Hitch in Birmingham

(The title reminds me of Fitzgerald’s original title for The Great Gatsby: Trimalchio in West Egg).  Last night Christopher Hitchens debated the dour David Berlinski in Birmingham, Alabama: the topic was “Atheism poisons everything.”  A short account of the debate has already been published at Al.com.  My friend Leslie Rissler, a professor at the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) went to the event and sent me extensive notes: the debate was far more interesting than Al.com reports. I thought of putting her notes here, but now it looks as if the complete debate was taped by CNN and will be online soon.  But I will put up two photos she took at the book signing:

Hitch, looking dapper though less hirsute than usual (is that a silk shirt?):

Her prize!!!

Hitchens is still turning out his weekly column for Slate; the latest explores why religions need to be restrained.


  1. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted September 8, 2010 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Nice plaque!

    But wouldn’t it be a shame to waste such extensive notes? (Read: I’m too lazy to listen to the whole lot/disinclined to listen to Berlinski’s voice.)

  2. llewelly
    Posted September 8, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    (is that a silk shirt?)

    Naturally. That’s why it has a (coffee?) stain above the 2nd button.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted September 8, 2010 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Click and enlarge: it’s a microphone!

      • llewelly
        Posted September 8, 2010 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

        My apologies. Thank you for the correction.

  3. bigjohn756
    Posted September 8, 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I am pleased to see how chipper Hitch looks…considering.

  4. Posted September 8, 2010 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Berlinski. Cringe.

  5. Posted September 8, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Yay Leslie! Do post her notes anyway; the more the merrier.

    Excellent that Hitch is feeling ok enough to debate and sign books.

  6. Insightful Ape
    Posted September 8, 2010 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    He is absolutely incredible.
    I can only hope the day I am facing my death I can have a fraction of his courage. I don’t know that I will.

  7. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted September 8, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    No mention of David Berlinski is complete without an appearance of the word supercilious.

    • SLC
      Posted September 8, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      It should also be pointed out that Berlinski is a man who, for several years, lied about his credentials, calling himself a mathematician. His PhD is in philosophy and several of us were unable to find any articles by him in any peer reviewed mathematical journal. Several years ago I outed him as a faux mathematician on Prof. Rosenhouses’ blog and he admitted in a follow on comment on the same thread the truth about his degree. Of course, he then proceeded to lie by claiming that he never claimed to be a mathematician.

  8. Curt Cameron
    Posted September 8, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Any details on the supposedly upcoming release of the debate by CNN? I’d appreciate some linkage!

  9. KP
    Posted September 8, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Hitch is looking good, but the remaining wisps of hair are unbecoming. He should shave his head and Kojak the crap out of the next religious apologist(s) he debates.

    • piero
      Posted September 8, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

      Yes! And I’d love to see him greet them with “Who loves ya, baby?”

      (Yes, I know, I’m over 50 and it shows).

    • Artikcat
      Posted September 8, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      are you sure you wouldnnt want to retract this coment??

      • KP
        Posted September 8, 2010 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

        Me? Am I unaware of something about Kojak? or Telly Sevalas (sp?). Or is itthe shaved “skinhead” thing? I was just suggesting that he might look better just shaved rather than the chemo-hair. My girlfriend’s sister-in-law is going through chemo and she shaved her head. It’s what I’d do too. Nothing to diss on him having cancer either. I think lots of men pull off the shaved head well and it’s a reasonable answer to male pattern baldness as well as chemo-hair.

  10. Lee
    Posted September 8, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Is Berlinski religious or what? He says he is a secular Jew, but then I can’t wrap my head around:

    “…secular Jew who defends the religious worldview because of its moral imperatives”


    “Atheism leaves unanswered the question, ‘What obliges us, what forces us, to behave as we should?'”

    Am I not understanding “secular Jew” correctly?

    • Kevin
      Posted September 8, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

      No, you understand the phrase fine.

      The cognitive disconnect is with Berlinski, who is compelled to defend faith and religion by virtue of being a pseudo-intellectual whore for the Discovery Institute.

      Loathsome toad. Certainly on my short list of people I would not piss on if they were on fire.

    • tmplikeachilles
      Posted September 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      I would imagine he plays the moral double standard beloved of many faitheists: “*I* have the integrity to live well without faith, but I fear that the unwashed masses may not have what it takes to behave themselves without religion’s guiding hand.”

%d bloggers like this: