The Hitchslap

Got some free time this weekend?

Here’s 15 minutes of Christopher Hitchens at his finest :)

It only gets better toward the end.

  • Danish Atheist

    Hitch does not f*ck around! I love the conversation towards the end, where the christian guy says “I want you to know, that I don’t consider you my enemy..”

    BOY he does not know that he is bringing his bum up in position for a serious paddling!

    Gotta love Hitchens … even when he is not a very friendly atheist :-)

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    I love the way Hitchens speaks. Thanks for posting this! (The first bit is from his speech on Freedom of Expression. I’ve watched that whole speech on youtube, and I would very much recommend watching it.)

  • Anonymous

    Also, Hitchens vs Ramadan, moderated by the great Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times

    Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan Spar Over the Peacefulness of Islam
    http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2010/10/christopher-hitchens-and-tariq-ramadan-spar-over-the-peacefulness-of-islam.html

  • Steve

    Christopher Hitchens is a man I repspect more and more every time I hear him speak.

  • Dan

    1:58 – That prick of a radio interviewer. He’s asks, if God exists, would he not have been good to Chris. To which Chris replies no because then he’d have been under constant supervision, and wouldn’t be able to grow up. The radio interview says “But you have.” And to that, I would say – yes I have, because there’s no God. And a lot Christians have been able to grow up however slightly because they aren’t real Christians who follow the Bible to the last word, which frees them to grow up, to be individuals, to not obey this insane god.

  • http://www.myspace.com/timtationsmusic Tim D.

    Goddamn, Hitch is a badass…did you see the way he tore into that rabbi near the end? Day-um. I thought the guy had him for sure with his little joke, but his response was fuckin’ ace.

    He’s so over-the-top with his aggression that it seems kind of off-putting at first, but once you realize that he’s actually *serious* and he’s put a lot of thought into what he says, you begin to realize he’s actually a formidable ideological force. I have a lot of respect for that — he just keeps on plugging past points where I would have given up out of fear of overstepping my limits. And he makes it look easy.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.net Yet Another Atheist

    I don’t get the whole male circumcision thing. How is that anything like female circumcision, cutting off the clitoris? It’s a bit of loose skin. That’s it. Nothing more. The only analogous situation for a male would be cutting off the entire head of the penis, not a bit of flappy skin. Give me a break.

    Other than that, agree with Hitchens on every single point.

  • Ethanator

    While I find Hitchens amusing and agree with a lot of his points, I’ve always thought of him as the paradigm “unfriendly atheist.” He comes across as exactly what a lot of religious types think atheists are: elitist, dismissive, condescending and smug. I don’t know if he actually IS any of those things, but it sure seems that way when you listen to him. I really wonder if he’s doing more harm than good for atheism. Of course, he’s probably making a lot of points that someone needs to make forcefully and, most importantly, he does the rest of us a favor because we can say, “Hey, at least I’m not Christopher Hitchens!”

  • http://www.myspace.com/timtationsmusic Tim D.

    I don’t get the whole male circumcision thing. How is that anything like female circumcision, cutting off the clitoris? It’s a bit of loose skin. That’s it. Nothing more. The only analogous situation for a male would be cutting off the entire head of the penis, not a bit of flappy skin. Give me a break.

    The degree isn’t really the point…the point is that you’re performing a surgical procedure that has no real medical merit on a child, against their will (at an age where they would be too young to consent *anyway*), for “religious” purposes. You can argue that it’s not “comparable” to female genital mutilation in that sense, but it’s still mutilation and it’s still against the child’s will and serves no real purpose other than to prove something to god.

  • Steve

    Tim’s got it pretty spot on there. It’s a barbaric procedure that serves no purpose.

  • Steve 2

    @Tim
    If you want to see real aggression check out Pat Condell on YouTube. He is absolutely merciless. I don’t agree with his stance in Islam the way he voices it, though he has some valid points there too. But his comments about the Abrahamic religions in general are spot on and absolutely hilarious at times. “Grows faster than clergyman’s penis in a room full of choir boys” may be one of my favorite analogies.

  • Kayla

    Just curious — are all Christians enemies to Christopher Hitchens? Including his brother, who I’ve read is a prominent right-wing Christian in the UK.

    Love Hitch, but I think he’s a little dramatic when he speaks against religious folks. Hoping that he gets well though!

  • Rich Wilson

    Hacking off a girl’s clitoris is rightly viewed as horrific and barbaric, and has been illegal in the US since 1996.

    Hacking off a boy’s prepuce is certainly not the same degree, and happens in sterile controlled circumstances.

    The problem with the latter is that it IS generally socially accepted, and hence viewed as ‘no big deal’. If it was a choice of stopping one or the other, I’d vote for ending FGM in a heartbeat. But why can’t BOTH be stopped?

    only looking at research-based documentation, we find an average 174 boys die each year with the documented cause being circumcision surgery

    http://www.drmomma.org/2010/05/death-from-circumcision.html

    Unfortunately, even mentioning MGM in some online communities will bring forth a deluge of “poor deluded troll whining about his poor fucking foreskin”.

  • Danish Atheist

    While I find Hitchens amusing and agree with a lot of his points, I’ve always thought of him as the paradigm “unfriendly atheist.” He comes across as exactly what a lot of religious types think atheists are: elitist, dismissive, condescending and smug. I don’t know if he actually IS any of those things, but it sure seems that way when you listen to him. I really wonder if he’s doing more harm than good for atheism. Of course, he’s probably making a lot of points that someone needs to make forcefully and, most importantly, he does the rest of us a favor because we can say, “Hey, at least I’m not Christopher Hitchens!”

    I think atheism would be nowhere as big as it is if we were all polite and afraid to hurt religious feelings. We owe a lot to guys like Hitch and Dawkins, in my honest opinion. They shake us awake, maybe not pleasantly, but they sure do make an impression. And like another reader says, Hitch is serious and have thought about what he says.

    About male circumcision – I am no male, but I live in a country where most males are uncircumcized. And what I have read is, that the circumcision makes the head of the male penis grow less sensitive … so in a sexual sense, you actually take away from boys when you remove that “unnecessary” bit of skin.

  • ManaCostly

    I added that one to my favorites a few days ago, you’re late. ;p

    Christepher Hitchens rules!

  • Steve

    I don’t see him as being out of line in any way. He doesn’t attack people personally (and no, he doesn’t call that Rabbi names for example), but mostly attacks religion and believers in general.

    The question is why should religious beliefs be beyond reproach? Why do we need to be polite? Religion is nothing and has done nothing that deserves that kind of respect. It has only put itself on such a pedestal to perpetuate itself and strengthen its grip on mankind. If there were such value and truth in religion, it could easily withstand such attacks. If there were truth in it, that truth would be evident despite any attacks on it. But since there isn’t, it needs special protection.

    It’s also a matter of what people you deal with. There were a few religious people in those debates that were polite and reasonable. They don’t deserve the treatment. You can discuss things with them in a civilized matter and get through to them on some level.
    But many of his opponents there (unless he was speaking by himself) were more or less insane wingnuts. There is no reasonable discourse with them. They are immune to logical and reason, because in the end it’s “But the Bible says…” Politeness will get you nowhere. They deserve every bit of scorn, ridicule and anger that they get.

  • Tony

    Yet another atheist:

    I don’t get the whole male circumcision thing. How is that anything like female circumcision, cutting off the clitoris? It’s a bit of loose skin. That’s it. Nothing more. The only analogous situation for a male would be cutting off the entire head of the penis, not a bit of flappy skin. Give me a break.

    The anatomical equivalent to male circumcision for females is removing the clitoral hood, not the clitoris. Performing a non-therapeutic hoodectomy on a non-consenting female is illegal. Male circumcision should not be exempt from this same focus on the recipient (i.e. victim) first, and whether or not he wants it. That many consider male circumcision to be minor is irrelevant. Ethically, we’ve already declared the equivalent for females off-limits. There is societal hypocrisy.

    As hoodectomy shows, cutting off the clitoris is not the only form of FGM. There are 4 recognized types, and while most of them are far more severe, not all of them are. Yet, all 4 are completely rejected and made illegal (correctly) by western society. As other commenters have stated, male circumcision is still mutilation. Ignoring it because something else is worse ignores the reality of what is done to a healthy, non-consenting child.

  • Lauren

    I wish I could be even half the man that Christopher Hitchens is.. he is brilliant. love love love love love

  • BlueRidgeLady

    There is a lot to be outraged about, so I don’t see a problem with an educated and gifted journalist being an “unfriendly atheist”.
    Why should he worry about stepping on toes when people are murdering and subjugating one another, children are being molested/raped and having parts of their bodies cut off, women are being viewed as second class, etc. (all of it being built into the religious social structure).
    I think Hitchens is sharp as a tack and very, very charming. I’m glad he’s on our side.

  • Ethanator

    I’m glad to see some discussion of my post. I don’t deny that Hitchens says some good things. I also don’t deny that in some cases being impolite is appropriate. But I admit that I was a little surprised to see that he’s so popular on a blog called “friendly atheist”!

    My concern vis-à-vis the social/political side of the atheist/non-religious movement is that religious people will see Hitchens as an asshole and make the (fallacious) inference that he represents atheism rather than understanding that non-religious people are their family members, friends, neighbors, etc. He comes across to us (readers of this blog) as intelligent and witty, but how does he come across to thoughtful religious people who may otherwise be willing to take atheists seriously? I wonder if they will just say, “What an asshole,” and change the channel rather than consider his arguments. Let’s be honest: religion is not going to go away any time soon (at least in the USA) and our best political strategy is probably to deal with reasonable religious people. I honestly don’t know how to deal with completely irrational religious nut-jobs, but I doubt Hitchens does much good against them either.

    My other concern is that Hitchens fuels the media’s appetite for sound-bites and bloated rhetoric rather than rational argument. Sure, Hitchens has some arguments (more than most TV personalities), but a lot of what he says smacks of controversy for controversy’s sake (and rating’s sake). Why do Hitchens, Harris and Dawkins get all the attention, while someone like Dennett (who has better arguments, thinks more deeply, etc.) gets less attention? I think Dennett’s approach of asking difficult, thought-provoking questions is more likely both to help atheists gain respect and to help people questioning their faith to keep questioning. But I’ll admit that maybe the Dennetts of the world need a Hitchens around. He’s just not my cup of tea.

  • Ethanator

    I also think it’s a false dichotomy to suggest that you are either polite and never criticize anybody OR impolite and over-the-top. It’s entirely possible to criticize people and vehemently disagree with them in a polite fashion. I am all for disagreeing with religious people. I think many of their beliefs are false. But you don’t have to be as bombastic as Hitchens to say that. I think religious people are wrong, but I don’t think religious people are stupid or evil just because they disagree with me (although someone may be stupid or evil for other reasons).

  • JustSayin’

    I think we need a multi-pronged approach, and Hitchens and those like him provide a valuable service. I know that for myself, I really dislike confrontation and–for better or worse–usually avoid it, but I delight in hearing people like Hitchens knock these pompous religious types off their pillars of self-importance.

    And Steve?

    The question is why should religious beliefs be beyond reproach? Why do we need to be polite? Religion is nothing and has done nothing that deserves that kind of respect. It has only put itself on such a pedestal to perpetuate itself and strengthen its grip on mankind. If there were such value and truth in religion, it could easily withstand such attacks. If there were truth in it, that truth would be evident despite any attacks on it. But since there isn’t, it needs special protection.

    That is brilliant. I love your reasoning and the concise way you’ve chosen to express it.

  • http://www.ratioprimoris.blogspot.com Tom Rafferty

    Wow, what a tribute to the man. I challenge any theist to watch this and not be changed.

  • http://gmail.com Dustin

    In response to Ethanator, I feel we have every justification for being ,”elitist, dismissive, condescending and smug”, toward the ridiculous super-natural claims and obnoxious behavior of the devout. To do otherwise lends an undeserved credibility.
    That said, I think Hitchens appeals to a different audience than, say, Dennett. Where Dennett uses more gentle persuasion to convince those who are perhaps still ‘on the fence’, so to speak, Hitchens serves more to mobilize and invigorate those who have already come down on the side of freethought. They both have a role to play.

  • June Maxwell

    Long live the Hitch!!

  • ramin

    As someone who believes in God, I must say that I do agree with Hitchens’ criticism of the evils perpetuated in the name of religion. It is clear and self-evident that the religiosity of men who commit evil in the world does not absolve them from the crimes they commit. My disagreement with Hitchens’ philosophy is where he puts the blame. Is religion really at fault or is it the men and women who hurt each other in the name of religion? Of course, as an atheist, you cannot blame a non-entity, ie God, just as it would be irrational to blame the “demon” that commanded David Berkowitz to go on a killing rampage in 1977 in New York City. My point here is not to get into a philosophical quarrel over the existence of God (that would be pointless as neither of us can prove or disprove the existence of a higher power). My point, rather is to suggest that the culprit here is not religion, but rather man’s egotistical identification with religion. After all, we don’t blame Marx for the Communist State. Neither do we blame science for the racist scientific inquiry and deathly experiments conducted on Africans at the beginning of the 20th Century?

    An important question then is what is really at the essence of religion? Can it be encapsulated in the Golden Rule, of “don’t do to others what you would not like them to do to you”? Of course, this runs the chance of being criticized as being too simplistic, but sometimes it is the simple ideas that provide the most effective solutions. This was after all the inspiration behind some of the greatest movements of the 20th Century -India’s independence movement, and the civil rights movement here in the United States. What if the world stopped speaking of high ideals, and instead made a conscious effort to live up to them? What if people stopped identifying themselves with illusionary fantasies, one of which is destroying our world today: that money, social status, and material wealth define us.

    The problem with engaging in a topic like this is the myriad emotional attachments we hold to our particular beliefs. There are many people of religion who make a conscious effort to be the best they can be, to treat others with genuine respect and love, and work to uncover the mines of human potential. Should we take from them that which inspires them? Should we condemn them, just as other religious people condemn the rest of us to eternal damnation?

  • kinneyesq

    Yet Another Athiest says:

    I don’t get the whole male circumcision thing. How is that anything like female circumcision, cutting off the clitoris? It’s a bit of loose skin. That’s it. Nothing more. The only analogous situation for a male would be cutting off the entire head of the penis, not a bit of flappy skin. Give me a break.

    Try sticking your tongue out of your mouth for the rest of your life and discover how insensate it becomes. The result of male circumsision is a loss of sexual feeling. Maimonides said that is its purpose.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    I don’t fully get the male circumcision thing either, but I don’t understand why people insist on linking it with religion. Perhaps it started off as a Jewish custom (not sure) but the vast majority of circumcisions performed in the United States are not done for religious reasons. Jews are approximately 2% of the population, but almost every single male (from my generation at least) has been circumcised. Those people weren’t influenced by rabbis or other religious leaders. Agree or disagree with the decision, but parents here choose to have it done for health/aesthetic reasons, or else simply because it’s what they’re used to seeing.

  • Steve

    @ramin
    I don’t blame god for the evils committed in the name of religion. That would be silly both as an atheist and as a theist.

    I blame the men who run the religions and cults. The bishops, priests, rabbis, ayatollahs, mullahs or whatever they call themselves. Specifically the one in charge of congregations and groups that do cause harm – not all of them. They are the ones who can’t simply be content to just worship. So they use their power and influence to rile up their followers behind their causes, incite violence against people they don’t like, meddle in politics, etc.

    That doesn’t mean religion in itself is blameless. Without religion, they wouldn’t have that power. Take away religion and they couldn’t cause so much harm. In fact, without religion (or at least with a more harmless version of their particular faith) they probably would not want to do those things. Indoctrination is a powerful thing. It shaped their whole lives and world views.

  • ramin

    @Steve
    I agree with the opinion that when religion becomes the source of conflict, it would be better to not have religion. This of course does not mean that religion has always been the source of conflict. To call for the elimination of religion would be to deny it of the many contributions it has bestowed upon humanity. Fairness requires that we look closer, and try to understand both sides of the argument. By emphasizing the veil for instance, contemporary Islam is (quite rightfully) seen to demote the status of women, but historically, Islam elevated their status. It granted women defined rights, outlawed female infanticide, and greatly limited polygamy. Although these things may seem insignificant for the 21st Century man, they were quite radical for that time. It is also interesting to note that historically, Islam was very much concerned with science and philosophy, and it is due to translations from Arabic into Latin that the West was reintroduced to Aristotle. Historians go so far as to argue that the renaissance would not have taken place if it wasn’t for the Islamic world. My point here is that we cannot thrust religion into the wastebasket as a complete and dismal failure in man’s evolutionary journey. This view would be too simplistic and incomplete.

    To better understand religion, it is important to look at the historical milieu in which religion has appeared. It is also important to question the intention of religion. Did they arise to subjugate the masses to become unthinking, self-denying robots? Or did they attempt to elevate human consciousness by questioning the social mores of the times? All of the founders of the major religions challenged the corrupt ecclesiastical orders of the previous religion, and in so doing accepted to be ridiculed and persecuted. Christ appeared over two thousand years ago, addressing the ethical needs of vastly different world than the one we encounter today. The same goes for Mohammed. No wonder their teachings may seem antiquated to us.

    Another appealing argument raised against religion is related to violence and inter-religious conflict. Despite the innumerable killings that have been carried out in the name of religion, it does require quite a bit of creative manipulation of religious texts to justify these actions. Many consider the central theme of Christ’s message to be that of love towards one’s fellow man. The Quran states, “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” Moreover, each of the monotheistic religions validates the divinity of the former (while also speaking out against their corrupt clerical institutions).

    The battle then, I believe, is not against religion, but rather against those who use religion as a destructive force. Man is clearly capable of transforming almost anything to become a source of discord and destruction. Countless die around the world each year as a direct consequence of alcohol consumption. Who should we blame? What should we blame?

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