Letter from a Young Contrarian

Letter from a Young Contrarian July 21, 2010

TONIGHT UK viewers can enjoy a screening of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christa movie dubbed ‘The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre’ by one US critic. It’s a film that:

Lovingly and in detail recycles the bloody myth that all Jews are historically and collectively responsible for the murder of Jesus.

Mel Gibson

These are the words of Christopher Hitchens, who, in a Slate piece earlier this week, robustly tore into the “paranoid, racist” Gibson, identifying his latest disgusting, racist outburst against the mother of his youngest child as the product of his upbringing in “a fascist splinter group that believes it is the salvation of the Catholic Church”.
Hitchens has recently been diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus, and has begun chemotherapy. And yet, his work has continued as brilliantly as ever. This is important to me, as the man has been one of the single most significant influences on my life. Most of the nicest things are said about people after they die, but I have no concern for such formalities.
After Hitchens’ diagnosis, I am sure it brought a wry smile to his face to hear that some Christian preachers and other idiots quickly leapt to the offensive, declaring it a “gift” from God.

Is that so? Well, in a style Hitchens might approve of, we might notice that here is a man who has enjoyed a long, productive life, years of wealth and recognition, of book tours, signings and debates, travels around the world, of engagement with the world’s finest minds, of raucous applause and standing ovations, of smoking and drinking at a now legendary pace, and that all the while, the heavens watched with folded arms…
A man of true enlightenment principles, Hitchens illustrates so clearly the distinction between the old and new left; between those who stand with equality, and those who treat as a friend anyone that opposes capitalism (Islamic fascists included). He proved himself willing to turn away from even former friends when they allied themselves with theocratic or totalitarian forces, and in doing so showed the devotion of an ideological and principled mind.
Hitchens prompted me to see that my atheism must be political too. I didn’t believe in any supernatural mind, and yet, those who claimed to know the wishes of such a mind wielded extraordinary power in real and not merely spiritual affairs. This, I realized, had to change. My newly discovered anti-theism inspired my first piece for the Freethinker, written at age 19.
Christopher Hitchens
In his book, Letters to a Young Contrarian, I felt as if I was being addressed directly. The book came at a pivotal moment, inspiring me to dedicate my life to the annihilation of the “mind-forg’d manacles” and the institutions of their construction.
Hitchens showed me that theocracy was the great human evil; that men with a weapon in one hand and a Holy book in the other encompass much of what is debased in thought and action. And he managed it with charm and wit I had never expected to find in theological debate.
Chris “call me Christopher” Hitchens warned me that one must not have heroes, for we are all merely mammals: members of a fearful, semi-rational species with delusions of grandeur. Not without his own unique weaknesses, Hitchens had claimed to have quit smoking, but would sneak away for his fix away from critical eyes.
I am skeptical of his ability to quit even now. Similarly with drink, Hitchens’ personal Christ went by the name of Johnny Walker, and Hitch might just be disciple number one.
I met him only once, in London. I said, “I’m from the Freethinker.” He looked me over and replied, “What? Are you serious? This isn’t some kind of trick?” I did my best not to be offended. He told me that a lifetime of education is worth having, and said with a twinkle in his eye, that if I learn enough, someday someone might ask my opinion.
It is true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. With that in mind, I raise my glass of Black Label to Christopher Hitchens, the badass of atheism, and to his speedy recovery.

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  • Daz

    I just raised a glass of JD. Hope that’s close enough.

  • ZombieHunter

    I’m still absulutely gutted on hearing about Christopher Hitchens having cancer i’ve lost family to that fucking vile disease and I can assure any bible bashing fucknut that it was not a gift from god.
    What I love about Christopher Hitchens is that he is a true independent thinker and it doesn’t matter how unpopular his opinion might be he will voice in a no bullshit fashion and that has been an inspiration to me I mean the guy has the balls to speak the truth about Mother theresa when even many secular minded people praise her and have fallen for one of the best con jobs the catholic church ever pulled, christopher is also a passionate beleiver in freedom of speech thought and expression and is against totalitarianism in any form wether it’s from the left or the right.
    As for that batshit crazy zealot mel gibson, it’s so sad to see what has become of the road warrior (yes I liked the first two mad max movies, number three is also on tv tonight), I sat through that piece of shit movie of his and to be honest was really underwhelmed as a fan of gory/horror movies it just plain sucked and has nothing on any japanese masterpiece such as Ichi the killer, tokyo gore police, versus or my personal all time fave movie Battle royale and at least those movies are fiction and don’t claim to be anything else but fiction so fuck mel gibson and fuck jesus h christ the movie they both suck I’ll be watching land of the dead on Itv for some good ol post apocalyptic zombie action 😛

  • Broadsword

    Gibson has been photoshopped if anyone wants a laugh:
    He’s misbehaving like someone with too much money, spare time and not being told “no” once in a while.
    I had my whisky last night (Grants, straight, out of the freezer) so I’ll say a belated toast to Christopher Hitchens’ health.

  • Vince

    Hitchens’book, “God is not Great – How Religion Poisions Everything” was instrumental in be becoming a Freethinker. I raise a glass of my finest single malt to this gentleman and wish him a quick recovery. I look forward to reading his material for may years to come!!!

  • Janstince

    I raised a glass of Green Label two weekends ago, and I’ll raise another, and another, until he hopefully beats the shit out of that horrible malady. Go Hitch!
    As for Mel Gibson, does anyone really pay attention to that twisted fuckwit anymore?

  • Marcus

    The world would be a much less enlightened and entertaining place without Mr Hitchens. I sincerely hope he pulls through and will be raising the odd one or two to his improving health myself.
    On the subject of the passion of christ, I found the following to be laugh-out-loud funny. Enjoy!

  • Christopher Hitchens….a very fine mind…the messiah of reason….the prophet of the rational…never mind the glass I’ll race the whole case….
    And it will be science that helps Hitch fight cancer….not myth and superstition or men in funny hats.
    As for Gibson…..he should have stopped at Braveheart.

  • gruntled atheist

    A glass of Maker’s Mark to Christopher Hitchens and now I must step outside to smoke.

  • tony e

    Hitchen’s – a true individual in a world full of stupidity and conformity. I’ll raise a glass to his health.

  • Stonyground

    On the subject of Mel Gibson’s passion gore-fest, I wonder how many Christians have, after some reflection, been put onto the path to freedom after seeing it? I would imagine that it is not too far from an actual depiction of the kind of brutality that would have been involved in such executions and this is something that Christians like to celebrate as a thing of beauty. More than anything the Passion brings home the fact that Christianity is actually pretty sick.

  • AngieRS

    I stopped watching that Brit bashing wanker long since. Twat never could act in the first place, bugger knows how he got picked as anything more than a plank.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    That’s what I don’t get, how anyone can venerate a depiction of a human being, being tortured to death in such a gruesome fashion. I find the crucifix obscene.

  • Russell W

    And Gibson was born in the US,not Australia and is, as far as I know still a US citizen.Yes,I know, nobody mentioned nationality,however Oz shouldn’t get the blame,he’s not our fault.

  • Pete H

    All the best to Hitchens, I hadn’t heard the news.
    My Dad died of a similar cancer (stomach/oesophagus) and it’s a bloody nasty one. They’re all nasty, of course, but stomach cancer has one of the worst survival rates, as I recall.
    Really hope he pulls through. Hitchens’ clear, concise, articulate words have been one of the most important voices for rational free thought.
    Good luck fella. And try and give up the gaspers! 😉
    And as for those “good” christian folks who think this is a gift from god – fuck right off. You have the nerve to call us evil and amoral?

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  • Godless not gormless

    Firstly, I agree with everything said about Hitchins. I found God Is Not Great a far more interesting read than The God Delusion and I’ve watched Christopher rip people apart many times on YouTube with his knowledge and wit. Let’s hope he pulls through. It’ll be a double whammy for those sick and stupid religious retards if the Hitch can beat god!!
    Secondly,well done to Vince and one or two others for raising a good single malt instead of all that pretend whisky bullshit!!
    Thirdly, what is it with xtians hating the jews for killing jesus? Wasn’t that the fuckin plan!!! Stay focused you fuckin morons!!!
    Fourthly, Mel Gibson cannot act at all. He has to be one of, if not THE worst actor I’ve ever witnessed!
    @ Dogon
    “As for Gibson…..he should have stopped at Braveheart.”
    I’m Scottish. He should have stopped BEFORE Braveheart!
    @ Angie RS
    “bugger knows how he got picked as anything more than a plank.”
    Maybe he played the part of the cross, though I doubt he’d do a good job of that either

  • Janstince

    Russell W – We’ll keep Gibson, but FFS can’t you take Ken Ham back?

  • Russell W

    Mr Ham is probably very happy there in Bible Belt USA,it would be inhumane to return him to this godless land. I’m not sure which of those nutters is more of a national disgrace,although Gibson is certainly louder.

  • Broga

    @Godless not gormless. I’m Scottish as well and BRAVEHEART makes me cringe. Utter crap and a disgrace to the memory of William Wallace. In fact, it makes me wonder at the gullibility of my compatriots that they actually think this is an inspiring film. It has, of course, Gibson’s usual indulgence in sado masochism when he is being tortured. I didn’t watch much of that Chainsaw Jesus film on TV. Must be my atheism leaves me too tender hearted to watch. The idea that young kids were, and are, herded in to watch this by fundies in the USA is amazing. No wonder they grow up emotionally disturbed.
    Christopher Hitchens – an admirable free spirit. His demolition of Mother Theresa is excellent.

  • ZombieHunter

    @ Broga
    I’m always amazed that fundies won’t let their kids near harry potter but are more than happy for them to see a (substandard) gorefest like passion of the christ.
    I didn’t watch any of it last night mostly cos I watched it once and that was more than enough plus land of the dead was on the other side and had no pretence about being factual plus it had a lot more zombies in it 😛

  • Bob Hughes

    I’ve been aware of Hitchens’ diagnosis for a while and have been lamenting in private, so it’s cathartic to join this thread. The man is a brave, eloquent, erudite hero, distinguished by a fair-mindedness born of intellectual rigour that really does lift his voice above most others, even those “on our side,” as it were. Whatever the subject or his conclusions, he is just a pleasure to listen to as he wields English to its finest effect, emotional or rational.
    When he debated religion and morality on radio with his brother, we stopped the car to enjoy the argument – as edifying as listening to Mozart, Shakespeare, Billy Connolly: all of these distinguished by the beauty and truth (and hilarity – how laughter does separate the factions often involved!) – of what goes on in their heads and comes out of their mouths.
    Someone above mentions YouTube: yes, a Hitchens search is highly recommended. You won’t find a minute (hour, afternoon…) wasted in the pursuit of honesty a la Hitchens. Check out the Mother Teresa iconoclasm, the apologist-swatting – and indeed have a read of the great God Is Not Great.
    As for the usual suspects relishing his state: as ever, they make the point for us. Intolerance and spite from those who claim it from up on their high moral fantasy-ground – graceless bunch of shit-heads! (Although I suspect any nodding, demonstrative “understanding and sympathy” they might adopt could be even more nauseous and transparent.)
    Pardon putting this in the same breath, but, as for The Bashin’ of the Christ: watched it last night… well, made it through the first 90 minutes before switching off. Again. Watched it once already, “in disbelief” from many angles, not least the cinemaphile one. Shite; shite acting ( maybe “posturing” is better – even the gorgeous Monica Bellucci is turned into a turn-off (now there’s a miracle), a solemn prop). Shite direction and editing, bad B-horror shocks imported at every opportunity: the kind of film that gives creature-features a bad name. I actually liked the idea of original language and got quite excited about Italian actors speaking Latin – until I realised that most of their dialogue consisted of “He-he-he, heet heem again!” or “Push-a eum in terram!” et cetera: far more defamatory than any Mafia-flick, you racist stronzo, Gibson! It got to the point where I felt that if he fell over again I’d take a scourge to him myself.
    Anyway. Obscurity and ridicule be upon Gibson and his sordid, sadistic little film. Sordid and sadistic – now what does that really rhyme with in today’s world!
    And, of course, back to sanity. Let’s wish Hitchens as long and continually productive a life as he can manage henceforth – and absolutely celebrate and perpetuate all the magnificent work he’s done to date. He is needed.
    The Pope’s problem with Harry Potter is that he thinks Rowling’s readers are as credulous as his fellow Bible-believers, incidentally. His lot actually think there’s a Heaven; they probably think the kids really think there’s a Hogwarts… maybe the RCs do, too? No less ridiculous or sub-evidential.

  • Godless not gormless

    @ Broga
    Nice to meet a fellow Scot on here. Reading between the lines, I get the impression there are a few others though I might be wrong. Stoneyground? Broadsword? Just from things said and language used in previous posts.
    I’d personally raise a Lagavulin or three to Mr Hitchens.
    Yes, Braveheart is annoying! I’ve been asked to say things like “I’ll crush ye like a worm” because people like to hear the accent. The word Murder is quite popular too (and no, not just with muslims) though I think this can be attributed to Taggart more than Braveheart. This is fine when being asked by an attractive young lady, impressed by the sound of the Scottish voice, and really the only benefit (though it might have helped tourism though so maybe we can’t really complain too much) but the film was certainly crap.
    Regarding fundies and their children, I wish someone in authority would recognise what these people do to their offspring and other children as the child abuse it clearly is. It’s long past time for religion to removed from the curriculum in schools. I’ve been watching a series of videos on YouTube recently called “Why do people laugh at creationists” and the excerpts from creationist videos with their truly CRAZY take on how the world got to be the way they think it is, is scary. These people have children. It shouldn’t be allowed!

  • Ramen to all said about the Hitch. Now I think about it, I too must rush out and down a wee drappie in his honour…
    Caught the last half hour or so of the Jesus Chainsaw Massacre t’other night; glad I didn’t watch the rest of it. Somebody’s a little too fond of Jesus’ Blood, methinks…

  • Broadsword

    @Godless not gormless
    I am a Welshman.
    Don’t beat yourself up over cringeworthy regional stereotypes.
    We all have them.

  • Garlic

    ‘Maybe he played the part of the cross, though I doubt he’d do a good job of that either’
    I laughed aloud at this.
    ‘Thirdly, what is it with xtians hating the jews for killing jesus? Wasn’t that the fuckin plan!!! Stay focused you fuckin morons!!! ‘
    GNG, this anti-Jewish contradiction is one of the holes in the traditional Bible story that my piping little voice pointed out as a small kid, to the distress and rage of nearby adults who did not know how to answer me. I also asked why Judas was so bad if Jesus had to die to save the world. In the Gnostic gospels, it turns out that Judas is regarded as Jesus’s best mate and the only one who understands his message, which supports what I said about this absurd Christ-killer bullsh*t in the first instance. My mother raised no fools.
    By the way, also as a child, I met a mainstream C of E vicar who said that in his view the Holocaust happened because the Jews said ‘on our heads be it’. Not a lunatic fringe nutter, a mainstream bloke preaching in a normal church somewhere. That would make Adolf Hitler an agent of God. Not sure why he needed to gas and do nightmare experiments on my ancestors, the Gypsies, into the bargain, because we never killed anyone’s ‘messiah’, but perhaps we were thrown in for makeweight, huh? God seems like that sort of reasonable guy.
    ‘God is Not Great’ was an inspiration to me which marked a turning point in my life for various personal reasons and got me where I am today. Hitch’s writings for Slate have also kept me entertained when surrounded by dodgy custard-pie and man-in-drag-based South Korean comedy. (Timmy Mallet would be an international star if he’d only tapped into this country’s market). I hope that Hitchens survives this terrible diagnosis and am glad he’s still writing. As for the religious saying this has something to do with God: No, it has something to do with chainsmoking Rothmans, you morons. He may as well have been drinking tar for the past forty-odd years.

  • Stonyground

    Godless and Broga, no I’m not Scottish thanks for asking, I am from rural East Yorkshire. I do like Whisky though, I treat myself on my birthday and at Christmas, I think that it would be bad for me to drink it all year round.

  • ZombieHunter

    I’m scottish grown up in Glasgow all my life and it’s partly because of the secterianism in this city that I’m an atheist (that and other things of course) though I’m going away to the great outdoors weekend to a wee hut in the middle of nowhere and that always does me a world of good 😀

  • Godless not gormless

    Sorry Broadsword. I can’t remember what it was but there were things in some of your posts which made me wonder. How wrong I was!
    Glad you got a laugh but he really is very bad! And yes, this whole anti-jew thing is bizarre isn’t it? Well done for giving them shit as a youngster. You really don’t have to be too mature to see through it do you?!

  • Godless not gormless

    Zombiehunter. Can I ask you, are you a catholic atheist or a proddy one? 😉

  • ZombieHunter

    I was never christened so I’m a straightforward heathen 😛

  • Broadsword

    I am a heathen too and it seems that puts us in the minority here (I think?). As such my knowledge of scripture is limited so I’m unable to produce any well constructed arguments bebunking faith. I doesn’t stop me thinking it a load of cac though, but as I’ve said before, all I can do is turn up and take the piss.