Christopher Hitchens (1949 – 2011)

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Christopher Hitchens died on 16 Dec. of pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer. With eloquence and reason, sprinkled generously with wit and wisdom, his talks were a joy to listen to. His unique insights into religion will resonate long after his voice has been silenced.

In one of my favorite clips, here’s Hitchens on hate speech:

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56 thoughts on “Christopher Hitchens (1949 – 2011)”

  1. Amen OS. The power of the OWS has been increased due to the extreme tactics being used by police all over the country.
    David, I am glad that you provided us with a means to vent about the late Mr. Hitchens. I, like others here can never forgive him for aiding and abetting the lie about Iraq.

  2. shano, they have given away the store. Now the OWS protesters know how to shut down a major portion of a city without having to do a whole lot of work. Kind of like the Republicants threatening a filibuster to shut down the Senate. Don’t have to actually DO anything, just threaten to do something.

    Pure genius.

  3. In Schenck v. United States (1919), Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, writing that the First Amendment does not protect speech that creates a “clear and present danger,” such as shouting fire in a theater, affirmed the conviction of the defendant for distributing anti-draft leaflets. The opinion, however, does not state, as Hitchens does, that the leaflets were in Yiddish. This does not detract from Hitchens’ point, because, even if they were in English, the leaflets did not present a clear and present danger. But I don’t know where Hitchens got the idea that the leaflets were in Yiddish.

  4. NYPD closed Times Square, kicked out tourists & shoppers, because OWS was headed there tonight.

  5. Martin,

    I think the protesters more likely than not were neither a clear and present danger nor inciting imminent lawless action but were likely engaging in protected free speech. Cracking down on dissent is always one of the first actions taken when governments slide into tyranny.

  6. martingugino: The war of aggression with Iraq was an international crime,

    that’s the part that bears repeating

    my apologies martingugino, c & p the wrong part of your post

  7. from Roger Ailes(The Roger Ailes of goodness and light and probably puppies)

    Ashes to ashes. Smoking will do that to you.

    Christopher Hitchens has died. He is not survived by thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed by America’s occupation of Iraq.

    markdavismd: his purported atheism?? you aren’t sure if Hitchens was really an atheist?

    martingugino: The war with Iraq was not a “mistake”.

    just because that bears repeating

  8. The first ten minutes of the headline video, in which Hitchens defends free speech, is quite orthodox, which is to say fine. He starts by shouting “fire”. I am not sure why. He would not defend it. And that memorable phrase by Holmes is little used, unless someone knows where it has been to effect. It could have been used in the Pentagon papers case, but was not, AFAIK.

    Then he moves to religion as the fountainhead of hatred, which I will have to come back to. But where elimination of religion has been tried, as in the USSR, the results were thin. And examining my own small store of hatred, I don’t see the connection to religion, in myself. Perhaps others could comment on their own introspection?

  9. Indeed, a brilliant light will shine no more. I hope God looks the other way when he hits the Pearly Gates, his purportd atheism could be a detriment to moving forward.MD

  10. Gene H, since you mention “clear and present danger” [@December 17, 2011 at 8:54 am], how do you feel about the repeated arrestings of demonstrators on the sidewalk outside the front door of the White House?
    Recently, for the XL Pipeline issue.
    You may have mentioned already, but I like to ask.

  11. I fully agree with Bob Esq and found most of Hitchen’s arguments to be sophomoric at best.

    I was, however, touched by his very real pride in attaining American citizenship. He wanted to be an American and he wanted to tell everybody he was an American.

  12. I was also reminded of WF Buckley. I saw Buckley talking with Jonathan Kozol I think on the Dick Cavett show, about education. Bill was a disgrace. So much brainpower wasted.

  13. Hitchen’s manner was William F. Buckley’s, without the Catholicism and a more moderate conservative bent. He spoke beautifully and could carry one away with the brilliant sounds of his arguments. Unfortunately, like Buckley the logical underpinnings of his assertions were usually shaky and
    as Elaine said he didn’t brook people disagreeing with him. I’m sad at his early death though, he was an interesting character to have around.

  14. The war with Iraq was not a “mistake”.
    A mistake is when you buy wrinkle cream on ebay.
    The war of aggression with Iraq was an international crime,
    and Cheney’s top-secret energy task force makes it look evil as well.

  15. So Elaine,

    I take it you wouldn’t still characterize his arguments in favor of the Iraq war as ‘persuasive’ but ‘unwise.’

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