Eschewing irony, Mamet prefers his precepts to be literal and traditional. In case by any chance we haven't read it before, he twice offers Rabbi Hillel's definition of the golden rule and the essence of Torah: "What is hateful to thee, do not do to thy neighbor." As with Hayek's imperative of choice, the apparent obviousness of this does not entirely redeem it from contradiction. To Colonel Qaddafi and Charles Manson and Bernard Madoff, I want things to happen that would be hateful to me. Of what use is a principle that is only as good as the person uttering it?
It seems to me that Mr. Hitchens is missing the point. Had Gadhafi, Manson, and Madoff followed Hillel's injunction, they wouldn't have murdered or committed fraud, because they wouldn't have wanted to be murdered or to have been defrauded themselves. As for the punishment that Mr. Hitchens apparently desires to inflict on the evil trio, it's one thing to do this through a system of justice, another thing to do it spontaneously to a neighbor. Those punishments would be hateful if inflicted on Mr. Hitchens because, presumably, Mr. Hitchens is innocent of murder or fraud. So it's not really a contradiction.
Maybe I'm missing something. Or maybe next week the Times editors will simplify matters by eliminating poor Mr. Mamet's book as the vehicle and by just going ahead and assigning Mr. Hitchens to write a negative review of the Torah.