent when arms are raised.

[Silent enim leges inter arma.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Pro Milone, ch. 4, sec. 11 [tr. Yonge (1891)]
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In context, Cicero is asserting that self-defense is a valid defense for killing, even though that principle was not written into Roman law. It has been extended in legal terms to times of war being exempt from normal laws regarding killing.

Alt. trans.:
  • "For laws are silent among arms."
  • "In a time of war, the law falls silent."
  • "Laws are silent in time of war."
  • "The laws are silent in warfare."
  • "For among arms, the laws fall mute."
  • "The power of law is suspended during war."
Original Latin.
Added on 28-Sep-20 | Last updated 28-Sep-20
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And just as the law in civilized countries assumes that the voice of conscience tells everybody, “Thou shalt not kill,” even though man’s natural desires and inclinations may at times be murderous, so the law of Hitler’s land demanded that the voice of conscience tell everybody: “Thou shalt kill,” although the organizers of the massacres knew full well that murder is against the normal desires and inclinations of most people. Evil in the Third Reich had lost the quality by which most people recognize it — the quality of temptation.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, ch. 8 (1963)
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Added on 30-Jun-20 | Last updated 30-Jun-20
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Don’t flang him off the bluff, boys. Tain’t christian.

Cormac McCarthy (b. 1933) American novelist, playwright, screenwriter
Outer Dark (1968)
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Added on 27-Jan-20 | Last updated 27-Jan-20
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I would not enter on my list of friends,
(Though graced with polish’d manners and fine sense,
Yet wanting sensibility) the man
Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.

William Cowper (1731-1800) English poet
“Winter Walk at Noon,” l. 560ff, The Task, Book 6 (1785)
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Added on 3-Aug-18 | Last updated 3-Aug-18
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In our brief national history, we have shot four of our presidents, worried five of them to death, impeached one and hounded another out of office. And when all else fails, we hold an election and assassinate their characters.

P. J. O'Rourke (b. 1947) American humorist, editor
Parliament of Whores, “The President” (1991)
Added on 8-Aug-16 | Last updated 8-Aug-16
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You’re supposed to look at that figure of Christ on the cross and think, “How could a man suffer like that and forgive?” Not, “Romans are pussies — he still has his eyes.”

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
Real Time with Bill Maher, “New Rules” (13 May 2011)

Discussing Christians who support torturing terrorists.
Added on 1-Jun-16 | Last updated 1-Jun-16
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It would repel me less to be a hangman than a soldier, because the one is obliged to put to death only criminals sentenced by the law, but the other kills honest men who like himself bathe in innocent blood at the bidding of some superior.

George Santayana (1863-1952) Spanish-American poet and philosopher [Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruíz de Santayana y Borrás]
Persons and Places, entry, c. 1880 (1944)
Added on 14-Apr-16 | Last updated 14-Apr-16
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WILL MUNNY: It’s a helluva thing killing a man. You take away all he’s got, and all he’s ever gonna have.

SCHOFIELD KID: Well, I guess they had it coming.

WILL MUNNY: We all have it coming, kid.

David Peoples (b. 1940) American screenwriter
Unforgiven (film) (1992)

Will Munny was played by Clint Eastwood.
Added on 14-Dec-15 | Last updated 14-Dec-15
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Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9; Yerushalmi Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 37a
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Alt. trans.: "Whoever destroys a single life is as guilty as though he had destroyed the entire world; and whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world."
Added on 1-Sep-15 | Last updated 20-Dec-19
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ZOE: Preacher, don’t the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killin’?

BOOK: Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.

No picture available
Cheryl Cain (contemp.) American television screenwriter
Firefly, 1×10 “War Stories” (6 Dec 2002)
Added on 18-Jun-15 | Last updated 18-Jun-15
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There are few situations in life that cannot be honourably settled, and without loss of time, either by suicide, a bag of gold, or by thrusting a despised antagonist over the edge of a precipice upon a dark night.

Ernest Bramah (1868-1942) English author [Ernest Brammah Smith]
“The Story of Hien and the Chief Examiner,” Kai Lung’s Golden Hours (1922)
Added on 22-Apr-15 | Last updated 22-Apr-15
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Shoot straight you bastards. Don’t make a mess of it.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Harry “Breaker” Morant, to the firing squad (27 Feb 1902)
Added on 20-Aug-14 | Last updated 20-Aug-14
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“So?” Bob said. “Hat up, go kill her. Problem solved.”
“Bob,” I said. “You can’t just go around killing people.”
“I know. That’s why you should do it.”
“No, no. I can’t go around killing people, either.”

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Grave Peril (2001)
Added on 19-Aug-14 | Last updated 19-Aug-14
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One does not learn how to die by killing others.

François-René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) French writer, politican, diplomat
Memoirs from Beyond the Grave [Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe], Book 8, ch. 4 (1848-1850) [tr. Kline]
Added on 3-Jun-14 | Last updated 11-Aug-14
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Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book 4, ch. 1 “The Taming of Sméagol” (1954)
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Frodo recounting to Sam the words of Gandalf (approximately) in The Fellowship of the Ring.
Added on 26-Jul-11 | Last updated 10-Feb-22
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Once killing starts, it is difficult to draw the line.

Tacitus (c.56-c.120) Roman historian, orator, politician [Publius or Gaius Cornelius Tacitus]
Histories, Book I, ch. 39 (AD 100-110)
Added on 19-Mar-10 | Last updated 4-May-15
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As an atheist, I believe that all life is unspeakably precious, because it’s only here for a brief moment, a flare against the dark, and then it’s gone forever. No afterlives, no second chances, no backsies. So there can be nothing crueler than the abuse, destruction or wanton taking of a life. It is a crime no less than burning the Mona Lisa, for there is always just one of each.

So I cannot forgive. Which makes the notion of writing a character who CAN forgive momentarily attractive … because it allows me to explore in great detail something of which I am utterly incapable.

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5, “JMS on Compuserve: Gesthemane Questions” (4 Dec 1995)
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Added on 5-Feb-10 | Last updated 17-Jul-20
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But if survival calls for the bearing of arms, bear them, you must. As we all have. Keep in mind only this, that province of combat is not the end, it is simply the means. And the most essential part of the challenge is for you to find another means that does not come with the killing of your fellow-man.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
Commencement Speech, Binghamton Central High School, Binghamton, New York (28 Jan 1968)
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Sometimes paraphrased:

If survival calls for the bearing of arms, bear them you must. But the most important part of the challenge is for you to find another means that does not come with the killing of your fellow man.
Added on 8-Jul-08 | Last updated 21-Apr-22
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Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 2 “The Shadow of the Past” [Gandalf] (1954)
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Frodo later recounts these words (approximately) to Sam in The Two Towers.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Feb-22
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I thoroughly disapprove of duels. I consider them unwise, and I know they are dangerous. Also, sinful. If a man should challenge me now, I would got to that man and take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet, retired spot, and kill him.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1, 1864 (2010)
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Seen paraphrased: "I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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