Although I greatly admire Hitchen's writings on atheism, let's not forget what a horrendous ass-hat he really was when it came to the Iraq war, neoconism, and the deaths of civilians. Hitchens would never let anyone else slide (see Mother Theresa, Princess Diana) on their moral misgivings and hypocrisies just because they're dead. How do you reconcile celebrating him with these unforgivable lapses in moral judgement?
I can reconcile it very easily since I'm not out to beatify the man. Like all men (and women), he had his faults and ideas that were disagreeable. I know that if anytime I were praised for something good I had done, if the peanut gallery felt compelled to remind everyone of what an asshole I was at various other times, it would get to be quite tedious and vexing. That said, he was a public person and I don't mind at all those who point out his faults, but to criticize those who are publicly appreciating the good is likely overlooking the fact that the negatives are not being ignored in order to elevate his status. His status is elevated in spite of the negatives.
Not criticizing. I plan to hoist a pint tomorrow with many of you. It's a mixed bag. His atheistic writing was so good, but his stance on many issues was so vile and destructive (I don't think I'm using hyperbole here. Writing with glee about how shrapnel bombs mutilate civilians is just plain awful.) that I find it hard to admire someone that I couldn't possibly like. Same with his misogyny. The whole women aren't funny thing I chalked up to acute alcoholism at the time, but going back over his writing he was always willing to describe women in derogatory sexist terms when he didn't like them. Not admirable at all in my book. So I guess I'll be toasting to the part of the man I admired and arguing against his ideas on forums.
I agree with that heartily.
Here are a couple of not too nice quotes:
The Update on that page is quite interesting also. The Salon article I linked to in the top is a pretty thorough criticism of Hitchen's dark side.
It's a hat for your ass.
Yes, kidding aside, it is actually slang and meant as a disparagement. I think the most appropriate synonym would be "fool". I'm not sure if it is purely American, but certainly is used here often.
"Fool," perhaps. "Buffoon" also works, but neither term really captures the full meaning of calling someone an ass, because part of the meaning has nothing with being foolish. It also carries with it the idea of someone who goes out of his way to irritate and hurt others.
Yup he had his opinions and stuck to them no matter what so I can't say there is anything to reconcile.
The stirring eloquence with which Hitchens expounded on atheism should not cloud judgments on his moral failings. Don't forget: Karl Rove is an atheist. And Hitler was a Catholic.
And the pope was a Nazi
Oh wait a minute, come on now, not officially..