Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens: Atheist, Author, Asshole

I will confess to not being the biggest Hitchens fan, which is putting it lightly. I know the guy just died, but if I’m being honest… I was rooting for the scotch and cigarettes.

I just never liked Hitchens. I’m sorry for the loss to his family and friends, but I know they won’t be reading this. I imagine only fans of Hitchens will read this, and to them, I have a few choice words.

There’s really two main points on which I disagree with Hitchens, and only one of them is enough to make me dislike the guy. The first, less severe disagreement I have with him is that he tried to argue that women are naturally less funny than men. He tried to pull some labored evolutionary argument out of his ass (something about how women are already attractive to men, so they don’t have to make men laugh, whereas men have to attract women… I found it piss-poor at best). Never mind that humor is not an in-born trait, but an art which is worked at. Plenty of women make the effort and succeed at comedy, and not only as a career.

But I can overlook that. In the grand scheme of things, I can get over one article where someone is sharing his blatant bias and justifying it by utterly misinterpreting a scientific study whose actual findings were that women seem to essentially enjoy humor more and be more sensitive to what they find to be “unfunny.” Plus, it’s quite clear from the article that he does address many of these concerns (though why he ignores them is anyone’s guess). I didn’t even hate the article [http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/01/hitchens200701], I just think it’s a dumb conclusion to think women are less humorous than men. I’ve said more offensive things, and there’s much worse insults to women than to outright claim they’re less funny.

But the deal breaker, the one thing that I found out about Hitchens which I cannot stand, is his anti-Islamic war-mongering. If my interpretation of his writing on the subject is correct, he basically thinks we should be killing Muslims wholesale because he hates religion. I’m positive that isn’t how he would have phrased it, but that is what is essentially coming out. He appears to think that some distant group who believes something different than we do is a threat to us.

That’s precisely the kind of atheism I do not like. I don’t want anything to do with people who actually support hurting – let alone killing – others because of their beliefs. I thought this was a basic ethical imperative, but apparently “feeling threatened” has become the new argument for justifying anything these days. Just FYI: you don’t have the right to not feel threatened.

I keep hearing from Hitchens and people like him that Muslims want to take away our freedoms… but from what I can see, the strategy seems to be for the governments of the West to violate all civil and human rights first, before these damned Muslims can get their dirty hands on them. Oddly enough, I feel threatened by the breach in basic freedoms and human rights which the War on Terror has resulted in. I don’t need some overseas, brown-skinned boogeyman to make me feel like my rights are going to be violated; there’s an army of pale-faced chickenhawks here in the West.

And now there’s one less. Pardon me if I don’t miss him.

12 comments:

  1. The problem with Hitchens is that he consistently and knowingly presented information in a misleading way to "prove" his points. In other words, he was a habitual liar. While he had many apologists for this, he was quite blatant and unrepentant. So, yes a talented writer, but a horrible person. And I agreed with most of his positions (with the same exceptions you have) -- which to me is even more damning because he had plenty of ways to argue his points legitimately.

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  2. I've been an atheist for most of my life, but I've never been a fan of Hitchens. It's partly due to his politics and partly due to him being an arrogant prick. The only "good" thing about him is that he served as a reminder to non-theists that being an atheist does not necessarily make you smarter than, or morally superior to theists. All being an atheist says about you is that you don't believe in god/s.

    Now don't get me wrong believing in all powerful all knowing invisible sky daddy is pretty damn stupid, but believing "the war on terror" is not only justified but making us safer is every bit as stupid.

    I also find myself increasingly irritated with secular humanists in general, and other atheist organizations that seem to want to make us more like a religion. IMHO we do not need any official dogma to be a good person. It's pretty simple to be a good person: treat others how you would want to be treated, try to be honest, compassionate, understanding... in other words Don't be an arrogant, fear-mongering, self-centered asshole.

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  3. Funny, being a hard core atheist as I consider myself to be, never read or even heard of Hitchens, till today. Funny because a hard core catholic told me about his death.
    Also, I did not realize that my positions and actions, as an atheist made a new atheist. Never heard the term till read some articles about Victor Stenger.
    I am at that level, where, no new information is going to make me any more atheist than I am already. I did buy some of Stengers books, and for sure it gets tiring to read the same arguments. Sure, there are different ways of saying them, but at the end, they are the same. Do you undrestand what I am trying to say?
    I did discover, when I was a teenager in the early 60s, Bertrand Russel books at my adopted mother's bookselfs, and on my own atarted to read him and Sartre, t etc. Obviously, was one way street from there.
    I feel so free.

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  4. Hitchens never advocated killing Muslims wholesale. Ever. He believed that war is at times a justifiable means for freeing people from tyrranical regimes, and that the U.S. has a right to defend itself from religious extremists. If you disagree with him, fine. But you should not make defamatory statements unless you can produce evidence to support them.

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  5. the U.S. has a right to defend itself from religious extremists

    Is that what you think the US has done?

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  6. To some extent, yes, Bret. I personally did not always agree with Hitchens's views on Iraq and other foreign policy issues. I just think that, based on what I've read and heard from Hitchens over the years, that the blogger is being unfair to Hitchens and misrepresenting his views.

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  7. To some extent, yes

    And to the other extent...?

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  8. To the other extent, no.

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  9. I oppose the wars for the same reason I don't agree with Hitchens. I couid find things I agree with, but I find the things I disagree with to be inexcusable.

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  10. Thank god there's an atheist who dislikes Hitchens! I am an agnostic ex-Muslim and I HAAAAAAAAAATE him soooo damn much! It's pity I didn't get to speed his death by giving him a big punch.

    Thanks for the post Bret.

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  11. hitchens made all kinds of noise where it concerned islamic terrorism , but what actually threatens us is state sponsored false flag murder ,on this he had little to say. his intelligence and ability to observe the human condition convinces me he knew the truth.he is complicit in mass murder , by career design. so f em

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  12. This post is incredibly stupid and misleading. As you say, Hitchens would never have used the phrase "we should be killing Muslims wholesale because he hates religion." You're right. He wouldn't say that. Because he believes nothing of the sort, and nothing close to it, regardless of phrasing. You go on to say "I don’t want anything to do with people who actually support hurting – let alone killing – others because of their beliefs." You and Hitchens actually AGREE ON THIS POINT. THIS IS ONE OF HIS MAJOR CRITICISMS OF ISLAM, and it is an entirely valid one. Those who leave the islamic faith, in the minds of many muslims, deserve death. Those who speak ill of the Muhammed - Salman Rushdie, for example, deserve death. The threat of violent reprisal for statements disagreeing with church doctrine is UNIQUELY CREDIBLE in Islamic context. Those are all factual statements. You have grossly misrepresented Hitchens' position in an attempt to create an easily dismissed straw man, to satisfy your puny intellect. WE ABSOLUTELY DO HAVE THE RIGHT TO NOT BE THREATENED WITH PHYSICAL VIOLENCE SIMPLY FOR SAYING SOMETHING SOMEONE ELSE DISAGREES WITH. WORDS ARE WORDS. VIOLENCE IS VIOLENCE. VIOLENCE IS NEVER AN APPROPRIATE RESPONSE TO WORDS. NEVER. Idiot.

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