Christopher Hitchens was a lot of things to a lot of different people. Writer, English teacher, debater, heretic, and if you were lucky enough, maybe even a drinking partner.
Throughout his long and brilliant career, Hitchens entertained, enraged, and enlightened people on both ends of the ideological spectrum.
Today on his birthday, many people have dubbed the 13th of April as ‘Christopher Hitchens Day’ (There is a Facebook event page if you are so inclined), and so I thought I would share a few of my favorite clips of the late great intellectual.
Freedom of Speech
At the University of Toronto, Hitchens delivers a masterful comeback to those who would ban speech they do not agree with. Defending men like David Irving, a well-known Holocaust denier, is everyone’s intellectual duty he says quite convincingly. Citing John Stuart Mill, he makes the argument that when you censor someone you do not agree with, you are harming yourself just as much as you are harming the person being silenced.
Hitchens does Comedy (NSFW)
This clip makes the cut for a couple of reasons. First of all Hitchens is uproariously funny, managing to get crude while at the same time somehow maintaining a highbrow tone to the whole thing, as only he could.
The other reason is because while interacting with the audience, we are relieved to find that the funny, insightful, and witty Hitchens of the printed page, is the same entertaining person in real life when interacting with an audience. Often times, the people who rely on teleprompters when giving a speech, and the backspace key when writing an article can be mediocre at public appearances, but here Hitchens plays the crowd masterfully, and we even have the special treat of hearing the F-bomb dropped on C-SPAN.
In other words, everybody wins.
Summing it all Up
As everyone knows, the later part of Hitchens’ career was mostly preoccupied with the issue of religion and faith.
Watch below as just months before his death, he makes an impassioned defense of freedom of thought, while simultaneously tearing down the idea of dogma, blind faith, and submission to a higher power.
Rest in peace, Hitch.