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Who is Christopher Hitchens?

Updated on June 30, 2012

Hate him or love him, Christopher Hitchens cares not. There is a lot of confusion as to what Hitchens actually does for a living, from accusations of being political agent provocateur, a shameless sexist, to a God-hating misanthrope. The truth is that Mr. Hitchens is an English-born (now a naturalized American citizen) author and journalist.

His title and numerous appearances as a public intellectual have caused quite the stir on more than one occasion. His appearances on the debating floor, news outlets and sporadic and often eccentric spontaneous outbursts have divided the public at large. But why? What is so incendiary about his remarks? Is it what he says, or the way he says them? Or both? This article will outline some of Christopher Hitchens's most notable controversies without fear or favor. On we go.

The Man

Hitchens does not need your approval
Hitchens does not need your approval

Playing Twister With Logic

Mr.Hitchens is known and generally despised for his ability to make spaghetti out of people's logic in public. His merciless humor and flippant pomp have made him a marked man to many contemporary intellectuals, politicians and persons "of note". Frankly, I find it all quite refreshing, despite not agreeing on every position he takes. Despite our differences, Mr Hitchens never fails to make his argument compelling and remarkably solid. Much to the dismay of many world-class debaters. The fact that he has an English accent only adds to the humiliation.

He Does It His Way

Playing With Cultural Taboos

Hitchen's articles on Why Women Aren't Funny have sparked humor and outrage at the audacity of his claim. More so because sexism is a touchy subject today, but Hitchen's ignores that, as he always does. To his credit he makes a series of scientific points to bolster his claims. The bottomline is that women do not need to be funny. Take that as you will.

He has also taken a stoic stand against religion and its influence around the world. His arguments could never be contained in a hub, but his book God Is Not Great elaborates on his ideas and beliefs in this field. Hitchens also seems to take a childish glee in making a mockery out of his religious opponents in notorious debates (again, it isnt hard to see why he is such a controversial figure).

His opposition to Religion, defined not as atheism but as anti-theism because he believes religion is not beneficial to society, branches out into politics as well. Mr. Hitchens is a well known advocate for many of George Bush's foreign policy decisions, because Hitchens extends his religious views into contemporary politics. Iran then, by way of its being a religious state, is an evil. North Korea he calls a thanatocracy or necrocracy, whose dead leader and living leaders form a holy trinity. This, he warns, is the example of what religion ultimately does to societies. Where, much like North Korea, thought crime is, and can be punishable.

Why women STILL arent funny

His Lifestyle

Hitchens's outlandish and eccentric lifestyle is the bane of many religious and conservative people. He smokes. He drinks. He takes showers smoking, and does all of this without fear of judgement, and in some cases is more than happy to advertise the fact that he is drunk, publicly. He also fails to follow proper manners and etiquette on occasion, much to the shock and anger of TV show hosts and interviewers.

Whether its insulting someone who just died on live television (lets leave justifiability alone for the sake of this hubs consistency) or cracking jokes about priests. Hitchens never fails to amuse, delight, anger and provoke. 

Things Hitchens Loves And Lates

Hitchens is very candid about his personal likes and dislikes, here is a brief selection of what he considers inspirational, and conversely, what he considers dirt.

Things He Likes:

  • Thomas Paine
  • George Orwell
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Red Wine
Things he dislikes:
  • Mother Teresa (he wrote a book called The Missionary Position about her)
  • The Clintons
  • Religion
  • Henry Kissinger (he admitted to hating Kissinger more than anything or anyone else). 

Sometimes, words fail even Mr Hitchens.
Sometimes, words fail even Mr Hitchens.

Are you a Hitchens Fan?

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    • churlishcurtsey profile image

      Simon Jakobson 4 years ago from Springfield, MO

      Superb article!

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 6 years ago from The English Midlands

      A brilliant man ~ I am very sad to learn of his death.

      I only just found this item and I am pleased that I did so.

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Deb, I agree that Christopher's iconoclasm seems to stem mostly from his own desire to perennially be the underdog. The thing is -- it seems like he gets away with being honest at the same time!

      I'm not sure I entirely agree with your closing statement, do you feel Christopher is faithless (in a humanistic sense)? Thanks for your thoughts!

    • profile image

      Deb 6 years ago

      We harbor a perverse desire to demolish the things we construct. When we aren't brave enough or reckless enough to do it ourselves, we delight in seeing someone do it, even when we rue the resulting chaos. Hitchens provides for many of us that vicarious pleasure. Fortunately, Hitchen types are few and the pleasure is vacuous enough to waft through our collective consciousness without doing lasting damage. Such polemicists are necessary to give vent to the pent up doubt and frustration of the human psyche. Beware taking his iconoclasm to much to heart, though. Loss of faith is a true human tragedy.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Not sure that I like the man but he is one of thoswe necessary things, a heretic. We need heretics to move human thought forward. Too much conformity is bad for the human condition!

      Thanks for sharing

      Love and peace


    • Elena. profile image

      Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

      Thanks for enlightening me about this fellow. Never heard about him before, and was introduced to one of his sublime quotes in your "top 5 quotes" article. I think I might buy his book "God is not great", I'm always up for some stimulating diatribe :-)

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 7 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thank you -- I think. I do agree with the principle that man people solely know of Hitch fro one of his ventures and he must be considered as a whole.

      Not that you have to like him because of it, though ;)

    • profile image

      ManUWins 7 years ago

      Perfect where he said many people don't know what Hitchens does for a living, perfect example of how people love to have opinions on things they know nothing about. I also love it when Hitch is interviewed and someone says he has made his career bashing religion, Hitch answers no without giving an explanation, Hitchens has been writing for decades on politics and literature, thats how he has made his career, only recently has he published a large work on religion. Of course though religion has permeated everything he has done.

      If you dont know what your talking about, just stop talking.