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AlexReynard

Hitchens 1949-2011

Christopher Hitchens was one of the best people in the world.

I say that not because I agreed with him on so many topics, though I did. In fact, I disagreed with him strongly sometimes. But almost every time that happened, I could respect and understand his viewpoint. He was consistent. He didn't hold beliefs because they were what he wanted to believe; he held them because, to the best of his knowledge, that's where the evidence pointed. He understood that truth is more important than we are. It exists apart from us and our petty prejudices. Truth doesn't care what we think.

He was not only passionate about truth, but he showed clearly with his actions that he held it in greater esteem than politeness. This is a virtue which is inexcusably rare these days.

Christopher Hitchens didn't care if you liked him. He didn't care if you hated him. In fact, I'm sure the hatred of certain people gave him supreme satisfaction. If you misspoke around him, he would correct you. If you outright lied, he would crucify you. He had the courage to call a liar a liar, something that can't be said of virtually any other journalist I know of. If your viewpoint wasn't worthy of respect, he didn't give it any. If your beliefs contributed to human ignorance and suffering, he would tear them to bloody shreds. He understood that the comfort of a lie is not worth the hindrance of our species. He meant it when he said that religion poisons everything. Because the core of religion is the idea that it is acceptable, even virtuous, to ignore reality if you prefer a fantasy instead. He believed that this fundamental glorification of dishonesty was a cancer on human progress. I agree. Dishonesty is a toxic soil that nothing good can grow from. Nothing. If telling the truth about your illusions pissed you off, Hitchens didn't care. He cared more for the future of humanity than the feelings of individual men. I would call that heroic.

Hitchens drank and smoked and fought. He knew damn well his lifestyle would lead to an early grave, and he didn't care. He considered it a fair trade-off. The quality of his days mattered more to him than their total number. But in leaving us all here, after 62 short years, we're a poorer race without him. We needed him. The New Atheism needed him. It needs soft-spoken, intelligent persuaders like Dawkins and Harris too. Absolutely. But in order for people like them to discuss atheism openly, someone needed to get the conversation started in the first place. Throughout human history, the status quo has oppressed many groups of people. These people did not gain empowerment by politely asking for it. Someone had to have enough balls to stand up and demand it. Before any revolutionary idea can be discussed, first it must make itself heard. Hitchens knew how to scream his lungs out in a calm, soft, devastating voice. Love him or hate him, he got people talking.

If you agreed with him, he gave you new ideas, quotes to remember, and a renewed faith that the battle against ignorance is winnable. Even if you disagreed, he never made it easy on you. He forced you to think.

He made me a smarter person, just from listening to him. That's one of the highest compliments I can possibly give.

He was someone to aspire to. Watching him speak off the cuff on political and historical matters, I realized I was watching a man that I could never hope to be smarter than. And that was wonderful. I'm not saying we should all act like him. He was definitely a bit of a prick. But if we had his same undying passion for truth, his same refusal to give respect where none had been earned, his same relentlessness in confronting cruelty and dishonesty in any form... we would all be better off.

I hate this world a little more today, for the fact that it took Hitchens. It's because of people like him (and Carlin, and Zappa, and Hicks...) that I hope medical science will one day spit in the eye of death and find a way to keep people alive until they choose their own end in their own time.

Maybe (despite all the evidence in the world) the Christians are right, and Christopher Hitchens is standing in judgment before Almighty God right now.

If so, I have no doubt that Hitch will look him in the eye and curse him to his face, unafraid of the consequences.

Hitchens' life was a monument to defiance in the face of evil.

We should all be so fearless.





EDIT: I hate the goddamn world.

Christopher Hitchens dies, then two days later, Kim Jong Il kicks the bucket too. Two Days Later!!! Come on, universe! You couldn't have given Hitch TWO MORE FUCKING DAYS so he could have seen that and died happy!? He would have been on his deathbed, relieved that, if he had to go, at least one of the worst people in the world was no longer in it too. He could have slipped out of this life with a smile on his face. But, no.

Existence, you are a fucking DICK.

The only thing that would make me not hate you anymore is if somehow I find out later that you allowed Hitchens' ghost to murder that Asian midget psychopath. That'd be cool.
Viewed: 144 times
Added: 6 years, 12 months ago
 
Tivmic
6 years, 12 months ago
Thank you Alex. This is the first news I've heard of Christopher's death, and the source softens the blow a tiny bit. Frankly, I'm devastated... even though it's been plain for years simply from his appearance that he wasn't going to last much longer.

I feel so fortunate that he opted to become an American. It's one of the few things I can think of in connection with the recent history of our country to be proud of. We need a million more like him... and we won't have them. I feel empty.
FoxxieKun
6 years, 12 months ago
I agree with you completely. Humanity has lost a valuable asset, and I hope those who truly wish to aspire to truth on the same level the late Hitchins did never stray from their dedication to reality, and never succumb to the veiled fear-mongering of those whom prefer an idealistic fantasy over improving the reality piece by bloody piece.

Whatever happens after we die, I feel enlightened to know that there are people, however few, like Christopher in this world to give us all a good slap in the face and call us out on being hypocrites, assholes, or just all around deluded pricks (Whichever may apply).

Farewell, Hitch. You leave behind this wretched world, and I for one shall strive to improve it for those who come after we are gone.
Humbug
6 years, 12 months ago
Yeah, I can pretty much dig this assessment of him. Bravo. :)
Stumpycoon
6 years, 12 months ago
Well said.
chaosblackwing
6 years, 12 months ago
Damn, now that is one heck of a loss, Hitchens was a great guy from what little I saw of him in videos and whatnot. Can't say it's much of a surprise honestly, given that I saw a recentish vid of him talking about his medical problems, though it's still sad to hear he finally died.
justacritic
6 years, 12 months ago
Quite nice, it takes a brave person in this world of lies to use truth without any politeness.
Sadly truth and politeness are the two edges of my sword. I'm not strong enough to use only truth as a biting edge
shadycat
6 years, 12 months ago
Well done. The world is indeed a poorer place without the Hitch. We will not see his like again. I'll never forget his quote, on live tv, on the passing of Jerry Falwell. "If you gave him an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox." Classic Hitch.
mchollis89
6 years, 12 months ago
He sounds like someone I would have really liked. I feel bad for not hearing of him before. :< May he rest in peace and may we find a suitable successor for his crusade for the truth. u.u
LandonFox
6 years, 11 months ago
In all honesty, I didn't really think highly of the man.  Athiest or no, he was a neo-conservative and a war-hawk.  The track record of such beliefs is abysmal.

People are emotional creatures, not rational ones.  Politics and religion are based more on emotion and personality than logical thought.  You start with the position you want to be in and then construct the logical framework based on that.  So while logic is absolutely necessary to making a system work, it is only a tool, not an end product to be revered in and of itself....  at least when it comes to political or religious views.

Being an asshole for social justice isn't exactly like screwing for virginity, but it's pretty close.  The personality that drives you to be an asshole will eventually drive you to commit social injustice once you are in power.

Short version:  Just because someone can point to Kim Jong Il and say he's evil doesn't mean they are good.
AlexReynard
6 years, 11 months ago
>In all honesty, I didn't really think highly of the man.  Athiest or no, he was a neo-conservative and a war-hawk.  The track record of such beliefs is abysmal.

I'm going to have to strongly disagree. Hitchens did not strike me as a man who'd be comfortable aligning himself completely with any single political party/ideology/ism/etc. It remember being rather alarmed to realize that I was on the same side as a *lot* of conservatives in thinking that Imam Rauf, the man behind the "Ground Zero mosque" wasn't being honest about his motives.

But the difference is in HOW we came to that belief. And it's the same thing with Hitchens and the Iraq war. Plenty of people supported the war out of blind patriotism. Hitchens looked at the situation and, based on his own observations, made a decision about it. I admire someone who will stand by a belief that will make them unpopular among their usual group of fans. And yeah, I disagree with him about the war. Yet from everything I've heard him say about it, he can explain exactly WHY he believes the way he does. (Try asking a Tea Partyer to do the same.) And he has admitted that he suppored the idea of removing Saddam, but didn't support a lot of things about how it was done. Someone capable of nuance like that is not blindly thinking along party lines.

If nothing else, his overwhelming support of homosexual rights and birth control would not have sat well with actual neocons.

>You start with the position you want to be in and then construct the logical framework based on that.

There's literally only one instance I can think of where something Hitchens said felt like that to me, and it was on an issue that had nothing to do with atheism or politics.

>Short version:  Just because someone can point to Kim Jong Il and say he's evil doesn't mean they are good.

True. But I don't care whether or not Hitchens was a good person. He was probably an amazingly irritating man to be around. What I care about is the fact that he said what other people were afraid to say. If no one else is willing to call something evil, and yet it demonstrably is, then we NEED someone to push past all the social rules and call evil by its name. I remember Ayaan Hirsi Ali doing a whole speech about the necessity of that.

I'm glad our side, the side of reason, had Hitches. I'm glad we still have Penn & Teller and TheAmazingAtheist. The other side has Rush and O'Reiley and Beck and Coulter. And they're winning. They're winning by lying and manipulation, and our side won't call them out on it. We're like a boxer who won't tell the ref his opponent has a horseshoe in his glove, because that wouldn't be polite. The assholes are winning only because we allow them to win. We do not challenge them.

BTW, Wolfblade did a whole journal recently about how our society is okay with people who are assholes to others for no reason, but think it's wrong for people to be an asshole to those assholes.
LandonFox
6 years, 11 months ago
I think most of your reply is based on this reasoning:

"I'm glad our side, the side of reason..."

Reason and logic are tools, not ends.  Saying you're on the side of reason is like saying you're on the side of hammers and can't stand the idea of using wrenches.  It's fine to say that if you're trying to nail something.  If you're trying to bolt something down, not so much.

Penn, Teller, Limbaugh, and O'Reilly all draw information from the same resources, such as the CATO institute.  They are all heavily pro-corporation and anti-government.  They draw on the same mentality and conceptual framework.  In all the big-picture ideas that matter, there is no difference between them.  This sounds crazy if you're only looking at the use of logic, but ask yourself this:

After Penn and Teller finish talking about the evils of discrimination based on skin color, would they be for or against a government regulation forcing businesses to serve black people?  Or would they be for using the invisible-hand of the free market to fix the problem, by having business people lose business from their racism and thus fail against their non-racist competitors?  Actually, I think they'd probably make the point that such a government regulation would have the opposite effect since it interfered with the natural course of capitalism, just look at affirmative action!

Second question, didn't we already have that during segregation?  How did that work out?
LandonFox
6 years, 11 months ago
Now then, I do agree with your comments that Hitchens is not a single ideology person.  People who think rarely fit perfectly with any one party or ideology.  The disconnect between theory and practice always means that every theory has flaws.  What I mean when I say that he was a neo-conservative is that it was the dominate ideology.

Let's take Penn and Teller again.  What is one of the over-riding motivations behind Penn and Teller?  They believe in social hierarchy, that is that there are certain people who are inherently better than other people and that they should be given a place larger in the hierarchy.  And there is justification for this.  A scientist who invents a new crop that feeds millions SHOULD be given the accolades they deserved.  Secondly, they also believe that every person should be given a shot to ascend the social hierarchy.  If you can prove to society that you are worthy, you should be given the respect you deserve.  Afterall, if you are that scientist that invented the new crop, who cares if you are white or black?  All we should care about is that you did something awesome.

So what about a racist business owner?

This is a situation where those two stated values are directly in conflict.  The business own has shown entrepreneurial skill, thus he is higher in the social hierarchy.  But his actions are directly impacting the ability of black people to get the same access as white people.  Where you would normally be able to have both values, this is a case where it's one or the other.  Pick one.  

Penn and Teller will call bullshit on the racism.  They will explain just how morally wrong racism is.  They will call him out as the asshole he is.

But they won't stop him.

The social hierarchy value is more important.  So in the end, they'll say that free market will fix things.  Black people could organize a boycott if they really wanted.  etc, etc.

That's the dominate motivation.  When I say Hitchens was a neo-conservative, I am saying it was his dominate motivation.  He may have liked peace and civil rights...  but when push came to shove and he had to choose, he ended up choosing war and social hierarchy.

Now if you still disagree, then it is quite possible that I have given Hitchens the short-shift.  Being publicly pro-war after they declared there were no WMD was a very fast way to get on my shit-list.  I may have overreacted.  Or maybe I heard old speeches from him and didn't realize that they were years old.  I'm open to this possibility, so if an example comes to the top of you head, please share.

Oh, and one last thing.  I used to believe it was very necessary to call out assholes.  Then I watched OWS do in ten weeks what ten years of publicly being assholes to assholes could not do.  It's one thing to call an asshole an asshole.  It's another to get the asshole to prove it to everyone with public displays of viciousness and arrogance.
AlexReynard
6 years, 11 months ago
Sorry this took so long to reply to. Frankly, I consider you one of the smartest people I have ever met. So arguing with you is a daunting challenge. I feel like I've really gotta bring my A game and make sure my responses are as well thought out as I can make them. (Also, Christmas happened.)

>Saying you're on the side of reason is like saying you're on the side of hammers and can't stand the idea of using wrenches.

On the other hand, if a significant portion of people believe that the best way to pound in a nail is to use a live kitten, advocating hammers can become necessary. Like Orwell said, "We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men." Hopefully in the future, we won't need for people to have to stand up and defend atheism and critical thinking. But we do now.

The reason there are so many bullies in our culture now is because we have this self-destroying PC idea that 'everyone's entitled to their opinion'. Well, no. Not if you're spouting outright lies or unprovoked attacks. This should not be acceptable. But that's pretty much entirely what the Republican party leadership has become. When they do something heinous, they get away with it, and they realize they can probably get away with worse next time. I watch the news, and it sickens me how much the anchors never challenge anything anyone says. But when Hitchens goes toe-to-toe with people who use dishonesty and dishonor to shut up their opponents, and he throws it right back in their faces, suddenly he's a villain. Because the real villains whine and cry whenever someone stands up to them, as bullies always do, and we as a culture treat their whining as valid. "When I insult the guests who come on my show, it's journalism. When one of my guests does it to me, it's a shameful personal attack and proof of how much American values have eroded."

>Penn, Teller, Limbaugh, and O'Reilly...are all heavily pro-corporation and anti-government.  They draw on the same mentality and conceptual framework.

That may all be true. But personally, I don't think someone's framework matters as much as their actions. What's the difference between P&T, Limbaugh and Hitchens? They're all entertainers. They're all confrontative. They've all written books and gone on the air preaching their viewpoints. And they probably share a few of those viewpoints.

So what's the difference? Limbaugh is full of shit and comfortable with it. I usually first think of his hypocrisy about how drug abusers ought to be locked up ....but not him! Penn, Teller and Hitchens have all made it clear that they value honesty, personal honor, and an open exchange of ideas. They would not knowingly lie to advance themselves, because they know it is wrong.

This, to me, is one of the most important aspects of someone's character. I honestly don't care if Hitchens was a neoconservative. I don't care that P&T hold some wacky-ass ideas about capitalism. I can admire Carlin and Hicks and Zappa, and also point out times when I thought they were all *completely* fucking wrong. There's something I dislike about every single friend I have, but that doesn't end our friendship. There is going to be a dark side to everyone we've ever respected or love. To me, the only important thing is whether or not it overwhelms the good side.

The problem with current neocons is that most of them are rapaciously devoted to power at any cost. The problem with current libertarians is that they embrace the free-market jive while ignoring the 'personal liberty' half of their ideology. If a neocon or a libertarian does not conduct themselves in this manner, I do not have a problem with them. Same as I don't have a problem with a Christian or a Muslim who doesn't believe that their personal faith trumps other people's rights or science.
AlexReynard
6 years, 11 months ago
>Afterall, if you are that scientist that invented the new crop, who cares if you are white or black?  All we should care about is that you did something awesome.

All of this, I wholly agree with.

>Penn and Teller will call bullshit on the racism.  They will explain just how morally wrong racism is.  They will call him out as the asshole he is. But they won't stop him.

Frankly, I wouldn't either.

I've thought about this a lot. For me, it has nothing to do with social heirarchy. I think the government, which is supposed to serve all citizens, must not be discriminatory in any way. However, I don't want the government to make a law that says private citizens can't be racist. I value the right to free speech enough that I want racist idiots to be able to say or think anything they want. Because if we ban their ideas, any offensive idea can then be banned too. So, I don't want the cops to arrest someone because they refuse to be friends with someone of a different skin color. Similarly, I think that should apply to business owners. I think that if corporations are going to call themselves people, they ought to be subject to the exact same rights and laws as people. They should have the right to refuse service to anyone, just as I have the right to say 'no' to anyone asking me for a commission. If a store refuses service to blacks, then citizens and other businessess should have the right to retaliate with boycotts, protests, etc. On the other hand, if a business is polluting, harming people, allowing sexual harassment, etc., they should be prosecuted for that, just like an individual would, because it's causing definite harm.

In general, I think we need far less laws, and that most of them should regulate business. A corporation has a far greater capacity to cause harm than a single person. But when it comes to how they conduct business, I think they deserve the same right as me to be offensive bastards. This is one very specific issue where I think the free market should handle things. Not because I have ANY faith in the idea that a free market system will lead to moral behavior. Purely because I believe in consistent application of laws and rights.

>When I say Hitchens was a neo-conservative, I am saying it was his dominate motivation.  He may have liked peace and civil rights...  but when push came to shove and he had to choose, he ended up choosing war and social hierarchy.

I still don't think that was his *dominate* motivation. When Hitchens had views shared by people with bad ideologies, it's not a guarantee that the beliefs come from the same place, or that they both want the same implementation of those beliefs. Same as me thinking businesses should be allowed to be racist, but not for the same reasons a libertarian would believe that.

>Being publicly pro-war after they declared there were no WMD was a very fast way to get on my shit-list.

I had the same reaction at first. But I gave his reasons a listen out of fairness, and realized I couldn't easily dismiss them.

Essentially, WMDs never factored into Hitchens' decision at all. For most Americans, being pro or anti Iraq war was often based around the idea of whether or not Saddam was a threat to us. For Hitchens, it was about Saddam being a threat to his own people and the rest of the reigion. Hitchens has travelled to a lot of shithole countries and seen how people there live. Essentially, he thought that the Iraq war was necessary to correct the mistake of the Gulf war. We had a chance to stop a man who was murdering his own people, and instead we left, letting him keep on murdering people for decades more.

Also, I'd thought, like a lot of people, that al Quaida wasn't in Iraq until we invaded. Hitchens says they had a HQ in Baghdad long before that. If that's true, it's kind of important. [cont.]
AlexReynard
6 years, 11 months ago
From everything I've heard, Hitchens supported an Iraq war that *should* have been, not the one we got. He wanted a war to remove a bloodthirsty dictator from power; not a messy occupation led by a lying, incompetent bastard who cared only about his own approval ratings.

BTW, I'm still not saying that I completely agree with him about the war. Just that he came to his conclusions fairly. I can follow them, and respect them.

>Oh, and one last thing.  I used to believe it was very necessary to call out assholes.  Then I watched OWS do in ten weeks what ten years of publicly being assholes to assholes could not do.  It's one thing to call an asshole an asshole.  It's another to get the asshole to prove it to everyone with public displays of viciousness and arrogance.

I think you may have just proved my point. Would we have seen such disgusting contempt for the working class, or so many abuses of police power, if the protesters hadn't stood up and made themselves targets? I don't advocate fighting bullies just for the satisfaction. That's part of it, sure. But when I spend weeks in a flamewar with some ignorant cretin, I usually know pretty early on that I cannot convince him I'm right. So why do it? Because there are people watching. Dozens of times, I have argued with someone who started out sounding reasonable, but it was simply a mask for blind ideology, and they eventually descended to insults and threats. Their true selves would never have been exposed without me coaxing it out.

Often, the way to victory is to set up a battle where, by attacking you, your enemy defeats themselves.
LandonFox
6 years, 11 months ago
Thanks for the compliments.  You're not half bad yourself.

I tried your "wait a bit to think on it" strategy.  I just ended up playing games.  ;3  On the plus side, not thinking about it for a while may help me get more perspective.

> On the other hand, if a significant portion of people believe that the best way to pound in a nail is to use a live kitten, advocating hammers can become necessary.

Fair enough.  I'll agree to this.  When I am thinking using emotion as a tool, I am referring to people who are reasonable and have basic logic as well.  I'm just leery of pure logic because that's what my job basically is... Logic has its share of flaws.  That's why I am distrustful of people from non-logical backgrounds backing pure logic.  Be careful what you wish for...

> The reason there are so many bullies in our culture now is because we have this self-destroying PC idea that 'everyone's entitled to their opinion'.   Well, no. Not if you're spouting outright lies or unprovoked attacks.

How do you get from "entitled to having an opinion" to "My opinion is you need to be hurt = socially valid"?  Having an opinion and being an asshole are two separate things.  You can support the former and not support the latter.  You do that by...  ah yes!  By challenging those who have such opinions in fair and open verbal battle.  Very good.

However, we need better way of expressing this.  Assholes need to be challenged, but I don't think opinions are to blame.

>  I value the right to free speech enough that I want racist idiots to be able to say or think anything they want. Because if we ban their ideas, any offensive idea can then be banned too. So, I don't want the cops to arrest someone because they refuse to be friends with someone of a different skin color.

I have to admit, I was a bit gobsmacked by this.  Then I reread what I wrote and realized I did not make it entirely clear what I was saying.  I am not referring to some /b/ idiot putting black face on a picture.  I am referring to the problems we had in our history.  To give a recap for people who don't know better, we had this thing back in the sixties called "segregation".  It was also known as "seperate but equal".  This "equality" worked out something like this:

http://blog.ericharmatz.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04...

We all knew it wasn't equal and blacks could be denied pretty much anything, including service, employment, and the vote.  And back in the thirties, people would murder black people, have pictures taken of them celebrating it, post it publicly, and walk free.  If you've got the stomach, here's one such photo:

http://yeyeolade.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/white-lyn...

So when I was talking about a racist business owner, I wasn't talking about someone who didn't like his black employees.  I'm talking about someone who would actively refuse to hire black employees even if they are more qualified than white employees.  And if he was only a middle level manager, he would go out of his way to harass black people while giving white people a pass.  

The libertarian argument is that they can just go work elsewhere.   Saying they could go somewhere else is like saying you can use a different bank if your current one is raping you with interest rates.  That only works when they aren't all doing the exact same thing, and that was the problem with segregation.  What do you do when everyone is racist?

Of course, you already said that companies should be prosecuted for sexual harassment.  I'm pretty sure you would agree the same goes for harassment based on skin color as well.
AlexReynard
6 years, 11 months ago
>Thanks for the compliments. You're not half bad yourself.

Awwww. <Shuffles feet> This time, it took me a while to reply more out of busyness than anything. I did want to reply sooner. :/

>When I am thinking using emotion as a tool, I am referring to people who are reasonable and have basic logic as well. I'm just leery of pure logic because that's what my job basically is... Logic has its share of flaws. That's why I am distrustful of people from non-logical backgrounds backing pure logic. Be careful what you wish for...

I think reason and logic differ, at least in how I define them personally. Logic's useful, but it's cold. (Ever seen the movie I, Robot? Neville's reason for why he hates robots is a surprisingly brilliant illustration of this.) Reason seems like simply 'having a reason for your actions/beliefs'. As opposed to thinking a certain way because someone told you to, or out of fear. Those aren't really reasons, they're more like reactions.

>How do you get from "entitled to having an opinion" to "My opinion is you need to be hurt = socially valid"?

Sorry; I was using "everyone's enttled to their opinion" in the current, twisted useage. (Like how 'sex offender' now pretty much means 'child molester' to most people). Sure, everyone *does* have a right to their opinion. But people have applied that idea to people *acting* on their opinions. People are using 'EETTO' to defend people who act like bullies, so the phrase has become corrupted. It needs to be reigned back in. We all have a right to our thoughts, but not to attack people with them.

>I have to admit, I was a bit gobsmacked by this...I am not referring to some /b/ idiot putting black face on a picture. I am referring to the problems we had in our history. To give a recap for people who don't know better, we had this thing back in the sixties called "segregation".
>So when I was talking about a racist business owner, I wasn't talking about someone who didn't like his black employees. I'm talking about someone who would actively refuse to hire black employees even if they are more qualified than white employees. And if he was only a middle level manager, he would go out of his way to harass black people while giving white people a pass.

I totally got that. My answer is that I know it's not the sixties anymore. By now, we've progressed to the point where racism is so near-universally hated by society that we probably *can* trust the free market to handle it. During segregation, businesses could get away with it. Nowadays, if word got out about a company doing the same thing, they'd be BURIED in protests. Being publicly called a racist is just one step below being called a kiddie-diddler.

>The libertarian argument is that they can just go work elsewhere...That only works when they aren't all doing the exact same thing, and that was the problem with segregation. What do you do when everyone is racist?

Thankfully, that's not the case now. But even when it is, that's still not my point. I think a business owner should be allowed to refuse service to anyone if they're honest about it, and if that's as far as it goes. This does not apply to harassment of certain people, or the kinda bullshit where banks (for instance) will let blacks through the door and treat them politely, but they already know there's no way they'll be getting a loan.
AlexReynard
6 years, 11 months ago
>These two lines aren't entirely against each other, but they're getting close. The difference is the degree to which we can tolerate something. 4chan racism vs Sixties racism? Where does the line get drawn?

Private and institutionalized, that's the difference. 4channers are dicking around and (mostly) not serious. More to the point, they're not DOING anything but talking. (In fact, I've seen them raid the hell out of actual racists.) And even if they do say a lot of horrible shit, they're not actually prohibiting anyone from the site. 4chan's deal is 'We want the freedom to talk about ANYTHING, with absolutely no societal taboos'. Actual racism has a delibarate agenda to prevent certain people from doing things.

Plus, there's still the difference between the actions of individuals vs corporations/governments, and the difference between speech and action.

>Okay, then what about Ron Paul? He's in the same ballpark politically as Penn and Teller. He is on the record saying he would have voted against ending segregation, and the reason he gives is the same one given by "free market" Libertarians.

The problem with Ron Paul is that he's dishonest. If he was actually a Libertarian, he could not possibly be against gay marriage and abortion, but he has to be against them if he wants to run as a Republican, which he transparently isn't, but it'll get him more votes than if he ran as a third party candidate. That's a bullshit layer cake.

>Thus, when I see someone who should be respectable (like Hitchens) support something I don't like (say the war), then I assume there is a mental framework problem somewhere with either him or myself.

In situations like that, I tend to assume that, if the framework is solid in most other places, that maybe they're exposed to different information. If I'm suddenly in disagreement with someone i normally agreewith or respect, my first instinct is wanting to know why. I want to see their explanation of why they believe that way. It's possible that I'm wrong because they've got information that I don't. Or that they're wrong because they're working off bad or out-of-date info.

>I was going to use you as an example, but I wasn't sure if you'd like to be called respectable. ;3

That's really interesting... I am _honestly_ not sure if I would or not! ;)

>That was my point. They weren't "fighting" as much as they were making themselves targets and daring the other side to attack. There's a difference. It's the difference between calling someone on there bullshit and getting him to act that way in front of a camera.

I think Hitchens did that in his own way. By agreeing to debate pretty much anyone, and being someone who it was so easy to hate yet so hard to argue with, he got people to speak things they might not have said in front of an audience of their faithful. Hitchens' opponents would get frustrated when their usual lines didn't work on him and sometimes they'd slip and say something a little too close to their true selves.

Example Hitchens is talking about circumcision with a rabbi. After Hitchens makes some pretty ironclad points, the Rabbi tries to deflect them with a joke, which Hitch absolutely tears apart. Then the Rabbi resorts to making the issue personal and trying to imply Hitch is anti-semetic. He shames himself with such honorless debate tactics in a way he likely never would have done consciously. Hitchens was living proof of the saying "Anger is a weapon only to one's enemies." ;)

>Now what am I going to do in the way of changing how I act? Probably not much. I'm a little too impulsive that way. Oh well.

I'm resigned to my fate as a reporter. I know I can't do too much, but I can talk about what I see and try to get people to feel what I feel.
LandonFox
6 years, 11 months ago
Oh and one more thing:

> The reason there are so many bullies in our culture now is because we have this self-destroying PC idea that 'everyone's entitled to their opinion'. Well, no. Not if you're spouting outright lies or unprovoked attacks. This should not be acceptable.

> However, I don't want the government to make a law that says private citizens can't be racist. I value the right to free speech enough that I want racist idiots to be able to say or think anything they want. Because if we ban their ideas, any offensive idea can then be banned too.

These two lines aren't entirely against each other, but they're getting close.  The difference is the degree to which we can tolerate something.  4chan racism vs Sixties racism?  Where does the line get drawn?

> But personally, I don't think someone's framework matters as much as their actions.

Okay, then what about Ron Paul?  He's in the same ballpark politically as Penn and Teller.  He is on the record saying he would have voted against ending segregation, and the reason he gives is the same one given by "free-market" Libertarians.

Your mental framework drives your actions.  Fix the framework, and you fix the actions.

Thus, when I see someone who should be respectable (like Hitchens) support something I don't like (say the war), then I assume there is a mental framework problem somewhere with either him or myself.  I was going to use you as an example, but I wasn't sure if you'd like to be called respectable.  ;3

>  I think you may have just proved my point. Would we have seen such disgusting contempt for the working class, or so many abuses of police power, if the protesters hadn't stood up and made themselves targets?

That was my point.  They weren't "fighting" as much as they were making themselves targets and daring the other side to attack.  There's a difference.  It's the difference between calling someone on there bullshit and getting him to act that way in front of a camera.

Now what am I going to do in the way of changing how I act?  Probably not much.  I'm a little too impulsive that way.  Oh well.
shadycat
6 years, 11 months ago
In response to your edit, I would have also enjoyed seeing Hitchens' commentary on the passing of the "Dear Leader". Also of interest, Vaclav Havel also passed yesterday. If I remember correctly, they were once great friends, but fell out some time ago.
In response to LandonFox, calling Hitchens a neo-con is simplistic in the extreme. He supported overthrowing Saddam because he'd been to Iraq and seen what the monster had done. He did not think that the war was prosecuted wisely, and had no use for Bush. To call him a "war-hawk" is simply false, unless you are referring to a war of ideas and ideologies, in which case he was a one-man eschaton.
LandonFox
6 years, 11 months ago
In my defense, it's what his article says.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Hitchens
shadycat
6 years, 11 months ago
Oh dear.
1. It's Wikipedia. It's not his page.
2. The term "war-hawk" is never mentioned.
3. It says that some labelled him a neoconservative, without saying who those people were. It also states that he denied it, in fact denied being a conservative at all.
4. It's Wikipedia.

Honestly I'm not looking for a fight. I'll just say that his memoir, Hitch-22, is really worth the read, not just because of him but because of the interesting view of recent history it provides through the eyes of some of the most fascinating people of the last fifty years or so. I was not a fan of his stand on the Iraq war at the time. I took it to mean that he agreed with the Bush doctrine. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was in favor of intervention, but deplored the specifics. Please don't form a judgment of the man based on a Wikipedia article.
LandonFox
6 years, 11 months ago
Actually, I formed my judgement on him based on a few speeches I heard him give.  I didn't like them.  Although it's always possible they were out of context and I got the wrong impression.  I'll try to find his book and see if my initial opinions are correct.
shadycat
6 years, 11 months ago
Can't say fairer than that. Right on.
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