Friday, 20 April 2012

Venomous Hitchslaps?

A friend has gently taken me to task for my Amazing Hitchslap Index series (see links below), for reasons that I can understand but can't possibly agree with.  The reason that I took the time to index them all was that I have a great deal of respect for the direct and rational challenges that he made against all religious institutions.

Now obviously that is not the same as saying that all Christians (or indeed all Muslims) think in the same way as the formal religions of which they are members.  Of course most ordinary Christians think of themselves as decent and well-meaning people, and although I know fewer Muslims I would assume that they would claim the same.  (I must admit that I'm naturally more suspicious of a religion which has a concept of taqiyyah though!  Yes, people lie for Jesus, but its not quite as highly formalised in christian doctrine.)

But they are all members of organisations that have a lot to be ashamed of!  They must take some responsibility for the way that their donations are squandered.

In a nicely christian way, my friend has very refrained from making comments on the posts out of a sense of respect for the recently deceased Mr Hitchens.  However, I think he would not be upset at all if she said what she disagreed with, in a calm and rational way.  He might very well have answered, as he did in Hitchslap 56:

"You give the awful impression of someone who has not read any of the arguments against your position ever. "

After all, Christopher Hitchens was much less respectful of the dead and terminally ill, both while they were alive and after their deaths. He expected (and to some extent got) the same treatment during his own illness. 

You may say that he slandered Christians but to be honest I think you would have trouble supporting that claim.  Slander requires his words to be untrue.  Besides that, he generally argued against Christianity rather than against specific Christians, with the exception of people like Falwell and Robertson who have shown themselves to be 'notorious' characters anyway, and Mother Teresa who was (at best) not beyond suspicion.

My main argument would be that you should ask yourself whether his words would be considered acceptable in a political debate though.  I think they would not seem unusually harsh in such a context.

Hitch - equally outspoken on politics (as you can read here)

It is just that Christianity has become accustomed to being immune to questioning and at long last it has to face up to those hard questions being asked. In my view it has no right to expect that immunity. Do YOU think it does?

Far from being an outpouring of venom, I prefer to think of the work of Hitchens as brave, reasonable and rational opinion on a topic that should be important to all of us.

Sometimes I'm more outspoken than other times.  I generally I try to maintain a reasonable degree of politeness but I decline to be unnecessarily reverent.  That doesn't mean that I can't respect someone who was less reticent with his views.

Hitchslap Index posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Small note: He famously changed his mind about the Iraq war.  That demonstrates open-mindedness and represents a virtue rather than a weakness in my opinion.

1 comment:

Carbonman said...

I'd love to read your friend's comments, as I think I can guess more or less what they are and I'd like to see if I've guessed right.

As for people who belong to a formal religion not thinking the same way as the religion of which they are members, that means they aren't members of it and should have the balls to say so.