Christopher Hitchens came to speak at St. Lawrence in the spring of my freshman year. I had started reporting for the school newspaper that winter, and his lecture seemed like a standard assignment. All I knew about him was that he was a well-regarded yet controversial intellectual, and that he had just written a book titled God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
Most of his lecture focused on the book. I was interested in the subject matter, disagreed with some of the positions, but I was mainly captivated by Hitchens himself. It’s been said before, but the man was so incredibly pompous. Just an all-around ass. I would have hated to have him as my uncle or brother-in law if only for the misery he would have inflicted on family gatherings. But it cannot be denied that he was rather smart. A genius, arguably, at the very least a savant of the English language. He was also one of the best public speakers I’ve ever seen live.
The content of his speeches, though, was always up for debate, and it was no different the day I saw him speak. An Evangelical in the back row confronted him during the Q&A session, told him he was going to hell for his refutation of the Bible’s teachings. Hitchens EXPLODED at the guy. I don’t remember his exact words, and I can’t find the story I later wrote about the episode, but I know the rant ended with “Fuck you and your false god,” before the man sat down meekly and Hitchens settled down.
Essentially, he was pissed off that a random guy was telling him what his religious views should be. And while I didn’t really like Christopher Hitchens, insufferable asshat that he was, I often found myself nodding at his general sentiment. As in this case.