Hiram is first attacked and accosted at the south gate of the Temple, and is attacked by a rule. Also, remember that Hiram was attacked and his throat was cut. Albert Pike explains that this cutting of the throat is symbolic of the use of law to punish free speech, and to silence "a vocal minority". We see this all the time across the world, as the use of religious laws can be perverted and made into a weapon to beat people into submission. Pakistan has enacted "Blasphemy Laws" a couple of years ago, which is little more than veiled attempt for the countries majority to continue to oppress and drive out the Christian minority within the country. Being found guilty of "Blasphemy" against Islam in their country results in death (most of the time). This isn't the brazen fronts, but simple ones, like not reading an instruction guide on Islam. These are the type of laws that Pike warned us about, and feared the most happening in America.
Second attack Hiram was struck with a square a metal object that is formed by two rigid pieces of metal at right angles to each other; this is to represent to us the merger of religious and civil power intending to control every facet of our life, in a single word despotism. A corner stone of Scottish Rite Freemasonry is the separation of church and state, and here again all one has to do is look across Southwest Asia where the people are victims of Ulema councils that threaten politicians and coerce them into despotism.
Lastly and the death of Hiram happens because of being hit with the Setting Maul, a blunt instrument of brute force. This is eludes to the use of brute force to squash all intellectual thought, through intimidation and fear. Going back to Pakistan, Shahbaz Bhatti was viciously gunned down in early May of 2011. He was the only Christian member of the Pakistani cabinet and was killed by two Taliban thugs who wanted to silence his movement. The Taliban left pamphlets that read "With the blessing of Allah, the mujahideen will send each of you to hell," This act was decried by Human Rights groups and activists everywhere. A small stabilizing force was removed from a country that is slowly falling into religious chaos.
With all of this written, the biggest theme for the degrees goes to toleration, something as a man and as a brother I struggle with daily. I have lived in countries where the rule of law was oppressive and that freedom of religion was swiftly answered by death. So my judgments of other religions and cultures in my mind are harsh, and I try all I can not to repeat them. I am not some uneducated redneck trying to cause a reaction, I am someone that has experienced the direct actions of these repressive regimes, and am grateful that I no longer have to endure them, while at the same time sad that they are continuing around the world.
I pray often for God to give me grace and forgiveness. I also pray for toleration, the principle theme of these two degrees.