Hitchens Must Die


My attention was elsewhere last night. I got the news from a friend:

Can’t talk about it online, but I’m pouring one out for Hitchens. His book was the one that made me an atheist. I owe him. Though after I became sad at some of his views. Still. God is not Great. I owe him for that one.

My first thought was that I didn’t know this friend wasn’t out as an atheist. I just thought there wasn’t much interest in talking about religion in public. I responded, “I started an atheist, so what he taught me was that we don’t have to give up flair to talk about it.”

My second reaction was to check with the news sites to see whether he was confirmed dead, rumored dead, or had just taken a drastic turn for the worse. The obituaries–and eulogies–had just started going up.

My third act was to turn to Twitter. Christopher Hitchens was not the sort of person people in my circle look at and say, “Meh.” There would be opinions, many of them inspired in their writing by the eloquence of their subject. They didn’t disappoint. My own thoughts didn’t really fit into 140 characters:

Hitchens brilliance lay in the clarity of his analysis and the weight of his communication. One was never in doubt that he thought hard, and his conclusions were inescapably presented to anyone who read him. That brilliant mind, however, faced forever outward. He never seemed to turn its full power on himself and his assumptions about the world. He did harm that was entirely unnecessary and good that was so thoroughly stamped with his own personality that it has a fair claim to being unique.

He was deeply, vitally, and tragically human. It was fascinating to see everyone’s takes on his life and legacy.

By the time I noticed the #GodIsNotGreat hashtag, it was trending and receiving the random attention that trending topics do. It was an odd mix of people calmly talking about what Hitchens had meant to them, quoting him, mourning his death–and a bunch of people who had never heard of him but were aghast that a topic like that could ever trend. It was funny and appalling in about equal measure.

This morning, the hashtag is no longer trending. People are mostly seeing retweets of friends and like-minded individuals talking about what it looked like last night. There is condemnation of some of the things that were said, and doubt that it could have been that bad. I would call it skepticism, but it’s all based on personal incredulity, leavened, of course, with a dose of disdain for anyone who would think it had been that bad.

These tweets are for those who are sheltered enough to still (still!) believe that people don’t say things like that. First, the simple name-calling:

Ah, yes. Love. Nothing says love like competition:

Except maybe damnation:

Or perhaps pain and injury:

Hey, how about death?

Anybody still have those doubts?

At least among all the nastiness, there were a few people who failed so perfectly with their “insults” that Hitchens himself would have been flattered.

Pity Hitch didn’t get to stick around to see that.

Comments

  1. New England Bob says

    The ignorance is astounding, but expected. It is one of the reasons I do not have a twitter account.

    “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” – attributed to many different people.

  2. Brownian says

    What’s going on here? God is an ideal, a mental placeholder, a personified value to which we should all aspire. Nobody really believes in him. Yet, these individuals are acting as if they actually do.

    Someone needs to tell the Sophisticated Theologists™ that their memos aren’t being circulated.

  3. Randomfactor says

    To borrow a page from another of my favorite writers, Ambrose Bierce, these folks have overlooked something: their OWN mortality.

    (Yeah, of course, that’s what the whole religion swindle is based on…)

  4. says

    One of the commenters railing on about how “God is love” is a man with the Twitter handle, “ChunkyChicks”. That says a lot to me, but probably not what the commenter intended…

  5. NoAstronomer says

    I’m curious whether those who tweet complaining about why a topic is trending on Twitter understand that if you include the hashtag in the tweet then that reinforces the trend.

  6. rikitiki says

    wow…this one: “…whoever made this will burn at the stake!!!!”

    The stupid – it really does burn.

  7. Tezcatlipoca says

    They’re about a day late with their threats. However, I’m not so sure they are as bad as th ghouls who slaver in anticipation of Hitch burning in their imaginary hell.

  8. julian says

    Not having been one of those people who were inspired by Christopher Hitchens I was going to stay out of these threads but…wow…just…wow

  9. Paddy says

    I miss Hitch so much, and he’s only been gone a day.

    Only deluded believers would talk about how their skygod is peace and love and threaten to kill you in the same breath.

    They are the epitome of ignorance, intolerance, bigotry, hatred, and everything opposite the principles that they supposedly attribute to their fairy friend.

    The utter hypocrisy and mind blowing stupidity is sickening.

  10. says

    Those that talk of killing and burning any one who insults their cartoon god needs a heavy dose of DMT so they, just maybe, will come away with a greater desire for sanity.

  11. F says

    whoever created that trending topic MUST die today!!wt sort of human beings r in here?

    Um, vile hypocritical violent scum like you?

    I will personally beat yu da fuck up asswhole [sic, lol]…. I jus prayed for yu thp

    Oh, this meme. This is the one about God and his minions on Earth with their loving violence and violent love. They hate you, they’ll kill you, but honestly pray for your soul. Of course a lot of them really won’t kill anybody, and a lot of them won’t actually pray for you, even if they really ever pray at all instead of just using the word. Such dangerous weirdness.

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