Frat Boys

We’ve been discussing the personal argumenative habits of Hitchens in comments lately, so this seems like a highly relevant item. Also hilarious, also interesting. I mean to say – if he takes such obvious pleasure in publicly fighting with his brother, it’s hardly surprising that he fights with other people too, is it. My only claim is that whatever rude remarks he makes at the dinner table, they’re not likely to be secret or underhanded – on the contrary, the chances are excellent that he’s just made them on tv or in the Guardian, and will do it again but with more embellishments tomorrow.

His brother knows that, at least, even if not everyone else does:

You should have done what you do in almost any other occasion when you disagree with someone, you should have argued about it, and then we would have reached this position much earlier. Silence is never an answer to anything.

I disagree with that last remark, by the way. Sheer nonsense. Silence is often an answer to many things. People who irritate, for instance. One doesn’t always want to go to all the trouble of explaining to people why one finds them so immensely irritating and therefore won’t be talking to them anymore, does one. Especially if one of the chief reasons they are so irritating is the fact that they can’t seem to figure out for themselves what is so irritating about them, and stop being that way. I mean, why should we do their homework for them? I don’t see it. If they want to know why we don’t like them anymore, they should just give the matter some good hard thought, that’s what. That’s not our job.

It’s a great credit to our father, who was very conservative, that he never attempted to inculcate any politics into either of us, there were no heretical positions in the family. The real difference between Peter and myself is the belief in the supernatural. I’m a materialist and he attributes his presence here to a divine plan. I can’t stand anyone who believes in God, who invokes the divinity or who is a person of faith. I mean, that to me is horrible repulsive thing.

See what I mean? No need to wait for a convivial dinner table or gathering at the bar; there it all is right out in the open. And a fine thing too. Peter makes a very silly (and extremely, maddeningly, familiar) reply. I’m not on speakers with Peter either!

He has several faiths. He has the faith I think of Darwinism, which is just like Christianity, an unproveable theory, which you can believe if you want because you prefer that arrangement of the universe. I happen to think the arrangement of the universe based on the belief in intelligent life is more tolerable than both morally and aesthetically, but he prefers another. I dislike only the attitude that his atheism is not a faith, because it is.

No. It. Isn’t.

And note the linking of what you ‘can’ believe with what you prefer, the casual closing of the is-ought gap. And that’s not even true, actually. It is not possible to believe things we would prefer to be true if we don’t in fact believe them. Everybody knows that.

IK Are you two friends?

PH No. There was an old joke in East Germany that went, Are the Russians our friends or our brothers? And the answer is, they must be our brothers because you can choose your friends.

CH The great thing about family life is that it introduces you to people you’d otherwise never meet.

There’s something terrifically satisfying in that. Especially to someone tired of the cloying American diet of ‘family values.’ Are you friends? No.

PH They want everything to be all right.

CH They want a happy ending – that’s their problem.

That is the happy ending. Implacable hostility: that’s the happy ending.

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