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are these guys 12 years old? atheism minus misogyny narcissism rape

Atheist bigwig Sam Harris: “If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.”

This has never occurred to Sam Harris

In an interview a few years back with The Sun magazine, atheist bigwig Sam Harris had this to say about the comparable (de)merits of religion and rape:

If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.

You can read the whole interview starting here.

And some people wonder why so many atheists have broken with Harris and the rest of the Old School New Atheist Boys Club to start Atheism Plus.

EDITED TO ADD: Hadn’t noticed that the interview was from 2006, so maybe this is old news to a lot of atheists. Still horrible.

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thenatfantastic
8 years ago

Note my lack of a tantrum at this news 😉

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

BTW I’m not implying that his writing is childish! It’s just that Less Than Zero came out when I was an actual teenager. Teenage me could, like, totally relate, which in retrospect is rather embarrassing and a sure sign that I was indulging in too many recreational chemicals.

thenatfantastic
8 years ago

Tell me about it, I think I first read it when I was about 15. I’m not a huge fan, I like The Rules of Attraction’s use of different characters’ POV to show the unreliable narration. I really liked the film adaptation of that actually, they showed off the writing style and black humour very effectively, and it’s difficult to convey the style a book’s written in on a screen instead of just re-telling the story.

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

BTW I’m not implying that his writing is childish! It’s just that Less Than Zero came out when I was an actual teenager. Teenage me could, like, totally relate, which in retrospect is rather embarrassing and a sure sign that I was indulging in too many recreational chemicals.

Were you me as a teenager? Teenage me could totally relate to BEE and McInerny. *hangs head in shame*

Skyrimjob has to be Brown Baby. Let’s shit on David Foster Wallace and see what he does. Even G. R. R. Martin will do in a pinch.

cloudiah
8 years ago

I missed a trollsplosion!
So, one of my favorite authors as a teenager was Knut Hamsun. Hunger, Growth of the Soil… Then I found out about his Nazi sympathies and it really did change how I viewed his writing.

Did I just Godwin this thread?

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

@ hellkell

Given that we seem to be married to the same guy too, if we ever meet irl do you think the universe will explode?

(And yes, I liked McInery too. Pretentious little fucker I was, and so sure that I was the most hardcore and angsty person who had ever lived.)

pecunium
8 years ago

Skyrimjob: I’m loving how you’ll all scoff at Hitch and yet sit, slack-jawed, at videos of fucking KITTENS on Youtube. This is hilarious, or would be if it weren’t so sad. Our literary culture really is in the toilet. I’ll continue to appreciate good stuff, thanks.

I’m sorry for you. I read Aquinas. I read Eco (you might want to try, “The Name of the Rose”, since we are discussing books which make one think. The “Annotated Name of the Rose” might help, esp. if you speak neither Latin, nor the understand the arcana, and history of the church; particularly in the period being discussed).

It’s not that Eco fails to moralise, which makes his work better (IMO), than Hitchens, it’s that he allows for the reader to reach a differnt conclusion than he does (and make no mistake, Eco is wrestling with exactly the same questions Hitchens does).

But I read all manner of things, by all manner of writers. I can still appreciate a kitten video, or a bulldog puppy, or kids making a dam to try an catch the water running from a hose. I appreciate them more than an essay; no matter how sublime the writing. I can always revisit the proofs of Newton solving Xeno’s Paradox of finite infinities. The kitten will grow old and die, the scrawled drawing will yellow, and fade, and end up in the rubbish bin.

The morning walk to the train will end, and I will walk home by way of the coffee shop, and the face the barrista made in the foam of latte will be consumed; like a season of calm weather, or a glass in the making

Even if the painting, or the glass lasts, the moments of it’s making don’t.

Those moments, are sublime. Life is full of impermanence, and we enjoy it. That you can’t see 1:The two sides of the coin, and 2: scorn people who enjoy them, because they don’t like the same writer you do, is just sad.

I don’t care for Hitchens. I’ve read enough of him to know the type; he got a good education, one that allows him to toss of allusions most people haven’t the training to spot. He uses that to abuse them; to feel superior (see the, “harry in the night reference, cited above). Worse, he used it to make those who shared that sort of education feel superior to hoi polloi who don’t (and yes, I just used that tool to illustrate the point).

But what he said was banal. It may have been revelatoryto you (and if so, power to you), but it was neither new, nor clever to me. I’m smart. I’m educated. Having someone retread Teresa of Avila, Hildegaard of Bingen, The Bacons, and any number of more modern writers on the Question of Pain, all the while talking down to me, and condescending to me, in his faux collegiallity of the educated set, Did Not Impress.

That it hurts your widdle fee-fees that I abuse the sacred memory of your idol, bothers me not a bit. Hero worsip is a mug’s game. None of ’em were perfect. Lincoln thought blacks were inferior to whites, and would have let slavery linger; had the South not forced his hand. He’s still great, but I’m not going to get offended; certainly not take it personally, when someone tells me about it.

Hitchens was clever, and could be witty. I’ll grant you that, but his “style” wasn’t original, nor were his thoughts, and your adulation doesn’t require me to think so. Your whining scorn is most certainly not going to encourage me to revisit his work, if this is the level of sophmoric defense it creates.

I’ve seen better insults by eight year olds; they were straining the limits of their invention; you aren’t even managing that. What would “HItch” think of the level of your invective?

lauralot89
8 years ago

I should probably get around to reading Less than Zero, considering how much I liked American Psycho (well, the content is horrific and nauseating but I loved the style of writing and the humor/satire worked enough for me to love it even though the violence was absolutely atrocious). Thankfully I was old enough when I discovered American Psycho to avoid falling into the “Patrick Bateman is so COOL” nonsense that seems to permeate most discussions of the film especially.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Hmm, I think that Less than Zero is one of those books that might not hold any appeal at all once you pass a certain age.

lauralot89
8 years ago

Hmm. Maybe I’ll check out The Rules of Attraction instead.

emilygoddess
emilygoddess
8 years ago

It’s not directly related to the topics at hand, but since we’re discussing (1) books that were better when you were a teenager, and (2) authors worshipped by young men who think they know everything, I thought I’d share this quote:

“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.“ (John Rogers)

pecunium
8 years ago

Skyrimjob: It’s fine to have differing tastes. I know that Hitch is not for everyone. But you need a legitimate reason to dislike him, not “I disagreed with him sometimes”.

We gave them. You stamped your feet and cried, “groupthink”.

Go back and look at the list of authors/works alluded to in this thread, then ask yourself (honestly) if the people who were discussing that can’t come to an honest evaluation of a work.

Then try to explain why the critiques of Hitchens fail to meet that honest evaluation.

Also, I’ve yet to see you posting a piece of his that you think is, “sublime”. What is it about his work; in concrete detail, which so pleases you?

Don’t give me pap and pablum about how “sublime, and penetrating” his analysis of things is. Show, don’t tell. Give me a quotation, and explain why it works for you.

Anyway, as Professor Harold Bloom has said, if you’re looking for artistic sublimity, personal politics will only poison your search. You have to suspend that, at least temporarily. Which I’ve already said.

HaHAHAhhaAHHAHAhaHahHHaaaa!

Harold, “Closing of the American Mind” Bloom? The dude who denies the merit of entire swathes of literature because they aren’t the right sort of book?

The point here is you are either stupid, or so wedded to the idea of Hitchens the Great, that you refuse to open your mind to the idea there isn’t any “objective standard” of writing.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

@ emily

Bravo.

pecunium
8 years ago

Cassandra: It might be Mr. Al, but if so it shows a difference in kind for the style. Al has his problems, but his literary sense was a bit more developed (not in terms of whom he liked; which isn’t the issue), but in terms of discussing the subjects.

No, that’s not dispositive (see Dr. Pell, MD, Ph.D, Esq.), but his usual approach has been to sidle up to something he knows we disagree with, and try to edge a point in. This was more frontal assault.

If it’s Mr. AL, he’s backsliding, a way more depressing than merely coming back here.

pecunium
8 years ago

Cassandra: (Random aside – I have visited the cottage where Shakespeare’s girlfriend lived. The doorways were very low. Since we have a lot of people who know a lot about history here – were people really that much smaller back then or was it just customary for doorways to be low? The guide told us that people really were that much smaller, but that seems unlikely to me.)

People were shorter, but not that much (though Richard II was, “The Tallest Man in England” and he stood 5’11” (we have his armor). Average height of men was about 5’6″, women seemed to be about 5’4″. It was a function of 1: style, and 2: durability. If you look at the ceilings of the houses which survive you will find they are quite low.

This is because the rooms on the second floor were added well after the houses were built. Pre-tudor houses tended to be single story, but very tall (for a single story) It’s because brick chimneys, and semi-enclosed hearths hadn’t been invented/added yet. So when they floored the second story, there wasn’t as much room as if it had been purpose built.

And you want a door to be lower than the interior ceiling.

Beds are deceptive, because from the 1400-1700s people slept semi-reclined (hence the very tall headboards).

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

It definitely can’t be Pell since this one can write complete sentences, and there aren’t enough sad attempts at humor for it to be Om Nom.

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

Cassandra: I don’t know what the universe would do!

Then I got into Irvine Welsh and was truly insufferable. His works still stands up, though. The others I’ve re-read not too long ago, and they haven’t aged well.

inurashii
inurashii
8 years ago

omfg how did I miss the fartworld part

how

cloudiah
8 years ago

Ahem, the full name of this alternate universe is “Cassandra’s stupid fartworld.” And the masterful way in which Skyrimjob fleshed out the rich details of this world, well that is an example of the kind of sublimity for which his heroes, Bloom and Hitchens, were well known.

More high-toned literature:

There once was a troll named Skyrimjob
Who was a teensy bit of a lit snob.
When he spoke of his “fartworld”
How manboobzers hearts twirled —
A chance for a feminazi hate mob!

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

The odd thing is that usually when people fanboy over a writer they try to copy that writer’s rhetorical style. No matter how many quibbles I might have with Hitchens I’m quite sure that he could have come up with a better put-down than “stupid fartworld”.

inurashii
inurashii
8 years ago

I wanna play the troll poetry game. I’m gonna go with a double-dactyl for challenge.

Higgledy-pigglety,
Dear little Skyrimjob
Crafts a weak paean to
His hero Hitch,

Chastised by heralds of
Antimisogyny
Shows off his penchant to
Whine, moan, and bitch.

lauralot89
8 years ago

I kind of want to do another of my “Pencunium is better than you” screenplays, but I don’t know where I’d take it after the foam lattes and glass-making.

pecunium
8 years ago

It’s hard… I know that I’m a sad excuse for a real writer. Skyrimjob has told me that, compared to the Almight Hitch (of Sainted Memory), I am not able to craft insightful sentences; I lack the needed sophistication required to design an insult at trenchant and penetrating as, “stupid fartworld” (which is, I am sure, a sign that I have not read enough Hitchens) and am condemned to the realm of “cave scratchings”, which is all the merit he says I have.

It crushes me to see the comparisons; how great my grief that I am barely as elegant as the work to be seen at Lascaux.

A pity I don’t have the level of Hitchens education, so I’d know how terrible such a comparison really is.

pecunium
8 years ago

Lauralot: It was a very nice face. I enjoyed destroying it too. 🙂

ithiliana
8 years ago

SkyTroll announces with great fanfare: ’ve started reading Harold Bloom too, and it’s like he says- to experience the sublime, you have to suspend your political beliefs.

So is the the time to mention that a couple of summers ago, I gave a plenary talk titled:

“Slashing the Fathers: Who’s Anxious Now? Queering Harold Bloom and J. R. R. Tolkien in
Female-Authored Fantasy”

Haven’t had a chance to turn that into an article yet, too much work on grants, and program assessment, and other stuff.

But I really must get to that because it’s a damn fun piece of writing.

“to experience the sublime of slash fiction, you have to suspend your political beliefs”

Yep, a new motto for for slash writers….

ithiliana
8 years ago

@Pecunium: The Closing of the American Mind was actually by Allan Bloom

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Closing_of_the_American_Mind

Easy to get the two Blooms mixed up — but Allan was a classics prof.

Harold is English prof, cordially loathed by all medievalists for his theory that humanity had not sense of individuality until the “Renaissance” (his proof for this; HAMLET), and that before then, especially in the “Dark Ages,” everybody apparently went around in sort of porridge mush of communal something or other.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Bloom

I’ve read The Anxiety of Influence several things, and I tell you, it’s so close to being Harold/Shakespeare slash that it’s…..sublime.

I have a grudge against Harold for his off hand dismissal of Tolkien’s writing style (discussed by John Rateliff, author of the superb HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT manuscript study, here: http://sacnoths.blogspot.com/2011/03/harold-bloom-disses-tolkien-again.html)

And here is a review of Bloom’s critical edition (he set up a sort of assembly line thing at Yale apparently and had a bunch of grad students doing the shit work for a bunch of these edited anthologies): http://greenbooks.theonering.net/turgon/files/082300.html

emilygoddess
emilygoddess
8 years ago

@Cassandra you make a good point about why Skyrimjob isn’t trying to emulate Hitch. Maybe he actually doesn’t know a damn thing about writing beyond “he convinced me to agree with him, therefore he must be a good writer”.

@Skyrimjob

if you’re looking for artistic sublimity, personal politics will only poison your search.

Didn’t I already tell you to GTFO with that mansplaining, “craft is more important than politics” bullshit? It’s easy for men like you and Bloom to dismiss sexism and feminism as mere “personal politics,” but to me and other women, that shit has a direct effect on our lives.

Anyway, I find the argument that one should ignore a writer’s politics kind of strange when those politics are the topic being written about. One is supposed to ignore views one finds abhorrent or harmful because they were presented well? Surely you can understand why some people would disagree with that?

pecunium
8 years ago

Ithilia: So he did. Yes, I confuse them… both were somewhat less than impressive in the erudition, and a bit offensive in the message.

ithiliana
8 years ago

@Pecunium: It’s like they are evil twins separated at birth–both exemplars of how privileged white men throw temper tantrums (but,clearly, sublime ones) when their game is no longer the only game in town.

pecunium
8 years ago

But now that I am refreshed of which Bloom it is… I can see why he also appeals to Skyrimjob… both Bloom, and Hitchens affect the, “I know better than you do what is of merit; agree with me and together we can look down on the fools who don’t appreciate it.”

katz
8 years ago

Ithiliana, I’ve been meaning to ask: You mentioned (and, obviously, correctly) that you can’t convince people that something is good writing through quotes and excerpts. Do you think that writing can’t be evaluated from a small sample, or is it just that a skeptical audience is unlikely to be won over so quickly?

Bagelsan
Bagelsan
8 years ago

Queering Tolkien? *flashes back to years of LotR fanfic* Oh geez yes. Hard not to.

cloudiah
8 years ago

I’m loving how you’ll all scoff at Hitch and yet sit, slack-jawed, at videos of fucking KITTENS on Youtube. This is hilarious, or would be if it weren’t so sad.

Open-access peer-reviewed science is on our side!

Results show that participants performed tasks requiring focused attention more carefully after viewing cute images. This is interpreted as the result of a narrowed attentional focus induced by the cuteness-triggered positive emotion… For future applications, cute objects may be used as an emotion elicitor to induce careful behavioral tendencies in specific situations, such as driving and office work.

Here’s a startled baby red panda:

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

I’m still trying to figure out what taste in literature has to do with liking cat videos. I would ask if Skysulky was under the impression that is was an either/or kind of deal (either read great works of literature or watch cat videos, never both), but let’s face it, we all know that he was just flailing desperately in search of something that might make his argument seem less ridiculous.

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

OMG that was one wonderful trollsplosion! And all while I was asleep.

It struck me this morning that it’s a good thing I don’t have internet across the veil. Conversataion this morning with Mr Kitteh on the subject:

Me: [fills in details of trollsplosion] Isn’t it a good thing we don’t have the Net at Home?* I’d have spent last night saying ‘Wait, wait, Son of Al is melting down, I don’t want to miss this!’

Mr Kitteh sends image of himself going RAAAAARRRRRGH and pulling electric leads out of the wall, then facepalms before getting the giggles.

*I capitalise Home as shorthand for ‘across the veil’.

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

Oh yeah, and if you’re still here, Skytwit: flailing and swearing about kittens (or any animals) just makes you look even more of a turd. At best it says you’re desperate to upset people here (tip: you failed), at worst it says you’re a nasty little creep who can hate on animals. Either way, you lose.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Definition of a truly miserable person – feels bitter rage when other people coo over videos of cute animals. Definition of a truly miserable person who is also a troll – feels bitter rage because the other people are cooing over cute animals when they should be telling him that his reading/musical preferences make him the Most Awesome Person Ever, has public meltdown during which he uses the phrase “stupid fartworld” in the middle of an attempt to prove how intelligent and erudite he is.

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

Dismal Desmond the kitten-video hater.

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

Oh, going back to the heights thing, I was talking to M the coffee-shop-owner-from-France the other day, and he said it’s funny, but at home he’s average height (5′ 7″) while here in Australia he can’t see over the crowd.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

One thing that I love about spending time in some parts of Asia is that I actually get to be of average height for once. It’s nice to have hang straps on the bus be at a height that doesn’t make me feel like I’m about to dislocate my arm.

In Holland on the other hand I felt like I was in a chapter from Gulliver’s Travels.

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

Oh, rotten hanging straps! The ones on our trains were made by some twits who seem to think that everyone is at least six feet tall. Worse than that, some of the trains have bars at the height the straps would hang from, and you’re expected to hold on to those. I can barely reach ’em on tiptoe (I’m 5′ 4″).

ithiliana
8 years ago

@Katz: You mentioned (and, obviously, correctly) that you can’t convince people that something is good writing through quotes and excerpts. Do you think that writing can’t be evaluated from a small sample, or is it just that a skeptical audience is unlikely to be won over so quickly?

Ooh, intriguing question. Probably both!

Well, part of it is what Pecunium noted: “good” is subjective, so to argue that X writing is good, you need to explain what “good” means in this context, and, what the context is, including the genre: what is GOOD writing for a business memo–and there can be badly written memos, heh, is not likely to be the same as good writing for a sonnet. And I think the more expert with the genres the person making the claim is, the more likely they are to be able to develop a strong set of criteria AND to be able to muster the evidence.

Second, yes, I do not think a small sample, just a few quotes, is likely to persuade anybody–well, except maybe somebody who agrees with the argument (if there is one), and who isn’t used to analyzing language (which most people aren’t–we respond to language, but most aren’t trained to analyze the rhetorical elements of texts). And a lot of people think that if they like something, it’s self-evidently good (which it is–for them!).

A sceptical audience is generally likely to demand more in the way of evidence, I suspect (in my college writing courses, I tend to make it easier on students–especially in the first year courses. Write to a neutral audience, I say, those who have not made up their mind, and try to convince them of your point–and even then it’s hard for many of the students). In the upper level literary courses, the audience is someone who knows the primary text, but not the scholarship (although the kind of argument I teach aren’t focusing on whether the writing is “good” or “bad” — they’re analytical and interpretive).

I am spacing out on the name of the scholar who did a sort of quasi experiment (decades ago, now). He gave college undergrads some famous poems by famous authors WITHOUT the names attached and asked them to evaluate the writing. The undergrads, not tipped off by famous name (and presumably not recognizeing them), evaluated them all as badly written.

Dang, I hate forgetting names….

katz
8 years ago

But surely, given a known genre, you can evaluate an excerpt based on certain criteria without being too controversial. “Is it grammatically correct?” would be an obvious criterion, as is “Does the author make his or her point clear?”

pecunium
8 years ago

ithiliana: I remember that. I don’t recall who did it either.

katz
8 years ago

I haven’t heard of that study, but I’d believe it. My high school freshman English class had a bit of a revolt against The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, even though our teacher said it was the poem that made her want to study English XD

Falconer
8 years ago

@katz: The snobby part of me wants to say your class just didn’t get it.

I’ve viewed Prufrock as a satire for as long as I’ve known it.

Come to think of it, the first place I encountered it was in a book from the Pythons, in which context I thought “as a patient etherized upon a table” was just the Ps taking the piss.

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

Ithiliana, that experiment reminds me of endless discussions I’ve had on an amateur writing site, and with friends who’ve been published. So much of the advice about what’s “good writing” or what are OMG DEADLY WRITING SINS ends up being about what’s fashionable rather than about effective use of English. There seems to have been a real “if it isn’t choppy faux-Hemingway, it isn’t good writing” idea among some US agents and publishers, and this gets reflected in the advice handed out. Friend of mine, the writer of the Griffin’s Daughter fantasy trilogy, had this sort of nonsense from her ex-agent, saying her next book (currently in publishing process) would never get a publisher, nobody reads this sort of thing, the writing style is wrong, blah blah blah.

drst
drst
8 years ago

You know, nobody actually needs to have a good (i.e. “logical to Skydude or any other dude”) reason not to like ANYTHING.

I’ve never read a word of Hitchens that I know of. I never will. I don’t need to justify that. There’s tons of stuff out there – literature, movies, music, food, travel destinations, types of cars, you name it – that I just don’t like. Sometimes I have reasons (I can’t stand the texture of beans), sometimes I don’t (No seafood). And I get to do that, without having people trying to compel me to change my mind, my habits, my likes and dislikes, and I don’t owe anyone an explanation.

So dear Skytrolldude, I get to exist with my unique feelings about whatever, and I don’t have to justify my existence to you.

Also? I have never read a word Hitchens wrote, and I never will, and there’s nothing you can do to change that.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

Bur drst, don’t you care that you’re condemning yourself to live in a stupid fartworld? DON’T YOU?

About assessing good writing – the way I’d put it is that you often need quite extensive samples and a basic familiarity with the genre in order to determine whether or not a piece of writing is really good, but with bad writing short samples are often enough to be able to make that call.

It’s interesting that the Hitchens sample that our petulant friend chose actually hit several of the markers for “wow this writing is fucking terrible”. I don’t think that proves that Hitchens was a terrible writer in general so much as that SkyTroll doesn’t have a good enough instinctive sense of how language works to pick a good sample.

pecunium
8 years ago

Cassandra: Did rimjob actually post it? I thought it was someone else pointing out what it was about Hitchens they didn’t like.