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Unnecessary Statuary

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The idea of putting a statue of Christopher Hitchens in a British park is enough to make me choke on my shawarma. At least someone is standing up to what would be the 21st century’s least defensible public monument.

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  • Warren Terra

    I’m all for it so long as the plinth is a sculpture of a hundred thousand dead Iraqis.

    • Rhino

      And the figure should be hitchens cowering in fear with urine trickling down his leg.

      • Pestilence

        +1

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    So Hitchens would be exposed to the world, covered in pigeon shit. Strangely apropos.

  • Aaron B.

    I saw him speak, once. Somebody asked him a question about his continued support for the Iraq war despite the immense human toll.

    His answer was… pretty pathetic, for someone who’s as accomplished a polemicist as he is. He basically just denied that there had been that many casualties.

    • Even worse, I saw him outwitted on MSNBC by Ron Reagan. Ron Reagan!

  • FMguru

    Is Britain suffering from a shortage of places where birds can shit, or something?

    • c u n d gulag

      After generations, they’re tired of dive-bombing Admiral Nelson. They want a fresh target.

    • Hogan

      They should put up a statue of this pigeon. Maybe the other ones would leave it alone.

  • STH

    Unfortunately, he’s become something of a hero in the atheist community since his death. Sure, he was pretty articulate when it came to religion, but I can’t forget all that other stuff he wrote. Yikes.

    • Aaron B.

      Even then, he was kind of a shit. Watch the intelligence squared debate about tr Catholic Church; Stephen Frye manages to be a hell of a lot more articulate and less douchey.

      • Anonymous

        Apart from Frye’s misogyny, maybe.

        • Aaron B.

          What are you referring to?

          • Anonymous

            I’m suggesting that the atheist community–if we’re going to consider it a monolith–is now a lot less impressed with Fry as a result of the many, many shitty things he thinks about women.

            • Dave

              Hmm, the first 2 pages of links there all come down to one comment made in late 2010. Glad to see the ‘one strike and you’re out’ rule still applies… Without discounting any passing ill-considered remarks, the idea that Stephen Fry is actually, in some substantive sense, an embodiment of misogyny is ridiculous.

              • Ed

                Without discounting any passing ill-considered remarks, the idea that Stephen Fry is actually, in some substantive sense, an embodiment of misogyny is ridiculous.

                I don’t think Fry “embodies” misogyny any more than Hitchens did, but it’s plain these weren’t passing half-baked remarks.

                • jameson quinn

                  What did he say? Did he keep digging?

                • The rough gist of what he said is that said that women don’t really like sex or they’d be cruising like gay men. He tried to take it back/pass it off as a distortion or a joke, but apparently he had a similar bit in a recording.

                  Not cool. I don’t think it puts him in Hitchens league, but not happymaking.

                • Aaron B.

                  I think that’s a good example of a pretty typical flavor of misogyny I’ve observed in a lot of male gay friends. It’s undesirable and upsetting, promotes unfair and unrepresentative conceptions of gender norms, and is oddly blind to the kind of social sanctions women face for expressing their sexuality – odd because male homosexuals face similar types of sanctions enforced in similar ways. It’s bad, and his post-facto excuse-making is laughable.

                  That said, it’s kind of… humdrum. As in, there are lots of beer commercials that do more to advance patriarchy than this. The idea that it makes him the embodiment of misogyny seems pretty over-the-top to me.

                • Well, obviously Fry isn’t “the embodiment” etc. but Anonymous didn’t say that or even really suggest it. They may have overstated somewhat (was it “many many shitty things”? but does it matter?)

                  But to move to something positive, Delany’s Times Square Red, Times Square Blue is essential reading, in general, but also in a counter to this standard bit of misogyny. For Delany, the fact that women do not (or perhaps did not) have the opportunities for sort of sexual culture he experienced in Times Square is a function and aspect of their oppression.

                  Well worth a read.

                • Halloween Jack

                  Gay man has a less-than-perfect understanding of women’s sexuality? Let the pearl-clutching commence!

              • Anonymous

                Your lack of interest or inability to scan past the second page is not particularly compelling. Fry routinely makes such comments about how silly/disgusting women and female body parts are, has been filmed doing so, is well-known for his pedophilia apologia (laced with public school-style classicism), and has a nice, healthy hostility towards transpeople to boot.

                • Rhino

                  Citations?

                • matt w

                  OK, I have no opinion on this debate, but if you want to condescend to people for not divining what specific thing you’re talking about you should SUPPLY THE FUCKING LINKS YOURSELF. Why should anyone else click through three pages of Google links if you can’t be bothered to paste in the link.

            • Aaron B.

              The atheist community has its own serious problems with misogyny. But my question was intended completely sincerely. Also, I don’t want to go find for myself what other people think about Stephen Fry’s attitudes about women, but instead, what YOU are referring to.

              • ajay

                The atheist community has its own serious problems with misogyny.

                If only male atheists weren’t so smug and unpleasant, maybe they could acquire the enlightened attitude towards women of, say, the Pope.

                • Aaron B.

                  The fact that others are worse is no reason not to challenge privilege where it appears.

                • sharculese

                  If only male atheists weren’t so smug and unpleasant

                  Lots of atheists are definitely smug and unpleasant about their assumed right to treat women as objects, yes. this is a thing that can be true without being an indictment of atheism.

            • Aaron B.

              More significantly, I want to know why you think what you think about it.

              • Anonymous

                That’s real sweet that you care, dude.

                • Rhino

                  He doesn’t care. What he is saying is either cite it or stfu. And I agree. Also, hiding behind anon instead of picking a nym is essentially making you a troll, did you know that?

                • Anonymous

                  You mad, bro?

        • Those Fry comments were pretty damn crappy. OTOH, it’s not like Christopher “Women aren’t funny! Not like Richard Cohan!” Hitchens isn’t a huge winner here either.

          • Halloween Jack

            It’s not even remotely in the same league as Hitchens’ chronic misogyny.

    • Anonymous

      It was great that he exposed History’s Greatest Monster, Mother Thersea.

    • Warren Terra

      If you really want (hint: you don’t) I’ll post a “debate” I captured from BBC Radio 4 of Hitchens Vs. Blair on the subject of religion. It was completely ridiculous, helped by the facts that Blair is a total moron on the subject of religion and Hitchens idolized Blair for his support of Dubya’s wars.

      The most striking thing – and I say this as someone who despises organized religion – was the degree to which Hitchens came across not as someone promoting reason and atheism, but as an utter and unreasoning bigot against particular religions, including Catholicism but especially Islam. It was clear that he didn’t hate the lies so much as he hated those raised in them.

      • Uncle Ebeneezer

        I think Hitchen’s position in the atheist community came about more because of his provocative attitude and his large megaphone. For a group that still has relatively few defenders and advocates who actually get the MSNBC visits and Times Op Ed spaces, the atheist movement is often happy to cheer anyone who roughly speaks on their concerns. Hitchens had the ability to be heard across broader spectrums than any of the other horseman (save Dawkins), but his arguments were often just mean-spirited, incoherent and unfocused. He never seemed to belong at the top of the atheist mountain, imo, and served more like the celebrity endorser of the cause who really has no place up on stage with the experts. And while nobody’s perfect (Dawkin’s misogyny, Harris’ Islamophobia etc.) their arguments for atheism were still far tighter and logical than the stuff that Hitchens wrote. I think the days of atheist hierarchy are largely over now, as bloggers like Greta Christina, PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, Rebecca Watson etc., now do far more for the cause with their daily posting than the every-so-often book release by Dawkins or Harris etc. I’m not one of those people who thinks atheists just need to be nicer. I think there are good reasons for atheist anger, and I think there need to be good cops and also bad cops representing the movement. But Hitchens wasn’t very good at the role.

        I would also add that as far as I can tell, people in the atheist movement don’t universally cherish Hitchens (as is often suggested) or grant him a pass on Iraq. There is plenty of criticism of Hitchens’ position on the Iraq war, just as there is plenty of criticism of Dawkin’s misogynist remarks and Harris’ positions on torture and Islam. Some people let their hero worship of these individuals allow them to ignore their flaws, but the majority don’t seem to.

      • Ed

        It was clear that he didn’t hate the lies so much as he hated those raised in them.

        Without defending the politicized anti-Islamic aspect Hitchens’ atheism, my impression was that much of Hitchens’ writing about individual believers was not hateful, and nearing the end he was very charitable towards well-meaning people hoping for a deathbed conversion. Nor is it as if Islam and Holy Mother Church have no way of fighting back against the onslaught of a handful of popularizing atheist writers.

    • wengler

      Hitchens and Dawkins are the twin pillars of the new orthodox atheism, especially among the young.

      Every new religion needs douchebags to idolize.

  • parrot

    the patron saint of the eternally empty immaculate shot glass will attract thousands of toasted cheese sandwich worshippers …

  • Jon H

    On the other hand, you probably couldn’t assist in the live Hitchens getting covered in bird shit.

  • Jim Lynch

    “The 21st century’s least defensible public monument”?

    Not by a long shot.

    Limbaugh and Missouri. Need I say more?

    • piny

      I think I could reconcile myself to a memorial bust of Limbaugh anywhere, including my own front lawn. But God never listens to me.

      • Warren Terra

        Byron on Castlereagh comes to mind.

        • rea

          Posterity will ne’er survey
          a Nobler grave than this:
          Here lie the bones of Castlereagh:
          Stop, traveller, and piss!

          • rea

            Although, actually, if you were to piss on the floor of Westminster Abbey, you’d probably be arrested.

            • jameson quinn

              And thrown in jail for three years? That would be a riot!

            • LFC

              I’m going to guess — though I may be wrong, not sure of my dates, I know Castelreagh committed suicide but I can’t remember exactly when — that Bryon was upset at C’s opposition to Greek independence, inter alia, and his conservatism in general. (But, as I say, guessing.)

              • matt w

                Probably the Peterloo massacre had a lot to do with it; it certainly did for Shelley.

  • matt

    The only way a Christopher Hitchens memorial is unprofane is if he’s depicted in the act of throwing a large turd, as he so often was, metaphorically speaking, poised in life.

  • herr doktor bimler

    Celebrating Hitchens with a statue across Red Lion Square from a bust of Bertrand Russell?
    Add me to the “Stop, traveller, and piss” roster.
    If memory serves there are few Fullers pubs in the neighbourhood to help with urine production.

  • angelfoot

    Does he deserve a statue? No. However I have mixed feelings about Hitchens. I read him for years in the Nation, stopped paying attention after he became so hawkish, but his logic and emotions were consistent and he never completely lost my respect.

    • Urban Garlic

      I’m with you on this — he was about equal parts infuriating and insightful, at least to me, and some of his more polemical essays are very good reads, even if you disagree with them.

      After he died, someone (I forget who or where, of course) commented that the real tragedy was that Hitchens could now never write a Kissinger obituary…

      • Leeds man

        the real tragedy was that Hitchens could now never write a Kissinger obituary

        It’s possible that he did. I eagerly await.

  • angelfoot

    I would just add try and find his columns about Clinton prior to his election, and about the Taliban prior to 9/11, and tell me that you disagree with them.

    • angelfoot

      Also he was wrong wrong, wrong about Iraq but I understood why he initially supported it because the Kurds.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        He was also wrong, wrong, wrong about abortion going back years before his fullblown neoconnery.

        • RhZ

          As for his Iraq columns in Slate, not only was he wrong, they were all just a total shit job. No logic whatsoever, just sloshing from one semi-point to another, much like Hitch at closing time.

          Try to read those and see if your respect survives intact. Mine did not.

    • The Clinton stuff is really really spotty. He’s great on the Al-Shifa factory bombing but outside of that there’s a lot of ineffectual tut-tutting about how vulgar the Clinton’s are (including, I shit you not, the charge that “they didn’t marry for love”), and raids along the wilder shores of Greater Wingnuttia (he doesn’t connect the dots on Vince Foster but arranges them in a straight line while saying hmm isn’t this interesting).

      • LFC

        His hatred of the Clintons bordered on the irrational, not that I am a particular Clinton fan. Hitchens could be self-deprecating, though, which must be counted as a redeeming feature. He also wrote well, even when the substance was crap. (His style felt authentic, unlike George Will, who is trying too hard, as in “see I can write just as cleverly as those people who went to Oxford.”)

        • Hogan

          Reminds me of Ethan Coen (Princeton ’79) talking about Joel (NYU Film Scbool ’80): “I was beautifully educated. Joel went to trade school.”

  • Hitch was universally beloved by the professionally aggrieved.

    He should be honored by setting up a charity to receive posthumous speaking fees for gigs he wouldn’t have showed up for sober anyway.

    • Ed

      He should be honored by setting up a charity to receive posthumous speaking fees for gigs he wouldn’t have showed up for sober anyway.

      I hold no brief for the guy butit must be allowed he talked better when he was a couple of sheets to the wind than most pundits dead sober.

  • Eric

    It doesn’t matter anyway. The Apocalypse is coming, so it might as well include a Christopher Hitchens statue.

    • Warren Terra

      That is friggin’ hilarious.

    • Perhaps it’s time for a new Four Horsemen, including Mr. Hitchens?

  • LeeEsq

    My main problem with this statue isn’t that Hitchens supported Gulf War II, its that he hasn’t done anything really important, for good or ill, to warrant a public monument. Public monuments should really be reserved for larger than life figures who people remember for generations. Hitchens isn’t one of them.

    • herr doktor bimler

      You mean they’re not a way of annexing public space to promote a political agenda through symbolic means, while persuading someone else to pay for it? I feel so disillusioned now.

      • LeeEsq

        Well they are this to.

  • Wido Incognitus

    It is unfortunate that he suffered so much when he was about to do die.

    Nevertheless, I too believe that a statute would be foolish. I could not stand this man’s work. His writings on religion and even the arts and pop culture are characterized by the same distortions, haughtiness, and rum-soaked daintiness as his writings on politics.

  • greylocks

    Yes, let’s erect statues to every drunken misogynistic racist blowhard with a cult following.

  • Dan
    • RhZ

      Damn that post is epic! I probably read it before, but am going to go all the way through again.

  • karl

    Sure, the man went off the rails in the aftermath of 9/11 with his support of an overly muscular/moral foreign policy. No doubt,however, most of the commenters here were with the Hitch before his apostasy; an apostasy based, however misguided, on a reverence for Western enlightenment values. He did far more for the left during his glory years than those piss(ant)ing on his grave.

    That said, a statue? Are they crazy?

    • SeanH

      First time I’ve heard the invasion of Iraq called “overly moral”.

    • Walt

      Hitchens is the kind of writer that you like when he panders to you, but when you see him pandering to the other side it’s hard to miss that he’s full of shit.

  • Davis X. Machina

    I doubt this is unprecedented. I’m sure there’s a statue to F.E. Smith somewhere

  • Jay C

    Not that I agree that Christopher Hitchens deserves any sort of “public monument” – but if he did, an ugly stiff dead image of him being urinated on by dogs and defecated on by birds would certainly be appropriate….

  • herr doktor bimler

    Total number of statues to Eric Blair in the UK = 0.

  • wengler

    Take away the rich London wanker accent and Hitch is just a tedious, dull blowhard. Americans need to stop being wooed by the fake intellectual mark they attach to such accents.

  • herr doktor bimler

    I would support a statue for Hitchens if it were equipped with a speaking tube, so that random passers-by could (having dropped a coin in the slot) use it to to deliver the political message of their choice, ventriloquising the dead to coin a phrase.
    Cost recovery, also too.

    • Warren Terra

      I’ll back this only if it includes a breathalyzer. Anyone below a certain alcohol level is obviously inappropriate to be ventriloquizing through a statue of Hitchens.

      (and, still, the plinth I mentioned above).

  • herr doktor bimler

    an apostasy based, however misguided, on a reverence for Western enlightenment values.

    Cobblers. Hitchens’ cooption of enlightenment values to rationalise and justify his positions is not the same as ‘misguided reverence’.

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