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Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon

Bill D 16 Dec 11 - 10:39 AM
John MacKenzie 16 Dec 11 - 10:50 AM
theleveller 16 Dec 11 - 11:00 AM
Stilly River Sage 16 Dec 11 - 11:02 AM
Desert Dancer 16 Dec 11 - 11:04 AM
Bill D 16 Dec 11 - 11:08 AM
Arthur_itus 16 Dec 11 - 11:19 AM
Desert Dancer 16 Dec 11 - 11:21 AM
theleveller 16 Dec 11 - 12:04 PM
theleveller 16 Dec 11 - 12:19 PM
GUEST 16 Dec 11 - 12:21 PM
Desert Dancer 16 Dec 11 - 01:00 PM
bobad 16 Dec 11 - 02:13 PM
Desert Dancer 16 Dec 11 - 02:17 PM
GUEST,999 16 Dec 11 - 02:28 PM
GUEST,Bluesman 16 Dec 11 - 02:44 PM
gnu 16 Dec 11 - 02:47 PM
John MacKenzie 16 Dec 11 - 02:58 PM
pdq 16 Dec 11 - 03:05 PM
Stringsinger 16 Dec 11 - 03:19 PM
Donuel 16 Dec 11 - 03:23 PM
Paul Burke 16 Dec 11 - 07:08 PM
MarkS 16 Dec 11 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,josepp 16 Dec 11 - 07:25 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 16 Dec 11 - 07:54 PM
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Jack the Sailor 17 Dec 11 - 12:06 AM
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Herga Kitty 17 Dec 11 - 06:30 AM
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Big Al Whittle 17 Dec 11 - 07:43 AM
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Max Johnson 17 Dec 11 - 11:23 AM
Max Johnson 17 Dec 11 - 11:25 AM
Jack the Sailor 17 Dec 11 - 12:14 PM
pdq 17 Dec 11 - 12:47 PM
Max Johnson 17 Dec 11 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,Steaming' Willie 17 Dec 11 - 02:59 PM
Dave the Gnome 17 Dec 11 - 03:16 PM
Bat Goddess 18 Dec 11 - 11:05 AM
Joe_F 18 Dec 11 - 01:53 PM
GUEST,josepp 18 Dec 11 - 03:31 PM
Bill D 18 Dec 11 - 03:43 PM
GUEST,josepp 18 Dec 11 - 09:04 PM
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Peter K (Fionn) 19 Dec 11 - 01:59 PM
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GUEST,josepp 19 Dec 11 - 08:39 PM
Bill D 19 Dec 11 - 10:15 PM
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Jack the Sailor 20 Dec 11 - 06:09 AM
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Subject: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 10:39 AM

Christopher Hitchens, militant pundit, dies at 62


"There will never be another like Christopher. A man of ferocious intellect, who was as vibrant on the page as he was at the bar," said Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. "Those who read him felt they knew him, and those who knew him were profoundly fortunate souls."

He had enjoyed his drink (enough to "to kill or stun the average mule") and cigarettes, until he announced in June 2010 that he was being treated for cancer of the esophagus.

He was a most engaged, prolific and public intellectual who wrote numerous books, was a frequent television commentator and a contributor to Vanity Fair, Slate and other publications. He became a popular author in 2007 thanks to "God Is Not Great," a manifesto for atheists.

"Christopher Hitchens was everything a great essayist should be: infuriating, brilliant, highly provocative and yet intensely serious," said Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. "I worked as an intern for him years ago. My job was to fact check his articles. Since he had a photographic memory and an encyclopedic mind, it was the easiest job I've ever done."


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Subject: Obit: Christopher Hitchens
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 10:50 AM

"Christopher Hitchens was a wit, a charmer and a troublemaker, and to those who knew him well, he was a gift from, dare I say, God,"
Graydon Carter, Vanity Fayre.

What an epitaph that makes. I'd be really proud to have that said of me post mortem.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: theleveller
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 11:00 AM

Sad loss - a great intellect and a true original.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 11:02 AM

National Public Radio ran a story about him this morning.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 11:04 AM

Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011, Polemicist Who Slashed All, Freely, With Wit

I did not follow him closely enough to get past his obsessive combativeness.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 11:08 AM

Oh, he could be maddening even to those who basically agreed with him on most things. He considered his role to be "stirring things up" rather than gently converting with careful reason.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Arthur_itus
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 11:19 AM

Was he a mudcatter Bill?


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 11:21 AM

I find polemics problematic. I am happy to see from the outpouring from those who knew him personally that he could be compassionate, as well as passionate, and non-combative in friendship in contrast to his public persona.

Andrew Sullivan's favorite memory of Hitch (page with video).

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: theleveller
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 12:04 PM

I find polemicists refreshing so long as they make their points with wit and erudition. Hitchens could be both infuriating and inspiring - depending on whether you agreed with his position or not (for me, it was a mixture of both). He was, however, never mealy-mouthed and that, in my opinion, makes him admirable.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: theleveller
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 12:19 PM

"Was he a mudcatter Bill?"

That's what I wondered when I read: "only an open conflict of ideas and principles can produce any clarity."


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 12:21 PM

Also an admirer of Phil Ochs, contributer to "Phil Ochs - There But for Fortune".

Sad loss, RIP.

Rog


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 01:00 PM

Obituary in the Guardian


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: bobad
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 02:13 PM

I like this line about him taken from a remembrance on Huffington Post:

"When he heard that another friend, a professor, had a habit of seducing female students in his writing seminars, he shook his head pityingly. "It's not worth it. Afterward, you have to read their short stories."


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 02:17 PM

Slate roundup of tributes

Highlighted Slate columns


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST,999
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 02:28 PM

Would it be possible to remove the word 'curmudgeon' from the title? I ask because I initially thought it referred to Mudcat's Curmudgeon.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST,Bluesman
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 02:44 PM

He said it as he saw it.No doubt the mods here would have deleted every one of his posts here. A sound guy.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: gnu
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 02:47 PM

PLEASE change the title of this thread and delete "curmudgeon" ASAP!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 02:58 PM

If you can't tell the difference between Curmudgeon and curmudgeon. Then there's no hope for either of you.
Don't forget it's a proper word, not just a Mudcatter's handle!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: pdq
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 03:05 PM

This man was a brilliant intellectual and deserves some respect.

Calling him a "curmudgeon", "militant" and "pundit" show a great deal about the character of the initial poster.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Stringsinger
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 03:19 PM

I must confess a guilty pleasure reading "God is not great". His attitude, however, was not helpful to FreeThinkers because he was so combative. He was also a warmonger in my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Donuel
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 03:23 PM

He had more soul than the entire Vatican to the 10th.

warmonger compared to what. Cheney? I think not.


btw I have a garden gnome with the face of Dick Cheney.
We call it Lawn Cheney.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Paul Burke
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 07:08 PM

Sorry to disagree with the lot of you. He had travelled the well- trodden road from left to right, proving that his vaunted intellect was nothing more than Oxbridge debating society skill. The basic problem was that he lacked humanity, and that led him to support war, and to viciously attack Muslims, hiding racism under the cloak of atheist disdain for religion. He demeaned atheism.

As an atheist, I hope the Divil carries him off below.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: MarkS
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 07:24 PM

Perhaps better said that he was able to modify his opinions and positions based on new knowledge. Rightly or wrongly, he will never be known as a "Flat-Earther" in his intellectual views.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 07:25 PM

Didn't this guy support Bush and his illegal war in Iraq? Screw him.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 07:54 PM

If Paul Burke believes Hitchens lacked humanity, he didn't get close to understanding the man.

Hitchens' support for the Iraq war and his utter contempt for Saddam, under whose rule Iraq was a better place than it has ever been since, was unfathomable when taken with his positions on so much else. But it is wildly simplistic to say he started on the left and finished on the right. By some measures he was as much a socialist on his deathbed as in his early working days on the New Statesman. Neither could his antagonism to Islam be characterised as racist, not least because it was more than equalled by his antagonism to the other Abrahamic churches, a large proportion of whose adherents are decent white folk.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 08:22 PM

As the "initial poster", pdq, I applied the term 'curmudgeon' because *I* felt it fit. If you read carefully, instead of just having a knee-jerk response, you'll see that the other terms were not MY doing, but part of the tributes by others.

John MacKenzie explains above why there 'should' be no confusion....and by now in this thread it is obvious that it was used as a term, not a name. (If our member had not picked that name *I* would have been tempted to grab it....and I'd bet that Hitchens would have liked the name.) I was surprised to that the word was NOT generally recognized as a term for a personality trait. (We had a member who used the name "Nerd" awhile back... would anyone mistake it in lower case?)

I admired Hitchens, even as I strongly disagreed with some of the directions he took....just as I do with some of our Mudcatters . Some of us are curmudgeons (with a small 'c') in our own right

To be a Christopher Hitchens requires a LOT of intelligence and reading, no matter what any of us think of his attitudes, habits or conclusions, and we could all do with a good dose of his wide-ranging interests, if not his often prickly behavior.

I will miss hearing him debate with those whose intellects approached his own... I never failed to learn something from it.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Bobert
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 08:44 PM

"Curmudgeon" is diplomatic...

The guy was an egoistical dick...

B~


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 09:29 PM

**grin** scholars seem to differ. That also might have amused Hitchens.

He WAS an egotistical dick, but a smart one. One doesn't have to like that sort to see that they had some serious influence.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Mrrzy
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 10:28 PM

Curmudgeon is a great descriptor for this great man, whom I will miss, and do not expect to see ever again!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 16 Dec 11 - 11:34 PM

Christopher Hitchens at the Atlantic.

Many of those who knew him personally found much to value in him, whether they agreed with him or not, which is making me look more closely than I did in the past.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 17 Dec 11 - 12:06 AM

Was it Oscar Wilde who said, "I'd like to go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company."?


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST, Eb
Date: 17 Dec 11 - 02:43 AM

That sounds more like Mark Twain.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 17 Dec 11 - 06:30 AM

BBC Radio 4 broadcast a series of Hitchens' essays a couple of months ago. He personally subjected himself voluntarily to waterboarding (by guys who'd done it for real in the war against terror) to assess for himself whether it constitutes torture or not. His verdict was that it does.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Dec 11 - 06:59 AM

Martin Amis tells a great story about the time when he and Hitchens, two young men at the time, were having a meal in a restaurant. Just as they'd started, two "hooray Henries" - UK-speak for so-called upper-class, ill-behaved rich oiks - came in and, after speaking to the maitre d', began very noisily and peremptorily, to rearrange tables. Obviously in preparation for a large group.

One of them then went up to the Amis and Hitchens table with the obvious intention of asking them to move and, with a condescending smile on his face, said, "Sorry, chaps, you're going to hate me for this."

Hitchens immediately retorted, "We already hate you," and studiously ignored him. End of conversation. Love him or hate him, he was his own man.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Dec 11 - 07:43 AM

well lets just be sorry for him. Cancer of the oesophagus - not a nice way to go.

A bit like Clarkson, entertaining but annoying. There are teachers and social workers and people like that dealing with the shit as best they can. And you never feel he had much respect for the people who dealt with that side of things.

why can't we all aspire to being a clever bugger like me. and none of the rest of you have any claim or right to be educated. It was that sort of arrogance that put me off.

but having said all that, I'm sorry he suffered.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Mrrzy
Date: 17 Dec 11 - 10:24 AM

That restaurant memory is wonderful!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Max Johnson
Date: 17 Dec 11 - 11:23 AM

A very funny Rowson cartoon on The Guardian comments page.

You might not find it funny of course, but never mind because I'll probably bugger up the link anyway.

Cartoon
Unbuggered -Mod


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Max Johnson
Date: 17 Dec 11 - 11:25 AM

Yep. It's here:

www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cartoon/2011/dec/16/martin-rowson-christopher-hitchens-cartoon


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 17 Dec 11 - 12:14 PM

"There are days when I miss my old convictions as if they were an amputated limb," Christopher Hitchens wrote recently. "But in general I feel better, and no less radical, and you will feel better too, I guarantee, once you leave hold of the doctrinaire and allow your chainless mind to do its own thinking."


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: pdq
Date: 17 Dec 11 - 12:47 PM

I wonder what would have happened if Christopher Hitchens and Mark Twain met.

Here are some of Mark Twain's best quotes.


"There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist."

"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company."

"Always do right - this will gratify some and astonish the rest."

"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

"Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand."

"It has been often said, very truly, that religion is the thing that makes the ordinary man feel extraordinary; it is an
equally important truth that religion is the thing that makes the extraordinary man feel ordinary."

"Hearing nuns' confessions is like being stoned to death with popcorn."

"We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another."


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Max Johnson
Date: 17 Dec 11 - 01:45 PM

Many thanks, Mod.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST,Steaming' Willie
Date: 17 Dec 11 - 02:59 PM

What I enjoyed about him was how you could read some bits he wrote and think his views on the world chimed in time with yours.

Then he rattled on passionately about something you might fundamentally disagree with.

His denunciation of organised religion is on an artistic level which made him an ideal foil for Dawkin's scientific views and the two together made an intellectual argument.

His views on wars in The Middle East were crafted with the same skill, even if many, myself included, took issue.

Certainly lost a clever larger than life character too soon.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 17 Dec 11 - 03:16 PM

Very witty and funny man. But, as said before, an attention seeker beyond compare. Don't get me wrong - Nothing wrong with what he did and he did it so well. But I often got the impression that the words were for effect rather than from the heart.

Pretty much like me realy so fuck off you set of sychophantic arse lickers.

:D tG


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 18 Dec 11 - 11:05 AM

His writing was always lively and witty. And the fact that he was only 2 months older than I am I take as a personal affront. I'm not finished reading him yet, dammit! And I'm certain he wasn't finished writing.

In this past June's issue of Vanity Fair, he described his latest symptom -- loss of his speaking voice -- in terms that most people just don't understand. Alas, Tom and I understand all too well. But it was Hitch who wrote of it for his large audience. And I wrote about it, too, quoting him, in a note at Facebook, if anyone is interested.

My world is emptier without him.

Linn


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Joe_F
Date: 18 Dec 11 - 01:53 PM

Max Johnson: That cartoon reminds me of an anecdote I heard from an orthodox Jew (a folksinger, by coincidence), who visited a friend -- a skeptic -- in a hospital. The skeptic said he was about to die; he knew it because he had seen God. The Jew was taken aback, but his friend immediately said: "Don't worry; it wasn't Jesus". He died the next day.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 18 Dec 11 - 03:31 PM

He was largely a waste of space. An intellectual argument against Christianity? Why, is one necessary? Do we need intellectual arguments against Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy? No intellectual arguments are required. You believe the stuff or you don't and all the arguing in the world isn't going to change it or it would have by now.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Dec 11 - 03:43 PM

Hitchens did far more than argue against Christianity.

And intellectual arguments are important in any debate, else all the other shallow, stupid arguments be the only ones... and even shallow, stupid people seem to recognize shallowness & stupidity in others.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 18 Dec 11 - 09:04 PM

///else all the other shallow, stupid arguments be the only ones///

Hitchens preached to the converted to get his little pat on the head. He did nothing to undelude the deluded except call them stupid which doesn't exactly inspire a desire in them to listen to anything he had to say. I don't care what he had to say because I don't believe anyway. He was a devisive character and we have enough of those.

////Hitchens did far more than argue against Christianity.////

Yeah, he supported the war criminal Bush and his illegal, murderous war. He's a fuckhead. Thanks for nothing.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Dec 11 - 09:18 PM

Well maybe he paid his tax and did some good. At least he worked. Anyway he's dead after an awful illness.

You shouldn't call him a fuckhead, even if he was.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 18 Dec 11 - 09:37 PM

I donno Al. I don't often agree with josepp. But he may have stumbled on a rather profound thing here. Hitchen's had no trouble calling it as he saw it. Sawing just exactly what you think of Hitchens without diplomacy, is probably the best tribute to him.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: ollaimh
Date: 18 Dec 11 - 11:08 PM

i loved his debates with many that are in you tube. and much more. i can't fathon his support for the iraq war, even if inspired by a desire for freedom from a tyrant like saddam. american put so much into proping up saddam, i think a little more finessre was necassary. and of course bankrupting the country for the neo con adgenda hardly looks wise now.

no one deserves esopheageal cancer. a dear frind of mine died of it last year. he was a genius as well. he developed a cheap wasy to purify anything from water. he may have saved the world, but he suffered greatly and no one deserves that

hitchens was a brilliant debater and writer and i'll miss him even if i didn't agree with him.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 19 Dec 11 - 06:54 AM

Personally I looked forward to his jousts and debates on TV and there's a fine legacy of YouTube clips to back this up. As an example, his introduction and support to a speech given by Naom Chomsky is so clever, his legacy cannot be dismissed so peremptorily.

josepp says:

"He was largely a waste of space. An intellectual argument against Christianity? Why, is one necessary? Do we need intellectual arguments against Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy?"

I believe Hitchens' views were against all religion, not just Christianity, however josepp has a point...the only difference being that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy are not particularly known for initiating wars in their names - which religion, per se, has done throughout history. The conclusion which is absolutely correct is that people of faith have just that...faith...and no amount of argument will dissuade them of it. In support of true balance, however, we shouldn't stop preaching against the excesses of religion though, any more than we shouldn't stop railing against Fascism or Stalinism or any other hideous 'ism' - just because your opponent has faith.

I wouldn't mind betting that twenty or so years ago Hitchens' views would have been perfectly in tune with the radical left but that his (relatively) recent volte face on some issues have made things rather difficult.

But I agree with Big Al...calling the man a fuckhead does little to reinforce an opinion.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 19 Dec 11 - 10:43 AM

I have been reading a lot of the stuff that has come out since his death -- commentary on him, and links to past his material -- to try to get a better read on him.

I have to preface this by saying that he only came on my radar in relation to his atheistic arguments. Although I am an atheist, his style of argument is one I find uncomfortable. It's a style that's more likely to offend than persuade (and can even offend those who are already persuaded).

From my reading, I can see that those who had personal contact with him, including believers who debated him, found him personally charming, and a good friend. That's where that public style fails: in fact, while he was against religion, he saw no reason to reject religious people, but a noisy argument overshadows that. If you call religion "idiotic", people who are religious might reasonably think you consider them idiots. You're left with the relatively small set of people who actually have conversations with you who understand more fully what you mean.

(Similarly if you call someone a "fuckhead", for people of my disposition, you shut down conversation.)

I confess I had tuned him out along with the other "New Atheists". Going back and listening more, I do hear the points with which I agree. But, I recognize that there's a difference in how I hear him when I have been persuaded to listen with a charitable ear.

Many of his friends found that they could understand his support of the Iraq war because they understood the moral basis from which his support arose (even if they did not agree, or like Andrew Sullivan, found that they changed their mind).

But, this morning I think I read the best piece, from one of my favorite current thinkers: Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic. The world is not a black-and-white place (!), and a debate style of approach -- grab onto an argument and defend at all costs -- whether in discussing ideas or people can results in babies being lost with the bathwater.

Coates says:

"Virtues don't excuse sins; they cohabit with them."

"I'd like to say that ... there's no demand for exclusion, or any sense that Hitchens worthy of unalloyed admiration. No one should ever receive, or wisely desire, such a thing. I can't really speak for other people, but I don't believe in an essential, irreducible moral nature. I don't see Hitchens, or anyone else, as a case of either/or."

A commenter wrote: "While I understand your point about how great virtues and great vices can coexist in the same person, I'd like to see more elaboration about why you think this man's virtues (which you remain silent on in this post) outweighed his vices. "

Coates replied:

'Again, I think the frame is wrong. I don't know that his "virtues outweigh his vices." That presumes a kind of grand authority that I neither want, nor feel qualified, to exercise. It's just not a case I would ever make. Nor am I really interested in making the case, it's sort of irrelevant to me. It seems to originate from the need to either declare someone a "good person" or a "bad person." I think it's clear from my writing on slavery and race that I don't really see the world that way.'

Is this way of looking at people wishy-washy? I don't believe so, but someone like Hitchins might find it so. It certainly makes it hard to have a conversation with someone who has that more adamant style of thinking and speaking.

(If you made it to the bottom of this, thanks.)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 19 Dec 11 - 11:46 AM

My opinions are only that. I could care less if you agree with them. If you supported Bush and his war, you
ARE a fuckhead. I did not say you are a fuckhead if you liked Hitchens but you have tarnished yourself in my eyes which shouldn't bother you unless you really care that much what I think of you and you shouldn't because I don't care what you think of me.

All that said, there are a few things that so go against everything I stand for as a human being that if you support them, I cannot support you no matter how close we may be on every other issue. One of those things is the Iraq war. It was an incredible abuse of power that has been nothing but a huge disaster and made me feel disgusted to be an American. If you support it, you support the Abu Ghraib torture, you support the murder of Abeer Hamza and her entire family by US Marines, you support the deaths of 100,000 Iraqi civilians through sectarian and terrorist violence, you support the unbeliavable amount of contractor fraud and thievery. You are NOT a morally developed human being!!!!

To say, "Other than his stance on the Iraq War, Hitchens was a great guy" is to me like saying, "Other than the fact that he regarded non-white people as subhumans more closely related to chimpanzees than to Homo sapiens, he was a great guy." NO--HE'S NOT!!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 19 Dec 11 - 01:59 PM

Hitchens preached to the converted

I'm not sure that josepp could back that up. I remember Richard Dawkins, in a review of (I think) God is Great, noting that for his promotional tour Hitchens had eschewed the easy pickings of the east and west coasts and instead bravely took his message to "the reptilean brain of middle America." Or words to that effect.

Becky, I did make it to the end, no problem. Your post brought to mind something I've seen attributed to Solzhenitsyn, though I've never managed to track it down: "The line between good and evil passes through the heart of every man."


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Amos
Date: 19 Dec 11 - 03:30 PM

JP:

I deeply wish you had a quarter of Hitchens style, wit, learning, insight and lucidity in language.

From your remarks, it seems you have less than that of all of them.

Your ability to be acerbic without brevity is not a compensation.

A


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: alanabit
Date: 19 Dec 11 - 03:54 PM

I didn't agree with him on every issue, but that goes for most people. If you agree with someone on every issue it is usually just a sign that you are talking to yourself. I am very sad to see him go though. I felt he had fundamental integrity and the right sort of morality - that which is concerned with the value of human beings rather than adherence to abstract (and often arbitrary) priniciples. Much as I disagreed with his views on Iraq, I felt that he did more good than harm by a very long way. I hope there is something beyond this mortal coil - and I hope it is good for Christopher Hithchens - irrespective of the fact that he may not be expecting it!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 19 Dec 11 - 08:39 PM

////I remember Richard Dawkins, in a review of (I think) God is Great, noting that for his promotional tour Hitchens had eschewed the easy pickings of the east and west coasts and instead bravely took his message to "the reptilean brain of middle America."////

What is that even supposed to mean?????


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Dec 11 - 10:15 PM

It means he was NOT "preaching to the choir." He was trying to make his points the hard way.


....kinda like I am right now.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 20 Dec 11 - 04:29 AM

"the reptilean brain of middle America." Or words to that effect.

He was!! He was preaching to the choir because they were the only ones who would go see him. Do any of you believe that there are no atheists in Dallas, Atlanta or Chicago? Do you think those cities are populated with nothing but creationist fundamentalists? Or has Hitchens fooled you from the grave with one of his silly reptile manure arguments?


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Jack the Sailor
Date: 20 Dec 11 - 06:09 AM

"the reptilean brain of middle America." Or words to that effect.

from an interview With Hitchens. Sounds like his choir to me.
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/07/transcending-god/6076/5/?single_page=true

According to the Wall Street Journal, you've been selling a lot of books in the Bible Belt.

And I promise you, there was no stop where we didn't have to turn hundreds of people away.

Who were these hundreds of people? Were they atheists? Were they religious people who were angry at you?

No, definitely not. They are people who have had enough. Particularly in the South, they're people who don't like being laughed at by people from the North who think they're all rednecks and Falwell fanciers. They're very clear on that. They regard that association as a fucking insult, which it is. Falwell died the week of my swing through the South, making me wonder if someone up there really does like me. So I had to mention it, and I said what I thought about him, and it brought roars of applause. Even the things I said about him that were really, by any standards, quite rude, while the guy's carcass is hardly cold.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 20 Dec 11 - 12:12 PM

I'm amused at all the liberal hypocrisy going on here spoken by people who were so against the Iraq War that they were ready to slay anyone who supported it on sight. Such supporters are, after all, just a bunch of redneck, Christian, Bush-loving thugs.

But when someone they hold in high esteem for being an atheist--Hitchens--goes and says he supports that war and the man who broke every law in the book to wage it, "oh--he was really a great guy. I don't expect to be in agreement with him on everything, you know."

Just what ARE your convictions?? What ones WON'T you sell down the river to maintain your little cult of personality worship of this good ol' curmudgeon?

Why tell me that his arguments are necessary because of the wars started by religion when the man who utters those arguments supports the very wars you tell me his arguments are supposed to prevent??? What is wrong with you that you would rather expose yourselves as hypocrites so that you don't have to call him one??


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: alanabit
Date: 20 Dec 11 - 12:28 PM

"But when someone they hold in high esteem for being an atheist--Hitchens--goes and says he supports that war and the man who broke every law in the book to wage it, "oh--he was really a great guy. I don't expect to be in agreement with him on everything, you know."

If I fell out with everybody who disagreed with me, I would very soon have no friends at all. Any sentient human being will at times hold views, which appear plain wrong to others. I have the right to be wrong sometimes - and so did Christopher Hitchens. People who fail to grasp this principle are going to find it pretty tough to keep up any sort of a dialogue.

For the record josepp, I think Hitchens was wrong on the issue of the Iraq War and I think Bush led a motley coven of crooks into it. That should be an unambiguous enough statement of where I stand.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 20 Dec 11 - 03:22 PM

josepp, your last post was, for me, thought-provoking. It's a pity your earlier comments were not as measured.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Bill D
Date: 20 Dec 11 - 03:33 PM

"What ones WON'T you sell down the river to maintain your little cult of personality worship of this good ol' curmudgeon?"

I don't see anyone worshiping his personality....and I have RT live friends who have flaws that trouble me.

I could type 9 paragraphs about the logical flaws in equating 'admiring' some aspects of a character with selling anyone down the river, but I kinda think it would be wasted effort.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 20 Dec 11 - 04:04 PM

Peter K (Fionn), thanks for the Solzhenitsyn (maybe) quote.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 20 Dec 11 - 06:45 PM

Further, a more critical view from James Fallows at the Atlantic, via Coates.

~ Becky in Long Beach (where I was earlier, too) (it's a confusing life)


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 20 Dec 11 - 10:55 PM

////I have the right to be wrong sometimes - and so did Christopher Hitchens. People who fail to grasp this principle are going to find it pretty tough to keep up any sort of a dialogue.////

I'm not talking about being wrong. I'm talking about a fundamental moral failure. The real reason Hitchens supported Bush is because he saw himself in the man--big ego, big talker, always right and no chance that he'll ever change his mind no matter what happens. Hitchens saw nothing wrong with invading another sovereign nation even if Bush had to fabricate charges to do it. And all the murder, torture, brutality, degradation and thievery that resulted was all acceptable in order to achieve an outcome that at best was disastrous. I have absolutely no respect for anyone who thinks that way. I don't how anyone could. For someone everyone here is telling was so intelligent and so very witty, then he understood perfectly well what the Iraq War was all about and so there is no excuse.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST,Shining Wit
Date: 21 Dec 11 - 04:33 AM

"Just what ARE your convictions?? What ones WON'T you sell down the river to maintain your little cult of personality worship of this good ol' curmudgeon?"

Not everyone is so absolutist in their outlook as you, and you don't understand what Hitchens' arguments if you think it's all so black and white.

Hitchens supported Bush's sordid little war because he felt totalitarianism is one of the greatest threats to free thinking and personal liberty and he had no idea at the time how events were going to play out, the utter ineptitude of the US and UK's policy (what of it existed). To Hitchens, the deification of Saddam within Iraq (the cult of the dictator - one we know so well) and subsequent oppression of his people represented a greater threat than Bush did, and in a sense he's right. Bush doesn't present a long-term threat because the man is such a complete fool and Saddam was far from a fool, plus there is democracy of a sorts in the USA.

So the Iraq war enabled one more totalitarian dictator to be hauled over the side of the good ship Personal Freedom. Of course, the real problems with the Iraq war was that Bush et al were as immoral and corrupt as Saddam, but that wasn't Hitchens point.

Far from being a failure of morality, Hitchens viewpoint was the war could achieve a long-term moral victory, enabling ordinary Iraqis the freedom they lacked under Saddam. The fact the whole enterprise was so fucked-up by neocon maniacs with an insatiable bloodlust is not Hitchen's fault, so you might want to apportion blame where it's due: with Bush, Blair, Rumsfeld and Cheney and the torturers of Abu Ghraib and the people ordering bomb strikes that have killed 95,000 people.

Hitchens was right in a sense, it was the people calling the shots who were so very wrong.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Christopher Hitchens- curmudgeon
From: GUEST,josepp
Date: 21 Dec 11 - 05:21 PM

///Hitchens supported Bush's sordid little war because he felt totalitarianism is one of the greatest threats to free thinking and personal liberty and he had no idea at the time how events were going to play out, the utter ineptitude of the US and UK's policy (what of it existed).///

You obviously don't get it: after all of that happened--the torture, the thievery--Hitchens would not change his opinion. He still favored what was going on in Iraq. IOW, he's just like Bush. Just like him.

////To Hitchens, the deification of Saddam within Iraq (the cult of the dictator - one we know so well) and subsequent oppression of his people represented a greater threat than Bush did////

Well, he was wrong. Not that he'd ever admit it. Nor would those who hung on his every word. No different than dittoheads. No matter what the guy says, they'll still love him. He's their hero.

////Bush doesn't present a long-term threat because the man is such a complete fool ////

Wow. When did being a fool preclude the ability to be a long-term threat?? And you're wrong, of course, what Bush did to Iraq and to the United States--and, really, the whole world, is going to last for years.

////So the Iraq war enabled one more totalitarian dictator to be hauled over the side of the good ship Personal Freedom. Of course, the real problems with the Iraq war was that Bush et al were as immoral and corrupt as Saddam, but that wasn't Hitchens point.////

Well, golly-gee, how convenient. So I could walk up to him and say, "Hey, dickhead, your support for the Iraq War was as disastrous as the war itself--which, by the way, was illegal and immoral and as totalitarian a move that there ever was."

And he just says, "Well, that wasn't my point." Oh, well, then excuse the fuck out of me, Mr. Hitchens, sir! As usual, you're right and everybody else with a differing opinion is wrong.

////Far from being a failure of morality, Hitchens viewpoint was the war could achieve a long-term moral victory, enabling ordinary Iraqis the freedom they lacked under Saddam.////

Once again, he was wrong.

////The fact the whole enterprise was so fucked-up by neocon maniacs with an insatiable bloodlust is not Hitchen's fault///

Never said it was. I said he had no morals for supporting the Iraq War not that he was to blame for the Iraq War.

///so you might want to apportion blame where it's due: with Bush, Blair, Rumsfeld and Cheney and the torturers of Abu Ghraib and the people ordering bomb strikes that have killed 95,000 people.///

I blame them entirely and consider them war criminals. I've never said anything different. I direct your attention to my earlier posts where I called Bush a war criminal because when the shoe fits...

And when you support a war criminal, I don't regard you as any better than him even if you didn't commit his crimes.

///Hitchens was right in a sense, it was the people calling the shots who were so very wrong.////

They were all wrong. No one is right in a sense. He was either right or he was wrong. He wasn't sort of right.

He chose to get into bed with that crowd because he has no moral compass. Like many sociopaths, he had the ability to make those around him think he did but, like a sociopath, his actions spoke louder than his words. He was an irresponsible drunk, a misogynist, at least a borderline racist and a sociopath with no guilt or conscience. But like many people with those traits--Bush, Cheney, etc.--somehow they end up being worshiped by large numbers of utter fools.


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