A hero, contrarian, and defender of free speach is gone. We knew it was imminant, but this makes it no less easy. These are my thoughts on the great man which I regret not making public before his death.
Christopher Hitchens mattered a lot to me. I’ve had four of his books and a dictionary on my nightstand for the past few years. I’m not the most educated person, and I often have difficulty deciphering his literary references and the nuances in his prose, but he still spoke to my core.
My generation and younger will know him best for his unrelenting disapproval of superstition and religious dogma. His 2007 book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything is what first made me aware of him, but I quickly discovered how impossible it was to align him with any social-political movement for very long. He was a contrarian, but reasoned, educated and logical.
Christopher Hitchens made me want to better myself for the sole purpose of better understanding him. I am grateful for the endless supply of debate, criticism and commentary we have of him, but I am sad we have seen the last of it.
There are some wonderful obituaries popping up around the web today. Vanity Fair has made a page containing some of his columns and videos for the magazine and website. His friend, Christopher Buckley, has written a beautiful piece about his 30 year friendship with him for the New Yorker. And William Grimes has a thorough obituary in the New York Times.
My preferred form of consolation on this sad day, though, would have to come in the form of his absolutely devastating case against the Catholic Church being a force for good in the world (Hitch is the second speaker in this debate spanning multiple videos):
He was truly an eloquent voice for those of us too angry to speak and those of us too fearful to speak for fear of lethal retribution.