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Christopher Hitchens

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
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Nick
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Christopher Hitchens

#1 Post by Nick » December 16th, 2011, 5:22 am

Christopher Hitchens has died. I will miss him.

I wouldn't want to be in God's shoes right now.....

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Dave B
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#2 Post by Dave B » December 16th, 2011, 9:48 am

Yeah, heard the news just as I got up. A great and sad loss.

Perhaps it is the devil who will get an earful and send him upstairs to get rid of him!
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Tetenterre
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#3 Post by Tetenterre » December 16th, 2011, 10:34 am

A huge intellect and champion of rationalism. We have lost a dedicated scourge of irrational drivel and bane to the massed cohorts of the inanely credulous.
Steve

Quantum Theory: The branch of science with which people who know absolutely sod all about quantum theory can explain anything.

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Alan H
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#4 Post by Alan H » December 16th, 2011, 10:41 am

I loved listening to him talk and the way he could either devour his opponent in a single bite or slowly but surely nibble away at their arguments, until there was not a morsel left for them to argue.

As Nick says, he'll be having an interesting discussion with God - and I know who would win!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

ludite
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#5 Post by ludite » December 16th, 2011, 10:51 am

That is a real blight on my day, we we have all lost a great champion and spokesman I am not a whiskey drinker but the next time I am in the pub I shall raise a glass of whiskey in his memory.

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Alan H
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#6 Post by Alan H » December 16th, 2011, 10:54 am

OK, we need favourite quotes from the great orator. Here's one Tweeted by Robin Ince:
On death of a TV evangelist "if you gave him an enema he could have been buried in a matchbox"
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: Christopher Hitchens

#7 Post by Nick » December 16th, 2011, 11:26 am

I'll have a think about a favourite quotation....

How about "Johnny Walker Black- Breakfast of Champions!" ? :D

I loved listening to him, not only for what he said (most of the time) but also for his language and his voice. Though it always made me feel thirsty. I felt I should have my hand round a tumbler clinking with ice, or a good fresh white wine.....



In the meantime, I think an appropriate memory would be to see if we can get "hitchslap" into the OED. :D

Nick
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#8 Post by Nick » December 16th, 2011, 12:44 pm

"Jesus is Santa Claus for adults" (GING)

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Alan H
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#9 Post by Alan H » December 16th, 2011, 12:47 pm

Ah. The Guardian has done it for us:
"The four most overrated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics."

"[George W Bush] is lucky to be governor of Texas. He is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things." – Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC, 2000

"'Bombing Afghanistan back into the Stone Age' was quite a favourite headline for some wobbly liberals. The slogan does all the work. But an instant's thought shows that Afghanistan is being, if anything, bombed OUT of the Stone Age." – Daily Mirror, November 2001

"The noble title of 'dissident' must be earned rather than claimed; it connotes sacrifice and risk rather than mere disagreement …"

"Do bear in mind that the cynics have a point, of a sort, when they speak of the 'professional naysayer'." "To be in opposition is not to be a nihilist. And there is no decent or charted way of making a living at it. It is something you are, and not something you do." – Letters to a Young Contrarian, 2001

"[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction." – Slate, October 2003

"The search for nirvana, like the search for utopia or the end of history or the classless society, is ultimately a futile and dangerous one. It involves, if it does not necessitate, the sleep of reason. There is no escape from anxiety and struggle." – Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays, 2004

"Those who had alleged that a million civilians were dying from sanctions were willing, nay eager, to keep those same murderous sanctions if it meant preserving Saddam!" – The Weekly Standard, May 2005.

"The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals." – God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, 2007

"My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilisation, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can't prove it, but you can't disprove it either." – God Is Not Great

"The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more." – The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer, 2007

"I became a journalist partly so that I wouldn't ever have to rely on the press for my information." – Hitch-22, 2010

"What is your idea of earthly happiness? To be vindicated in my own lifetime." – Hitch-22

"Cheap booze is a false economy." – Hitch-22

"Where would you like to live? In a state of conflict or a conflicted state?" – Hitch-22
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Tetenterre
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#10 Post by Tetenterre » December 16th, 2011, 12:53 pm

"It's called faith because it's not knowledge."

From the Telegraph:
Hitchens on Mother Teresa

"[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction."

"A lying, thieving Albanian dwarf".


Hitchens on former US President George W Bush

“[George W. Bush] is lucky to be governor of Texas. He is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things.”

"The general view was that you were a provincial Texan with no interest in doing anything much except shrinking the budget and cutting the maximum tax rate. (This general view was more or less right.)"

"George Bush made a mistake when he referred to the Saddam Hussein regime as 'evil.' Every liberal and leftist knows how to titter at such black-and-white moral absolutism. What the president should have done, in the unlikely event that he wanted the support of America's peace-mongers, was to describe a confrontation with Saddam as the 'lesser evil.'"


Hitchens on Saddam Hussein

“Some peaceniks clear their throats by saying that, of course, they oppose Saddam Hussein as much as anybody, though not enough to support doing anything about him.”

“I got hold of a copy of the video that showed how Saddam Hussein had actually confirmed himself in power. This snuff-movie opens with a plenary session of the Ba'ath Party central committee: perhaps a hundred men. Suddenly the doors are locked and Saddam, in the chair, announces a special session. Into the room is dragged an obviously broken man, who begins to emit a robotic confession of treason and subversion, that he sobs has been instigated by Syrian and other agents. As the (literally) extorted confession unfolds, names begin to be named. Once a fellow-conspirator is identified, guards come to his seat and haul him from the room. The reclining Saddam, meanwhile, lights a large cigar and contentedly scans his dossiers. The sickness of fear in the room is such that men begin to crack up and weep, rising to their feet to shout hysterical praise, even love, for the leader. Inexorably, though, the cull continues, and faces and bodies go slack as their owners are pinioned and led away. When it is over, about half the committee members are left, moaning with relief and heaving with ardent love for the boss. (In an accompanying sequel, which I have not seen, they were apparently required to go into the yard outside and shoot the other half, thus sealing the pact with Saddam. I am not sure that even Beria or Himmler would have had the nerve and ingenuity and cruelty to come up with that.)”


Hitchens on Michael Moore

"If Michael Moore had had his way, Slobodan Milosevic would still be the big man in a starved and tyrannical Serbia. Bosnia and Kosovo would have been cleansed and annexed. If Michael Moore had been listened to, Afghanistan would still be under Taliban rule, and Kuwait would have remained part of Iraq. And Iraq itself would still be the personal property of a psychopathic crime family, bargaining covertly with the slave state of North Korea for WMD. You might hope that a retrospective awareness of this kind would induce a little modesty. To the contrary, it is employed to pump air into one of the great sagging blimps of our sorry, mediocre, celeb-rotten culture. Rock the vote, indeed."


Hitchens on former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger

"Henry Kissinger should have the door shut in his face by every decent person and should be shamed, ostracized and excluded. No more dinners in his honour; no more respectful audiences for his absurdly overpriced public appearances; no more smirking photographs with hostesses and celebrities; no more soliciting of his worthless opinions by sycophantic editors and producers."


Hitchens on the Royal Family

"We have known for a long time that Prince Charles's empty sails are so rigged as to be swelled by any passing waft or breeze of crankiness and cant."

"This is what you get when you found a political system on the family values of Henry VIII. At a point in the not-too-remote future, the stout heart of Queen Elizabeth II will cease to beat. At that precise moment, her firstborn son will become head of state, head of the armed forces, and head of the Church of England. In strict constitutional terms, this ought not to matter much. The English monarchy, as has been said, reigns but does not rule. From the aesthetic point of view it will matter a bit, because the prospect of a morose bat-eared and chinless man, prematurely aged, and with the most abysmal taste in royal consorts, is a distinctly lowering one."

"Together, Margaret and Charles set the tone for the dowdy, feckless, can't-stay-married shower of titled descendants with whose names, let alone doings, it is near-impossible to keep up. There are so many of them! And things always have to be found for them to do."


Hitchens on war

“Cluster bombs are perhaps not good in themselves, but when they are dropped on identifiable concentrations of Taliban troops, they do have a heartening effect.”

“I don't think the war in Afghanistan was ruthlessly enough waged.”

“Will an Iraq war make our Al Qaeda problem worse? Not likely.”

“The death toll is not nearly high enough ... too many [jihadists] have escaped.”


Hitchens on politics

“The noble title of "dissident" must be earned rather than claimed; it connotes sacrifice and risk rather than mere disagreement.”

“What I used to say to people, when I was much more engagé myself, is that you can't be apolitical. It will come and get you. It's not that you shouldn't be neutral. It's that you won't be able to stay neutral.”

“Every day, the New York Times carries a motto in a box on its front page. 'All the News That's Fit to Print,' it says. It's been saying it for decades, day in and day out. I imagine most readers of the canonical sheet have long ceased to notice this bannered and flaunted symbol of its mental furniture. I myself check every day to make sure that the bright, smug, pompous, idiotic claim is still there. Then I check to make sure that it still irritates me. If I can still exclaim, under my breath, why do they insult me and what do they take me for and what the hell is it supposed to mean unless it's as obviously complacent and conceited and censorious as it seems to be, then at least I know I still have a pulse. You may wish to choose a more rigorous mental workout but I credit this daily infusion of annoyance with extending my lifespan.”

“How is the United States at once the most conservative and commercial AND the most revolutionary society on Earth?”


Hitchens on religion

“Thus, though I dislike to differ with such a great man, Voltaire was simply ludicrous when he said that if god did not exist it would be necessary to invent him. The human invention of god is the problem to begin with.”

“Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all. The prohibition on picturing the prophet – who was only another male mammal – is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent.”

"The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals."

“Religious exhortation and telling people, telling children, that if they don’t do the right thing, they’ll go to terrifying punishments or unbelievable rewards, that’s making a living out of lying to children. That’s what the priesthood do. And if all they did was lie to the children, it would be bad enough. But they rape them and torture them and then hope we’ll call it ‘abuse’.”

“Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.”

“Everything about Christianity is contained in the pathetic image of 'the flock.”

“Judaism has some advantages over Christianity in that, for example, it does not proselytise — except among Jews — and it does not make the cretinous mistake of saying that the Messiah has already made his appearance. However, along with Islam and Christianity, it does insist that some turgid and contradictory and sometimes evil and mad texts, obviously written by fairly unexceptional humans, are in fact the word of god. I think that the indispensable condition of any intellectual liberty is the realisation that there is no such thing.”

“Faith is the surrender of the mind; it's the surrender of reason, it's the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It's our need to believe, and to surrender our scepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.”


Hitchens on life

“The four most overrated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics.”

“[O]wners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realise that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”
Steve

Quantum Theory: The branch of science with which people who know absolutely sod all about quantum theory can explain anything.

Manuel
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#11 Post by Manuel » December 16th, 2011, 11:26 pm

Saddened by his demise. I admired the bloke, at least as much as one can via the internet, particularly enjoyed his debates with religion of which there are many available to view.

I stumbled across this today, a very late recording; booze and fags this time, where again he talks a lot of sense in my opinion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgQyuSxU ... re=related

Skyfrog
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#12 Post by Skyfrog » December 16th, 2011, 11:31 pm

I'm sad to hear he's passed away. He had a brilliant, brilliant mind. What a shame he's died so young. Think what he might have achieved with a few more decades?

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Alan H
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#13 Post by Alan H » December 17th, 2011, 12:25 am

From some bright spark on Twitter:
On Hitchens deathbed conversion: The hospital chaplain has resigned and is looking forward to his new life based on reason.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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anaconda
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#14 Post by anaconda » December 17th, 2011, 12:38 am

Very sad to hear of his death this morning. I got into him after reading God is Not Great and was quite taken by his expressive use of language and vigour. I also loved his debating style and humour. A genuine loss to those who bother to think about the issues that affect us all, and the importance of debate.

Terrible taste in booze though!
John

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Alan H
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#15 Post by Alan H » December 17th, 2011, 12:45 am

Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#16 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » December 17th, 2011, 10:34 am

A slightly different assessment of Hitchens from Frances Stonor Saunders in yesterday's Guardian — one I have quite a lot of sympathy with.

It's sad that he's died. I admired him, to a degree. But I didn't like him very much.

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Alan H
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#17 Post by Alan H » December 17th, 2011, 11:19 am

Martin Rowson on Hitchins:

Image
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#18 Post by Dave B » December 17th, 2011, 1:05 pm

:clap:
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

Nick
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#19 Post by Nick » December 17th, 2011, 9:41 pm

Apparently, Hitchens had a death-bed conversion. He asked for a priest, and converted him to atheism..... :D

Nick
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Re: Christopher Hitchens

#20 Post by Nick » December 18th, 2011, 10:25 pm

Paxman's interview with Hitch (conducted in 2010) is on BBC2 tonight at 11.30pm. It is already available on line.

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