R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens

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Re: R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:01 am

I generally believe that if you can't say something nice about the recently departed, don't say anything. The fact that Hitchens himself violated that protocol is not sufficennt reason to make an exception, but I may be saying that because I never paid much attention to the man while he was alive so I don'tt have the intense hate for him I probably would if I had known more about him.

I do agree with the referenced article that the week-long funeral for Regan was pretty sickening. It's approprate that harsh words weren't spoken while he laid in state, but CNN and the rest of them might have given equal time to a thoughtful analysis of his presidency once he was finally laid to rest. I think it's a stretch, though, to say that his state funeral changed people's perceptions of him. If anything it may have given the uninformed an impression of him they didn't have before, but anyone who lived through his Presidency ought to know better. It's Reaganomics that led to the mess we're in now and there are no living Republicans who are going to get us out of it.

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Re: R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens

Postby Damien » Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:16 am

He brought discourse down to the level of Ann Coulter and was as despicable as she. I think he well deserves any vitriol he receives.
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Re: R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens

Postby Sabin » Sun Dec 18, 2011 12:23 am

Damien posted
Christopher Hitchens and the protocol for public figure deaths
BY GLENN GREENWALD

UPDATE: The day after Jerry Falwell died, Hitchens went on CNN and scorned what he called “the empty life of this ugly little charlatan,” saying: ”I think it’s a pity there isn’t a hell for him to go to.” As I said, those demanding that Hitchens not be criticized in death are invoking a warped etiquette standard on his behalf that is not only irrational, but is one he himself vigorously rejected.
I don't think Christopher Hitchens would have a single issue with a single negative word said about him. Being that Hitchens was nobody's model for etiquette, I don't think that following in his footsteps and doing so as he did makes one any better. Especially considering that we're not talking about someone like Jerry Falwell but...just someone like Christopher Hitchens. I don't agree with half of what he holds true but his writing on atheism is incredibly brave and the journey towards death must have been incredibly difficult. I don't think he's deserving of all of the vitriol I'm reading here.
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Re: R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens

Postby Damien » Sat Dec 17, 2011 5:10 pm

This article by Glenn Greenwald of Salon eloquently spells out why Hitchens was such an abhorrent person:

http://www.salon.com/2011/12/17/christo ... /#comments
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Re: R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens

Postby Sabin » Sat Dec 17, 2011 2:33 am

edit
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens

Postby Damien » Fri Dec 16, 2011 10:36 pm

Sonic Youth wrote:It's not nice to speak ill of the dead, Damien.



I know, I know, and I almost never do. But he made my skin crawl. A truly hateful -- and self-parodistic -- man.
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Re: R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens

Postby Sonic Youth » Fri Dec 16, 2011 12:51 pm

It's not nice to speak ill of the dead, Damien. But since he himself was more than happy to do so at their own funerals, I'm sure an exception may be allowed.

Speaking of which:

AFP - India's Missionaries of Charity order said it would pray for British writer Christopher Hitchens' soul, despite his aggressive campaign against its Nobel prize-winning founder, Mother Teresa.

"We will pray for him and for his family," spokeswoman Sister Christie told AFP on Friday, upon hearing of Hitchens' death at the age of 62 after a battle against cancer of the oesophagus.


Say what you will about Mother Theresa, but at least her Sisters were against the Iraq war.
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Re: R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens

Postby Damien » Fri Dec 16, 2011 12:40 pm

How perfect that he died the same day the his beloved Iraq war ended.

Good riddance to an insufferable drunken boor. The world is a better place today.
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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R.I.P. Christopher Hitchens

Postby Sonic Youth » Fri Dec 16, 2011 8:59 am

He was a sophist, not an intellectual (which is my nice way of not addressing how unbearable he became in the last 10 years). But when he took your side on an issue, he could be very amusing.

Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011: In Memoriam
By Graydon Carter
Vanity Fair


Christopher Hitchens was a wit, a charmer, and a troublemaker, and to those who knew him well, he was a gift from, dare I say it, God. He died today at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, after a punishing battle with esophageal cancer, the same disease that killed his father.

He was a man of insatiable appetites—for cigarettes, for scotch, for company, for great writing, and, above all, for conversation. That he had an output to equal what he took in was the miracle in the man. You’d be hard-pressed to find a writer who could match the volume of exquisitely crafted columns, essays, articles, and books he produced over the past four decades. He wrote often—constantly, in fact, and right up to the end—and he wrote fast; frequently without the benefit of a second draft or even corrections. I can recall a lunch in 1991, when I was editing The New York Observer, and he and Aimée Bell, his longtime editor, and I got together for a quick bite at a restaurant on Madison, no longer there. Christopher’s copy was due early that afternoon. Pre-lunch canisters of scotch were followed by a couple of glasses of wine during the meal and a similar quantity of post-meal cognac. That was just his intake. After stumbling back to the office, we set him up at a rickety table and with an old Olivetti, and in a symphony of clacking he produced a 1,000-word column of near perfection in under half an hour.

Christopher was one of the first writers I called when I came to Vanity Fair in 1992. Six years before, I had called on him to write for Spy. That offer was ever so politely rejected. The Vanity Fair approach had a fee attached, though, and to my everlasting credit, he accepted and has been writing for the magazine ever since. With the exception of Dominick Dunne (who died in 2009), no writer has been more associated with Vanity Fair. There was no subject too big or too small for Christopher. Over the past two decades he traveled to just about every hot spot you can think of. He’d also subject himself to any manner of humiliation or discomfort in the name of his column. I once sent him out on a mission to break the most niggling laws still on the books in New York City. One such decree forbade riding a bicycle with your feet off the pedals. The photograph that ran with the column, of Christopher sailing a small bike through Central Park with his legs in the air, looked like something out of the Moscow Circus. When he embarked on a cause of self-improvement for a three-part series, he subjected himself to myriad treatments to improve his dental area and other dark regions. At one point I suggested he go to a well-regarded waxing parlor in town for what they indelicately call the “sack, back, and crack.” He struggled to absorb the full meaning of this, but after a few seconds he smiled a nervous smile and said, “In for a penny . . . ”

Christopher was the beau ideal of the public intellectual. You felt as though he was writing to you and to you alone. And as a result many readers felt they knew him. Walking with him down the street in New York or through an airplane terminal was like escorting a movie star through the throngs.

Christopher was brave not just in facing the illness that took him, but brave in words and thought. He did not mind landing outside the cozy cocoon of conventional liberal wisdom, his curious, pro-war stance before the invasion of Iraq being but one example. Friends distanced themselves from him during those unlit days. But he stuck to his guns. After his rather famous 1995 attack on Mother Teresa in these pages, one of our contributing editors, a devout Catholic, came into the office filled with umbrage and announced that he was canceling his subscription. “You can’t cancel it,” I said. “You get the magazine for free!” Years ago, in the midst of the Clinton impeachment uproar, Christopher had a very public dustup with his good friend Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton White House functionary—the dispute was over which part of a conversation between them was or was not on the record. Christopher wound up on television a lot defending himself. He looked like hell, and I suggested we bring him to New York for a bit of a makeover and some R&R away from the cameras. The magazine was pretty flush back then, and we set him up with a new suit, shirts, ties, and such. When someone from the fashion department asked him what size his shoes were, he said he didn’t know—the pair he had on was borrowed.

I could not begin to list the pantheon of public intellectuals and close friends who will mourn his passing, but it would most certainly include Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Richard Dawkins, James Fenton, Christopher Buckley, and Hitchens’s agent, Steve Wasserman. Christopher had his share of lady admirers too, including—but certainly not limited to—Anna Wintour, back when he was young and still relatively fragrant. His wife, Carol, a writer, filmmaker, and legendary hostess, set a high bar in how to handle a flower like Christopher, both when he was healthy and during his last days. An invitation to their vast apartment in the Wyoming on Columbia Road, in Washington, D.C., was a prized reward for being a part of their circle or even on the fringes of it. We used to hold an anti–White House Correspondents party there in the 90s and 2000s; the Salon des Refuses, he called it. You could meet anyone there. From Supreme Court justices to right-wing windbags to, well, Barbra Streisand and other assorted totems of the left. He was a good friend who wished his friends well. And as a result he had a lot of them.

Christopher had an enviable career arc that began with his own brand of fiery journalism at Britain’s New Statesman and then wended its way to America, where he wrote for everyone from The Atlantic and Harper’s to Slate and The New York Times Book Review. And we all called him our own. He was a legend on the speakers’ circuit, and could debate just about anyone on anything. He won umpteen awards—although that was not the sort of thing that fueled his work—and in the last decade he wrote best-sellers, including a memoir, Hitch-22, that finally put some money into his family’s pocket. In the last weeks of his life, he was told that an asteroid had been named after him. He was pleased by the thought, and inasmuch as the word is derived from the Greek, meaning “star-like,” and asteroids are known to be volatile, it is a fitting honor.

To his friends, Christopher will be remembered for his elevated but inclusive humor and for a staggering, almost punishing memory that held up under the most liquid of late-night conditions. And to all of us, his readers, Christopher Hitchens will be remembered for the millions of words he left behind. They are his legacy. And, God love him, it was his will.
"What the hell?"

Win Butler


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