Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Happy 60th Birthday Christopher Hitchens

I was lucky enough to cross paths with Christopher Hitchens on a few occasions back in the 80s and early 90s. We were both born in the same place and our careers and left leaning principles bought us and his brother Peter to the same places on occasions.
One of England's most famous and outspoken left wingers, he then went on to throw his dummy out the pram over the Salman Rushdie fatwa incident and defected to the right, a massive coup for that side of politics although they wisely kept him at arms length because one thing you could never do with Hitchens is slap a label on him.
Widely known and respected on the political scene, he recently came to attention again with his anti-religion book 'God Is Not Great' where he sets about dismantling the very idea of a Creator.
Even when he was a self confessed Trotskyite he was still not adverse to hammering the left over ideals he disagreed with and that has continued after his switch to the right with attacks on American involvement overseas and the right wing darling Ronald Reagan.
Another episode that bought him to attention was his argument that waterboarding did not constitutes torture but after being persuaded to experience it for himself, he concluded "if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture."
He may have his faults (heavy drinking, arguing with family members, an horrific need to obliterate anyone he argues with) but he is one of the most listenable speakers with clever, intelligent arguments even though they may come from the opposite side of the floor.
The right may lay claim to him even though he aims as many kicks in their direction as the lefts, but that's what is so admirable about him. He doesn't care what he says or who he says it to and i hope that he will go on throwing out his intelligently and well thought out barbs in all directions for many years yet.

10 comments:

Noah "Nog" said...

"he recently came to attention again with his anti-religion book 'God Is Not Great' where he sets about dismantling the very idea of a Creator."I knew a fellow much to the "Religious Right" of me who debated Hitchens a few years back. I saw a video of this debate (which is unfortunately owned by some "Christian" network that doesn't give it out unless you pay an arm and a leg). I have to say that Hitchens got awfully mauled to such an extent that I accused this fellow in neglecting to treat Hitchens with "Christian Charity".

If Hitchens has good arguments against religion, he certainly failed to give any in this particular debate.


I also know a few folks with standing wagers that he'll jump to something like Catholicism within the next couple of decades. Dawkins thinks that the notion of God is absurd; Hitchens, on the other hand, seems angry with God. The latter sort always ends up in the believers camp.

But I suppose you are right, if he ever decides to convert his past positions certainly won't prevent him from it.


-Nog

Cheezy said...

That's interesting that you met him, Lucy? It was at the bar, was it? ;) Seriously though, I imagine he was good company, am I right?

I think 'God Is Not Great' makes a nice companion piece to 'The God Delusion', as it takes a more social/historical angle (as compared to Dawkins's drier, more scientific book).

And I'm not a Hitchens completist, but my favourite piece of writing of his is the superbly concise 'The Trial of Henry Kissinger'.

Lucy said...

Apparently he is calling himself a Jew these days Nog.

Met professionally and actually bumped into him a few times at events although admittedly he didn't remember me until i mentioned Portsmouth then something clicked. He was always either charming and excellent company or sullen and quite tempremental. Always 'on' though which i imagine can get quite tiresome.

Cody Bones said...

What are the chances the Lucyp stands for Lucy Pinder?

Lucy said...

You promised me you wouldn't tell Cody. How do you know about Lucy Pinder anyhow? I had never heard of her until she popped up (and out) on Celebrity Big Brother in the new year.

Cody Bones said...

Anyone who is voted having the "Best breasts in Britain" hits my radar screen

Cheezy said...

They are a marvel. No silicone - hooray!

Another interesting fact about Lucy is that she's coulrophobic... (google it!)

Cheezy said...

That's Lucy Pinder who's coulrophobic, I mean - not the wise and benevolent ruler of this blog :)

Cody Bones said...

I must be coulrophobic too, I guess it's why I was frightened by Daniel.

Cheezy said...

Fair point. Although he was enough to scare normal people too.