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The Most Shambolic Debate Ever


Happy Face
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Billed as the "Thrilla in Manhattan-illa," it was meant to feature Christopher Hitchens debating Playthell Benjamin. Hitchens was for the war [iraq], Benjamin was not.

 

The moderator was a fine man by the name of Michael Wolff, of Vanity Fair fame. He set out the rules, 5 minute opening statements, followed by questions asked by Wolff. Benjamin opened. His approximately 13 minute polemic made wild accusations about war criminals, conspiracies, PNAC and all sorts of alleged "proof" why the war in Iraq is wrong. Which is fine. However, he did not actually make a point beyond the typical "Bush is bad, so the war is bad" kind of thing. Which, upon closer inspection, is what Vonnegut would refer to as a granfalloon. Benjamin also felt it necessary to refer to countless intellectuals, writers, poets who had won all sorts of awards... from Pulitzer's to Nobels, etc... I suspect he believed that by associating himself with luminaries, he would raise his own arguments somehow.

 

Hitchens opening was clean, concise, well-thought out and argued. In fact, an actual opening statement. He set out, and this is important because it was the only point he was allowed the make the entire debate and not be interrupted, why he supported the war and why the war was just. He mentioned the four conditions under which a country is allowed to be invaded (of which Iraq had broken all). He mentioned the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, the legislation unanimously passsed by the US Senate (and near-unanimous House).

 

I'm not going to repeat Hitchens' arguments here. He has done a much better job than I ever will through his writing. Go here to read them.

 

Playthell, on the other hand, did not make a single argument. And for an atheist, he certainly preached an awful lot. And... like a bunch of trained seals, the audience learned to bark at the right comments (PNAC, Blood for Oil, George the Second, etc). Hitchens came to debate, and instead, he got to watch a grown man yammer on and had to endure an audience that preferred Playthell's ranting to a reasoned debate.

 

It's the sort of thing one goes to Church for... to listen to someone who says exactly what you believe. But that is because people are afraid to listen to reasoned arguments. Because to discuss something using reason, means to open yourself up to the possibility of being wrong. It means you have to think about what you believe, instead of just believing it.

 

Wolff then cut off this travesty to open it up to the audience. The questions were just prepared statements from the audience against Hitchens and for Benjamin. The first or second audience member actually admitted that she was invited to the debate by Benjamin to make a statement. It got worse from there. Some idiot starting saying "Great Satan" referring to the US and it's attitude towards Iran in 1979.

 

This is the problem when people think they are politically savvy, but are really just being taken in by hucksters and charlatans. Playthell Benjamin is a joke. Hitchens should be given an award for putting up with him as long as he did.

 

http://theodicies.blogspot.com/2006/02/hitchens-benjamin-debate-at-cooper.html

 

Part 1 and links to the rest...

 

 

I was embarrassed to be against the war the way Benjamin went on.

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Hitchens is fantastic, although I disagree with him about the war. Some of his best stuff is his commentary about religion. One of Britain's best exports (unlike his creep of a brother).

 

I think denouncing religion is like shooting fish in a barrell, but been reading/watching a load of his stuff tonight and his wit/intelligence/oratory is Fryesque.

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Guest lankybellwipe

Hitchens is fantastic, although I disagree with him about the war. Some of his best stuff is his commentary about religion. One of Britain's best exports (unlike his creep of a brother).

 

I think denouncing religion is like shooting fish in a barrell, but been reading/watching a load of his stuff tonight and his wit/intelligence/oratory is Fryesque.

 

Yes, yes, quite!  I am moved by your standpoint on this matter Mr. Face.  The obligatory, and fundamental question, in a case of this sensetivity, would be..........

 

eh?............

 

er.............

 

Was he talking to me?

 

Quick! Del Boys' on!

 

 

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Hitchens is fantastic, although I disagree with him about the war. Some of his best stuff is his commentary about religion. One of Britain's best exports (unlike his creep of a brother).

 

I think denouncing religion is like shooting fish in a barrell, but been reading/watching a load of his stuff tonight and his wit/intelligence/oratory is Fryesque.

 

Yes, yes, quite!  I am moved by your standpoint on this matter Mr. Face.  The obligatory, and fundamental question, in a case of this sensetivity, would be..........

 

eh?............

 

er.............

 

Was he talking to me?

 

Quick! Del Boys' on!

 

 

 

Did you say Yoots?

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Hitchens is fantastic, although I disagree with him about the war. Some of his best stuff is his commentary about religion. One of Britain's best exports (unlike his creep of a brother).

 

I think denouncing religion is like shooting fish in a barrell, but been reading/watching a load of his stuff tonight and his wit/intelligence/oratory is Fryesque.

 

He's superb. Seek out his bit on Bill Maher's show when he tells the audience to fuck off. :lol:

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Hitchens is fantastic, although I disagree with him about the war. Some of his best stuff is his commentary about religion. One of Britain's best exports (unlike his creep of a brother).

 

I think denouncing religion is like shooting fish in a barrell, but been reading/watching a load of his stuff tonight and his wit/intelligence/oratory is Fryesque.

 

He's superb. Seek out his bit on Bill Maher's show when he tells the audience to fuck off. :lol:

 

I'm a Real Time regular so I saw that at the time.  Class.

 

New series - August 29th.  :celb:

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Only in this world can you get famous for simply not believing in God.

 

Since I don't believe in any other worlds I'm stuck with it.

 

Hitchens does nothing for me or religion or for atheists. He's a child with child's arguments.

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Guest LucaAltieri

Only in this world can you get famous for simply not believing in God.

 

Since I don't believe in any other worlds I'm stuck with it.

 

Hitchens does nothing for me or religion or for atheists. He's a child with child's arguments.

 

That may be true, shame it doesn't apply to Hitchens.

 

He's a columnist, author and political pundit.

 

If you want to bash people for being unjustly famous then you might want to start with the some of the lower-hanging fruit.

 

Also, if you can watch that video and find Hitchens' arguments to be childish then I simply don't know what to say other than "watch it again."

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Only in this world can you get famous for simply not believing in God.

 

Since I don't believe in any other worlds I'm stuck with it.

 

Hitchens does nothing for me or religion or for atheists. He's a child with child's arguments.

 

That may be true, shame it doesn't apply to Hitchens.

 

He's a columnist, author and political pundit.

 

If you want to bash people for being unjustly famous then you might want to start with the some of the lower-hanging fruit.

 

Also, if you can watch that video and find Hitchens' arguments to be childish then I simply don't know what to say other than "watch it again."

 

lol, I agree, I'm still smiling from this video. He's definitely eloquent and succinct and all those things, but really, he doesn't bring anything to the table from all the footage I've seen of his to come across as anything outstanding or thought-provoking, let alone 'controversial.'

 

Of course, I haven't lived in England for a long time so I'm absolutely unfamiliar with his work, so for all purposes, I was talking from the brief encounters he has had on my television and computer screen. Isn't that how most interests are peaked though? He hasn't peaked mine in the slightest, thus far. Although recommend me something of his (aside from his book, for which I have no time at the moment) and I'll be happy to give it a read.

 

:thup:

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I'm watching the debate now.  It is essentially an old school British socialist position against that of an American liberal.  Opposition to the Iraq War in the US comes from these liberals, not what you would call (or used to call) the Left in Britain.  They key phrase I've heard from Benjamin is 'I don't give a shit about Kuwait'.  What I've found that Europeans don't tend to realize is that both traditional conservatives in the US and most liberals are probably the least internationalist people on earth.  They really aren't gung ho or imperialistic at all....not unless they think there own interests are at stake.  America first and the 'national interest' is the foreign policy consensus in this country and has been for most of the post-second world war era. 

 

That is what worries me about the new liberal golden boy, Obama.  I want Bush gone obviously, but I definitely don't want a return to traditionally conservative democratic foreign policy.  What did Clinton do about Rwanda?  Fuck all, and thousands died.  What did he do about Bosnia, until Blair dragged him in kicking and screaming?  I've yet to be convinced that Obama has any sort of vision when it comes to a foreign policy agenda. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Only in this world can you get famous for simply not believing in God.

 

Since I don't believe in any other worlds I'm stuck with it.

 

Hitchens does nothing for me or religion or for atheists. He's a child with child's arguments.

 

That may be true, shame it doesn't apply to Hitchens.

 

He's a columnist, author and political pundit.

 

If you want to bash people for being unjustly famous then you might want to start with the some of the lower-hanging fruit.

 

Also, if you can watch that video and find Hitchens' arguments to be childish then I simply don't know what to say other than "watch it again."

 

lol, I agree, I'm still smiling from this video. He's definitely eloquent and succinct and all those things, but really, he doesn't bring anything to the table from all the footage I've seen of his to come across as anything outstanding or thought-provoking, let alone 'controversial.'

 

Of course, I haven't lived in England for a long time so I'm absolutely unfamiliar with his work, so for all purposes, I was talking from the brief encounters he has had on my television and computer screen. Isn't that how most interests are peaked though? He hasn't peaked mine in the slightest, thus far. Although recommend me something of his (aside from his book, for which I have no time at the moment) and I'll be happy to give it a read.

 

:thup:

 

Hitchens has been based out of the US since the 80s I think.  He has a book called Love Poverty & War, a long collection of his essays & book reviews which is well worth a read.

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Only in this world can you get famous for simply not believing in God.

 

Since I don't believe in any other worlds I'm stuck with it.

 

Hitchens does nothing for me or religion or for atheists. He's a child with child's arguments.

 

That may be true, shame it doesn't apply to Hitchens.

 

He's a columnist, author and political pundit.

 

If you want to bash people for being unjustly famous then you might want to start with the some of the lower-hanging fruit.

 

Also, if you can watch that video and find Hitchens' arguments to be childish then I simply don't know what to say other than "watch it again."

 

lol, I agree, I'm still smiling from this video. He's definitely eloquent and succinct and all those things, but really, he doesn't bring anything to the table from all the footage I've seen of his to come across as anything outstanding or thought-provoking, let alone 'controversial.'

 

Of course, I haven't lived in England for a long time so I'm absolutely unfamiliar with his work, so for all purposes, I was talking from the brief encounters he has had on my television and computer screen. Isn't that how most interests are peaked though? He hasn't peaked mine in the slightest, thus far. Although recommend me something of his (aside from his book, for which I have no time at the moment) and I'll be happy to give it a read.

 

:thup:

 

Hitchens has been based out of the US since the 80s I think.  He has a book called Love Poverty & War, a long collection of his essays & book reviews which is well worth a read.

 

Cheers, mate.

 

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Only in this world can you get famous for simply not believing in God.

 

Since I don't believe in any other worlds I'm stuck with it.

 

Hitchens does nothing for me or religion or for atheists. He's a child with child's arguments.

 

That may be true, shame it doesn't apply to Hitchens.

 

He's a columnist, author and political pundit.

 

If you want to bash people for being unjustly famous then you might want to start with the some of the lower-hanging fruit.

 

Also, if you can watch that video and find Hitchens' arguments to be childish then I simply don't know what to say other than "watch it again."

 

lol, I agree, I'm still smiling from this video. He's definitely eloquent and succinct and all those things, but really, he doesn't bring anything to the table from all the footage I've seen of his to come across as anything outstanding or thought-provoking, let alone 'controversial.'

 

Of course, I haven't lived in England for a long time so I'm absolutely unfamiliar with his work, so for all purposes, I was talking from the brief encounters he has had on my television and computer screen. Isn't that how most interests are peaked though? He hasn't peaked mine in the slightest, thus far. Although recommend me something of his (aside from his book, for which I have no time at the moment) and I'll be happy to give it a read.

 

:thup:

 

Hitchens has been based out of the US since the 80s I think.  He has a book called Love Poverty & War, a long collection of his essays & book reviews which is well worth a read.

 

Cheers, mate.

 

 

Might as well read the free stuff first though...

 

http://www.hitchensweb.com/

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