A New Christopher Hitchens Debate Resurfaces on YouTube

It’s good to see a new video featuring Christopher Hitchens :) And thankfully, he’s not a hologram.

Back in 2000, Hitchens debated Catholic League President and blowhard Bill Donohue at the Union League Club in New York City. The topic? Whether the American cultural elite (i.e. the mainstream media) is hostile to religion in general and to Catholicism in particular.

The video is in three parts and lasts a total of about 90 minutes:

(via RDFRS)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Daniel Schealler

    Part 2, 27:25

    Bill completely glosses over Hitchen’s point about condom use and the church’s opposition to it. Ick.

  • Tom_Nightingale

    The vomit bag exchange by Hitchens was brilliant.  Wish I had been there.

  • Librepensadora

    Christopher Hitchens is his usual calm, rational, and hard-hitting self.  His opponent delivers the most vicious personal attack I can remember hearing in any of the several Hitchens debates I have watched online.  He sneeringly refers to him as “Christopher.” I have read his book on Mother Teresa, whom he exposed as a woman who collected money for the poor but then spent none of it to improve their lives.  After all, she told them, suffering makes you like Christ.

  • Collin Boots

    My Jaw dropped to the floor at around 28:00 in part 2.  Donohue says that we would look at smokers asking pushing for a cure for lung cancer “as if they were mad,” making a comparison to the LGBT community encouraging AIDS research.

    Words cannot express

    • Daniel Schealler

      Obviously you’re coming at this from a moral perspective. And you’re right. 

      But it’s weirder than that.Because even if we adopt the selfish/immoral position, Donahue’s position makes no sense.Imagine the profit a pharmaceutical company would stand to make from a cure for lung cancer.They wouldn’t look at the smokers like they were mad. They would look at them like they were a potential market.Which is cold and clinical and heartless, true. I lament the monetization of healthcare as a sadly necessary evil, so don’t mistake what I said above as endorsement.

      But it just goes to how nuts Donahue’s religion has made him: From both a moral and an immoral standpoint he can be viewed as crazy.

  • Matt Mattjwest

    Apparently someone doesn’t know what civil debate is and chose to use ad hominems and a bunch of fallacy arguments to personally attack his opponent.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QOSCDCTNUAV4XT4RFJT27FZ7CQ stocketrader24

    we have come along way since 2000,

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QPVVPRJ7QKLPU6TF5B4IZTENTI No

      Indeed. Hearing BD cite how religious the US was 12 years ago (numbers which are probably fudged upward a bit) was especially smirk-worthy, because the numbers have worsened by a factor of 2 for him since then.

  • http://christgoldman.tumblr.com/ Christ Goldman

    Bill Donohue rejoicing in AIDS deaths is, without reservation, the worst hate speech I can imagine. I never thought Donohue could ever disgust me as much as he just did.

  • Marc Ross Cox

    Do spare your auditory senses the pain of the first 20 minutes. 20: 27 to be precise. So good to hear Christopher again. What a voice, very much missed :)

  • ganner918

    Donohue’s “arguments” can be pretty much summed up as: No one gets to criticize the Church, we’ll do what we want. My opponent is a marxist and a vile individual. Hey, in this hypothetical we’d be victimized!

    Seriously, this isn’t at all even a debate. This is just Donohue trying to run Hitchens through the mud. Nothing but ad hominem. And wanna-be-victimhood.

    • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

      That was exactly my reaction. Donohue hardly argued for the affirmative at all.

  • Amy

    Close to twenty minutes into the debate, Donohue was extremely vicious and rude towards Hitchens, and the audience was laughing and clapping. I noticed this debate was uploaded by The Catholic League- they should be ashamed of themselves for Donohue’s very rude composure.

    • http://CoffeeShopAtheist.com/blog Patrick

      My favorite point was when Donohue held up his book as a scholarly work and the audience laughed at him.

  • Sailor

    I guessed Donahue was a dick, but I never realized till watching this video, the incredible, monumental levels he takes his dickishness to. The audience who clearly supported him should be deeply ashamed, especially on their response to his callous remarks about aids and about gays.

  • http://twitter.com/TweetThatSheet Daniel Brown

    What a bullshit opening! I mean, it makes sense seeing a this is put together by a Catholic institution.

    Under “TRUTH” they show a Church statue first. Under “THEORY” they show the evolution image of ape to man first.

    Under “LIFE” they show a fetus, I presume an argument for life at conception.

    Under “GOOD” they show JUST a pope. Under “BAD” they show JUST Stalin, an example often used to criticize atheist movements. Under “LOVE” they show Mother Theresa. Under “FREEDOM” a picture of a Church. And of course under “SACRIFICE” it’s a shot of Jesus carrying his cross.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QPVVPRJ7QKLPU6TF5B4IZTENTI No

    As if it wasn’t obvious from his TV appearances, BD is the absolute worst sort of troll, and he is obviously a very angry person. Just taking his opening arguments – which weren’t so much arguments as a consolidated bitch fest replete with only the slightest of pauses between thoughts so he could keep himself from asphyxiating – he comes off as an absolute bully who has never learned to be anything but. Hitchens hasn’t even uttered a sound yet, and it’s as if CH forcibly entered Donohue’s house, despoiled all his Catholic paraphernalia, and left, door flapping in the breeze. 

    BD talks as if Catholicism was a racial identity, and one that has been under constant attack since the dawn of humanity. Get a load of him; he’s a caricature of soapbox political speeches from the late 19th/early 20th century. What a lap dog for the Vatican he is. He even casts the Catholic Church as the greatest example of virtue the world has ever seen. Mind us this debate was before the priest sex abuse scandal blew open a mere couple years later, and which is still moving along a decade later. BD really is unbelievable as a human being.

    This was probably the single least productive debate I’ve ever seen CH participate in, no thanks to BD, who apparently thought it was his divine call to attempt to dress CH down for 70 minutes over sectarian issues. the whole affair was “how dare you call us out for anything, asswipe!” I’ve never seen someone be so non-cordial to CH in a debate setting like this. Galloway, maybe…?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chatzkaleh Chatzkaleh Kofer

    You can see Hitchens was just starting to become a great debater.

  • Alf

    As soon as a person starts making personal attacks – their argument loses all credibility.

    Donohue is entitled to his views, but his manner toward Hitchen’s was profoundly disrespectful and rude. This was apparent from the very beginning.

    I have heard many people debate Hitchen’s, but none having resorted to this level of hostility.

    In summary, Hitchens dismantled his arguments with pure logic and facts.

  • KT

    It’s PAINFUL to hear all the idiots clap and hoot at the most offensive statements of the evening….-sigh-

  • litesp33d

    Childhood indoctrination plus decades of reinforcement have meant Donohue is more or less incapable of seeing anything else. Anger is caused by fear. The fear comes from the emotional triggers that have been put in place by that indoctrination. These people are profoundly mentally ill suffering from quite serious childhood psychological trauma masked as a benificent religion. They are to be pitied as one would any mentally ill person. But watch out. Just because there are millions if not billions of them only makes their delusion seem more real to them. Darel Ray covers a lot of this is his book the God Virus.

    Their anger is a symptom of their fear because they suspect what they believe is not true and the angrier they are the less likely is their adult belief but the childhood indoctrination over rules the adult. Moreover they have seen what happens to back sliders in their utter angry rejection by the community and they do not want that to happen to them because after being so involved for so long they further fear there is nowhere for them to go. And being alone is a greater fear. So they shout loudest to prove they do believe in the hope that if and when the beast turns it will take them last.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X