Brian Edwards Media

Christopher Hitchens’ New Ten Commandments

My good friend Max Cryer drew this to my attention. I thought you might like it too. And, by the way, if you want to spend an interesting, entertaining and infuriating hour or so, check out Hitchens’ confrontations with that bullying moron from Fox News, Sean Hannity.

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  1. Very good stuff. Got a link to that Hitchens/Hannity vid?

    JC: Here it is –

  2. Well old or new, advertising would be out as it encourages the coveting of your neighbourhood’s gear let alone being encouraged to buy the false witness of politicians in order to vote for them.
    Just realized that coveting my neighbour’s ass meant her donkey-like creature.

  3. if you’ve already decided that Sean Hannity is a bullying moron, why invite comment at all?

  4. In just so happens (thanks, Air NZ) I have the October 2010 issue of Vanity Fair on my bedside table. I’ve kept it there for awhile, because Hitchens pens a moving article: UNANSWERABLE PRAYERS (pg 92) of his battle with cancer of the esophagus.

    The sub-heading reads:

    What’s an “atheist” to think when thousands of believers (including prominent rabbis and priests) are praying for his survival and salvation—while others believe his cancer was divinely inspired, and hope that he burns in hell?

    And this in the body of his article….

    ‘But, as I knew before I became ill, there are some people for whom this explanation is unsatisfying. To them, a rodent carcinoma really is a dedicated, conscious agent—a slow-acting suicide-murderer—on a consecrated mission from heaven. You haven’t lived, if I can put it like this, until you have read contributions such as this on the Web sites of the faithful:

    ‘Who else feels Christopher Hitchens getting terminal throat cancer [sic] was God’s revenge for him using his voice to blaspheme him? Atheists like to ignore FACTS. They like to act like everything is a “coincidence”. Really? It’s just a “coincidence” [that] out of any part of his body, Christopher Hitchens got cancer in the one part of his body he used for blasphemy? Yea, keep believing that Atheists. He’s going to writhe in agony and pain and wither away to nothing and then die a horrible agonizing death, and THEN comes the real fun, when he’s sent to HELLFIRE forever to be tortured and set afire.’

  5. “if you’ve already decided that Sean Hannity is a bullying moron, why invite comment at all?”

    Because bullying morons with tv shows should be taken down a peg?

    Actually, at the link above I didn’t find Hannity to be bullying at all, just a moron.

    BE: All the Fox hosts are bullies. They talk down and over their interviewees.

  6. Hitchens arguments were a bit old hat, and I thought there were a few straw men in there. I was dissatisfied in that there was a failure to engage with the cultural context in which the decalogue was given (which any biblical scholar worth their salt would insist on).

    Also clearly defined New Teastament doctrines such as progressive revelation, and original sin were ignored. You are free to reject those doctrines as interpretive keys if you wish, but I’d suggest without them, you are not really engaging with Exodus 20, or Deuteronomy 5. Sort of like the straw men pastors knock over regarding atheism and its supposedly deluded adherents every Sunday from their pulpits. (And, yes, I’m aware the Jewish community to whom the decalogue was originally given would strongly disagree with the two doctrines mentioned!).

    Also, it is a complex issue if and how Mosaic law and New Testament ethics should be applied in a modern secular civic context. Many of you no doubt think, “Not at all!” Fair enough – it is your society and country too!

    Mind you, at least Hitchens is more consistent, and is prepared to state, albeit superficially, some of the interpretive and application difficulties. That seems a bit more intellectually honest than the ‘bring back the morals of the 10 commandments’ brigade. Seeing as the fundamentalists have little idea what the texts meant to the original recipients, nor how to apply it meaningfully, mercifully, and constructively, better not to give them the opportunity!

    Hannity was simply trying to rehash, poorly, Thomas Aquinas’ 2nd ‘proof’ for the existence of God – causitive effect. It is an argument which is theologically, intellectually, and scientifically full of holes. Obviously wasting his time with a guy like Hitchens, who has taken the time to think out what he believes, and why he believes it.

    Also, liked Hitchens style. Don’t agree with him, but good to see someone of substance, holding firm views still willing to debate like a gentleman. If theists and atheists of all persuasions could dialogue like this, I don’t know if we would necessarily arrive at a consensus. However, we’d all get along a bit better.

    BE: How my 5-year-old son dealt with the ‘second proof’ for the existence of God:

    Son: Dad, who made the universe?
    Me: I don’t know. Some people say god make the universe?
    Son: Then who made god, Dad?

  7. How my 5-year-old son dealt with the ‘second proof’ for the existence of God:

    Son: Dad, who made the universe?
    Me: I don’t know. Some people say god make the universe?
    Son: Then who made god, Dad?

    “And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” (Matthew 21:16 – Christ was quoting Psalm 8:2)

  8. Let’s drop the abusive term “moron”, if only for the sake of civility. Certainly it’s fair to say Hannity is a bully. He’s also indolent, and intellectually incurious—but that makes him no different from most media hosts and pundits in the United States.

    It’s a worry to see some people here according undue respect to Christopher Hitchens, however. Hitchens is a lowering, vicious bully, far worse than Hannity. Anyway, he and Hannity are identical in their thinking on the so-called “War on Terror” and the brutal occupation of Afghanistan.

    Those people who profess to “like Hitchens’ style” should watch him when he’s confronted by a superior opponent. Dissenting British politician George Galloway has made a fool of Hitchens on several occasions; Hitchens could do no more than spit vacuous adjectives and untruthful allegations at him. While Hitchens’ strategy of abuse works well when he is unleashing a torrent of rhetoric on a fool like Hannity or shouting down an Iranian woman in Sydney, he came unglued memorably when he foolishly tried to mount one of his ad hominem attacks on (of all people) Noam Chomsky in 2001. A couple of weeks later, Chomsky dismissed Hitchens as “incoherent”.

    BE: “Let’s drop the abusive term “moron”, if only for the sake of civility.” That’s curiously sensitive given the vitriol you proceed to pour on Hitchens. But actually ‘moron’ is too kind for Hannity, as it would be for most of the Fox crew, Beck especially. These people are intellectual thugs.

  9. You guys are spending a lot of time arguing about someone you think is a moron.

  10. I don’t “pour vitriol” on Hitchens, I hold up his hypocrisy for public inspection. When I say he is a lowering, vicious bully, whose stock-in-trade is foul abuse, it’s a fact—and I can back it up with any number of examples.

    I agree that Hannity, O’Reilly, Beck, et al. are thugs. But they are easy targets, and are taken seriously by hardly anyone. People that write off Glenn Beck because he looks and sounds like a kook will say they are impressed by Hitchens; after all, he went to a prestigious university (Balliol College, Oxford), he is an eloquent public speaker, and he looks and sounds authoritative and plausible.

    Hitchens learned early in his career that smooth delivery, a sonorous Home Counties voice, an air of gravitas and, above all, the free and unfettered use of ad hominem attack, lies and character assassination, can intimidate and disorientate an opponent—and sway an audience. His strategy of non-stop personal abuse is something he learned when he was a hardline Maoist agitator.

    His hounding of George Galloway is based on nothing more than personal animus. Working in close co-operation with the most extreme right wing elements of the U.S. Senate, Hitchens has traduced Galloway for years, without providing any evidence to support his and his powerful backers’ lies. Here’s a sample of one of his outbursts against Galloway: “He declined to testify to the Senate subcommittee…an insult … vile and cheap guttersnipe abuse … a disgrace… a crime… he has profited from the theft of money from the Iraqi Oil for Food program…” He calls Galloway “a business partner of the Saddam Hussein regime” and sprays around dozens of other unsubstantiated, equally ludicrous attempts to smear him.

    It’s all malicious untruth, of course. But Hitchens continues to repeat these lies to this day, He has failed to back them up with any evidence. And of course, all of this adjective-rich but fact-free abuse is delivered in a bullying, hectoring, snarling manner.

    Galloway, of course, can stick up for himself, and has rhetorically thrashed Hitchens on several occasions.

    So have Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky (he told Kim Hill that Hitchens is “incoherent”) and Norman Finkelstein.

    Read Finkelstein’s indictment of the poseur here….

  11. Tariq Ali! I’ve read some of his waffle, heard him side step his way through an extended interview on the topic of Islam and was totally unimpressed with his critical thinking abilities.

    Noam doesn’t actually stand for anything. He just takes pot shots at others. I think it was Steven Pinker who criticized Noam by observing he was “militantly agnostic” with regards to language via natural selection, and this tendency to automatically pour cold water onto ideas he doesn’t understand bleeds into his politics; unhelpful.

  12. I doubt you have read anything at all by Tariq Ali. But let’s give you the benefit of the doubt: could you provide us with something of substance to bolster what seems to be a vacuous broadside in the manner of, say, Paul Holmes?

    Your comments about Chomsky are vacuous.