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Hitchens - Sharpton Debate

Chris Matthews Hardball debate featuring Christopher Hitchens author of God is not Great vs. the Reverand Al Sharpton


Part 1



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Harball w/Chris Matthews

Part 2



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Comments

Jesus Christ! Seriously, does Sharpton even listen to himself when he talks. His hypocrisy is astounding. Too bad Hitchens is such an attention whore, he already proved the point about "religion poisons everything" when Sharpton made the bigoted comment about Romney during the CNN debate and reassured that bigotry when he responded to Romney's comments. If Sharpton could keep his mouth shut for more than a second, Hitchens would make his point. I honestly thought the debate would be better though, but then I forgot that it was Chris Matthews. I still haven't caught the whole debate. Sharpton sure is one angry religious person though. Hitchens (probably drunk) mostly kept his cool.

i'm so saddened that this even needs to be debated. people who believe in a personified god are flat out fucking stupid.

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as much as i have come to appreciate hitchens wit (thanks norm...i think) i thought they both sounded pretty dumb, but funny. hitchens intentionally so, and sharpton unintentionally. sharptons' hammering at hitchens position on iraq was unfair in context (or not in context, actually) and hitchens self-satisfied holier-than-thouism was grating at times. they both sounded like a couple of schoolkids. and hitchins describing the "mad jewish settlers", out of all possible choices, as among the "main enemies of civilization" was just ridiculous, as was his description of post-monica clinton as being in the constant company of a bible with the cross prominently displayed as well as-who was it- robertson and falwell? whatever, it sounded to me like sharpton was trying to stick to a strategy bought from a cadre of advisors, and hitchens was doing his giggly schoolboy thing completely off the cuff. which, i guess, means they were well matched. thats kind of pathetic, though, i think.

I think I'll spare you all the segment where Hitchens defends the war and his conviction that Scooter Libby should be pardoned.

Jonathan, It is true I think that the "mad jewish settlers" are a fine example of religion as the problem and not the solution. I'm interested in your view on the point he made about the Palestinian Israeli conflict and the chances for a solution.

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Did Sharpton actually just say that there has to be a God or there's be no gravity?

Did he really question why we stick to this mudball and not fly off?

Did he just posit that if God doesn't exist then WE must be responsible for gravity's hold on us?

Does such an idiotic person even need to be responded to on any further questions?

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there'd

My brief thoughts:

  1. Sharpton was right to point out that arguing against the human practice of religion does not have anything to do with the question of whether a god exists or not.

  2. Sharpton's argument about religion and gravity was a softball that Hitchens should have knocked up the Washington mall, but didn't for some reason.

  3. The question about morality was a bit of a dodge from Hitchens. He nicely disconnected it from religious origins, but IMO failed to satisfactorily describe it's "innateness". (I don't know why athiests are such pussies and can't admit to a kind of moral relativism but just say that the relativist quality lies outside the boundaries of our society, which is clearly in constant struggle with setting those boundaries on issues with which people disagree but fixed in terms by which they almost entirely agree unanimously.)

  4. I was surprised and pleased that there were some "out" athiests in the crowd. Vocal too.

  5. Overall Hitchens "won" this debate, but only because he is on the right side of the argument. It doesn't take much to be the one to point out the emperor is naked- but much harder for someone who's sure he's clothed to keep up the ruse. No need for all the dodging Hitchens, just keep pointing and saying "no clothes" and you're done.

  1. Oh, and one of those dodges have to do with WMD and Iraq. Hitchens needs to just fucking admit he was dead wrong on that one and move on.

It is ashame that Hitchen's is pro-war I think but it is the beauty of the sort of free-thinking he talks about that it is OK to question and criticise his war opinion based on evidence. If it was a religious leader that both believed in God and supported the war, those two positions must be taken together where as here the two positions can be divorced.

Is it just me or is part three and part four identical? I think there has been a mixup.

Hitchens says that there can be no proof to say that God exists, that's not and atheist believes that God does not exist, or doesn't believe that God exists. - and AGNOSTIC believes there is an insufficient amount of proof, and that the nature of existence itself doesn't provide enough of a basis for belief. Hitchens is actually a loud mouthed Agnostic, posing as an Atheist.

Is it just me or is part three and part four identical? I think there has been a mixup.

Tim, It was for about 5 minutes. I fixed it. Try reloading the page.

Perhaps religion is a pseudo-economic issue, as well. Because more is preferred to less (the law of demand and such), those with religion, when asked to look at evidence/facts in such a way that causes them to lose their faith, most likely feel that they are losing something of value and, perhaps subconsciously, completely ignore the data and argue irrationally for their faith.

I, being someone who could care less about personal gain and only really want truth, was more than happy to yield to the evidence with regard to my faith when confronted with science and philosophy. Perhaps others are simply not.

I suppose our economic model could play into it, as well. Capitalism is all about profit and so forth, so any profit, no matter how small, that the American populace gains from faith, most likely makes it [seem] worth their while even if it is contradictory to what they sense.

I remember hearing Dawkins say that in Britain, if one is religious and a scientist, he or she must almost apologize for holding such irrational beliefs to his or her fellow scientists. I am sure this happens in other countries, as well, but not in the United States, it seems. Could it be our obtain-as-much-as-possible attitudes that allows for this?

I just now wonder if religion is somehow hardwired into the mental states of many Americans, I guess.

Zack,

Most of us here are defacto atheists as is Christopher Hitchens. We don't rule out the possibility of a God, but consider it so unlikely that for all practical purposes we say God doesn't exist. Just like you might say that The Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't exist. Here is a discussion of the subject from Dawkins book.

http://onegoodmove.org/1gm/1gmarchive/2006/10/agnosticism.html

I am an atheist but I don’t see a freethinking person when I look at hitches. He stubborn and arrogant as though he is religious. His fear of Muslims is so unbelievable that it surely dictates some of what he says. And I don’t like how he attacks people personally. I like Dawkins. He is always calm, to the point and absolutely pleasing to listen to.

I can't stand listening to Sharpton anymore. All his bullshit is "You're evading the question" such as the instance about absolute moral truths, when Hitchens answered it. Mindless religious gasbag.

I believe the world would be much better off without religion. That being said if we could just get people to take the same view of Reverand Al Sharpton on religion then at least it would be a step in the right direction. Al Sharpton might be wrong but at least his view on religion is harmless.

On the other hand Al Sharpton have had from the start the right view on the Iraq war while Hitchens took a view that I believe was harmful to our country. Hitchen defended Bush on his lead off to the war. A dangerous war led by a president that has dangerous views on religion.

I agree with Hitchens on pretty much everything he says about religion but he been wrong on other issues of great importance.

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I'm interested in your view on the point he made about the Palestinian Israeli conflict and the chances for a solution.

sorry norm, i don't recall the point and don't really want to watch the whole thing again (thought its certainly worth one viewing). if you could nutshellize it for me i'd be happy (as you know i always am) to tell you what i think. and i'll keep it short, don't worry.

I'm not an atheist, but I know religion and its ideas on a god, gods, the God to be false. If forced to pick an "ism" for what best describes that, I'd choose areligionist, as opposed to antireligionist, because though I oppose religion I don't define myself as an antithesis to it.

I've listened to the audiobook of Christopher Hitchens' god is Not Great, and I think everything he says in it is true, and it was probably one of the best and most enjoyable reads (listens) I've ever completed. If anybody has the audiobook of Dawkins' tome send her my way :)

I don't have many thoughts on this thoughtless diatribe between Sharpton and Hitchens other than these scant few impressions:

1 - Hitchens needs not to back down from pacifists who would permit genocide by regimes like Saddam's Iraq or Bashir's Sudan, especially if they hide behind the guile of religious pacifism. However, he should just offer his mea culpa for being mislead into thinking Bush was capable of handling Iraq properly.

2 - Al Sharpton is the lowest scum snake oil salesman imaginable, his debating tactics depreciate his already hollowed out character, and he offered nothing in this debate. Hitchens slammed a home run on him by demanding to know why a secular civil rights leader was incapable of something that we ought to commend a religious person's religion for.

3 - This was a very fun video, but the medium, Hardball, is disgusting shlock. This is Jerry Springer for news junkies.

always amazes me when people start talking about the law. People are CLUELESS. Murder, rape, larceny always come up, as if we dont have other laws in this country such as patent law, constitutional law, tort law, trade secret law....I can go on and on, and none of these laws have anything to do with inherent fairness or a higher power, they are simply man made. But no, people keep on wanting some sort of certainty, they want to BELIEVE that laws pop out of some magical place beyond human control.

This "debate" (it's never a debate when it's one sided) is difficult to watch. Sharpton is just very angry. He seems offended that there is someone who would hold a different opinion. There has never been a debate on the existence of a god. The theist has a belief which he never supports with fact, the Atheist simply awaits for the theist to start the debate.

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well, i was so curious i went back and listened to the whole damn thing again. i wasn't watching, i was doing something else with the audio in the background, but i apparantly missed it again. what point did hitchens make about possible solutions for the mideast crisis?

what i didn't miss, though, and i hate myself already for even thinking this, was that sharpton was correct most of the time about hitchens dodging questions and that i was in general impressed with his reasoning capability. i say this as someone who has never liked the guy, always considered him a lowbrow rabble rouser and certainly no intellect. but if i had to make a call on who "won" this ridiculous soundbite-fest, i'd have to say sharpton. yuk. i can't believe i not only thought that, but put it in writing here, of all places. i feel dirty.

as far as hitchens point go (the ones i didn't miss), i felt pretty sure i could have refuted most of them, not that i would want to. and he, along with his "militant" atheist bretheren, is CONSTANTLY making statements about judaism that are simply false, often by lumping it in unfairly with christianity, but sometimes just so. assuming he is not actually ignorant of the finer points of these matters, i can only assume a sloppy yet intentional use of straw man, and i call bullshit. only one of many examples:

he says (i paraphrase from memory) that all monotheistic religions present some warped and repressive view of female sexuality, and that "most" of these views were perpetrated upon these poor, helpless women by elderly, unqualified celibates. this is simply untrue of judaism, and i don't know enough to speak for islam. i'm aware of the extreme sexual repressiveness in islam, meaning sexISM, and you could make a case that it also exists in judaism (though i would argue the point), but the weird, neurotic "sex is dirty" trip that he was talking about is a specifically christian invention. and there are no celibates in judaism.

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well, i was so curious i went back and listened to the whole damn thing again. i wasn't watching, i was doing something else with the audio in the background, but i apparantly missed it again. what point did hitchens make about possible solutions for the mideast crisis?

what i didn't miss, though, and i hate myself already for even thinking this, was that sharpton was correct most of the time about hitchens dodging questions and that i was in general impressed with his reasoning capability. i say this as someone who has never liked the guy, always considered him a lowbrow rabble rouser and certainly no intellect. but if i had to make a call on who "won" this ridiculous soundbite-fest, i'd have to say sharpton. yuk. i can't believe i not only thought that, but put it in writing here, of all places. i feel dirty.

as far as hitchens points go (the ones i didn't miss), i felt pretty sure i could have refuted most of them, not that i would want to. and he, along with his "militant" atheist bretheren, is CONSTANTLY making statements about judaism that are simply false, often by lumping it in unfairly with christianity, but sometimes just so. assuming he is not actually ignorant of the finer points of these matters, i can only assume a sloppy yet intentional use of straw man, and i call bullshit. only one of many examples:

he says (i paraphrase from memory) that all monotheistic religions present some warped and repressive view of female sexuality, and that "most" of these views were perpetrated upon these poor, helpless women by elderly, unqualified celibates. this is simply untrue of judaism, and i don't know enough to speak for islam. i'm aware of the extreme sexual repressiveness in islam, meaning sexISM, and you could make a case that it also exists in judaism (though i would argue the point), but the weird, neurotic "sex is dirty" trip that he was talking about is a specifically christian invention. and there are no celibates in judaism.

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sorry about the double post. probably subconcious revenge for having to listen to this thing twice.

Zack wrote: Hitchens is actually a loud mouthed Agnostic, posing as an Atheist.

Is that supposed to be an insult or some kind of damning expose? So what?

Actually, Hitchens describes himself as an anti-deist.

Drunk or sober, Hitchens is an exceptionally brilliant and witty polemicist and writer.

I read God Is Not Great from cover to cover and marveled at his clarity of expression and scholarship.

Yes, he is, IMO, wrong on issues such as Iraq... bullheadedly, terribly, tragically wrong. But because a person is wrong on one or several issues does not necessarily discredit that person entirely. If I were ill, and my doctor was the best in the world, I would not discount his diagnosis because he thinks Scooter Libby should be pardoned.

i agree with contributor "bored" above.

i can't imagine how anyone can conclude that sharpton carried the day on this one. hitchens hit his main points hard and eloquently while sharpton had no good points to share... EXCEPT for this one, and i do believe hitchens failed to answer it, criticism of religion inevitably is criticism of past and existing man made implementations of religion and doesn't address the issue of the existence of qualities of god.

now there are other arguments that deal with that. russell's teapot and flying spaghetti and all that. dawkins routinely fields those and i am somewhat surprised that hitchens chose not to.

nevertheless, hitchen still 'won' by a wide margin by raising point after point about how irrational beliefs lead people to horrible acts. in addition, he managed to be darkly funny, especially when the faced with the nonsensical question... what was that all about??

-- oskar

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cmon Hitchens, you can do better than this :/. He failed to explain innate morality, and failed to address the question on religious people doing good things.

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Why are Hitchens and Sharpton arguing about God in the middle of the road while blocking a column of pedestrians?

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cmon Hitchens, you can do better than this :/. He failed to explain innate morality, and failed to address the question on religious people doing good things.

Sharpton is an intolerant religious fanatic. Not only doesn't he listen to a careful argument that can't be summed up in a sound bite, he seems that he can understand such an argument.

I haven't seen the whole thing yet, but I remember his previous encounter with Hitchens and it is interesting that he doesn't go very far to defend xian dogma but rests on his belief that the invisible santa claus in the sky must exist.

Any Black American who accepts xianity still has a slave mentality. Xianity is the superstitious belief of the white racist slavers. It is shameful for a Black person to worship their god and respect their religion.

He doesn't respond to the question of why he believes in his santa claus. Of course that is difficult for him because there is no reason to believe.

Here is a video report on Mitt Romney's magic underwear.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsXzHLiHTOU

dawkins routinely fields those and i am somewhat surprised that hitchens chose not to.

Oskar, you should read Hitchens book. Unlike Dawkins, he does not spend much time, if any, making the case against the existence of God. His book is a condemnation of religion and religious practices.

The sensational main title of his book was probably a marketing ploy meant to pique controversy. The subtitle, "How Religion Poisons Everything", is more descriptive of the book's contents.

He failed to explain innate morality, and failed to address the question on religious people doing good things.

It's hard to make complex arguments in such a soundbite shoutfest format as the Hairball show. Although he does have some well-prepared zingers, Hitchens is best when allowed to fully develop his points in an extended format.

Sharpton is just very angry. He seems offended that there is someone who would hold a different opinion

Not exactly. This is what Sharpton said to Hitchens:

I have not said that people that are non believers can't do great things. You are the one that's saying people who are believers are some idiots and so silly. I have respect for people not having their beliefs

sharpton was correct most of the time about hitchens dodging questions

Well, neither one of them really answered questions very well. I think that this kind of format, with everyone constantly interrupting each other doesn't lend itself to a reasoned debate.

But the bozo of the day award goes to Sharpton with his "where did we get gravity, etc" as TheRealChristopher said.

Chris matthews should be thrown off television. Forever. He's horrible. Can't ask questions, can't moderate, can't form a complete sentance. As rediculous as Sharpton looks in these debates, Matthews Looks like Bubbling ooze scraped off of CNN's teleprompter.

Here's where i think Hitchins has problems with these debates.

He housed Rushdie during the "Fatwa", only increasing his distaste for the Muslim beliefs. This has grown for so many years that he sees Muslims as the "worst" faith, even to the point where he will support any war by us to stop their control of the middle east. He is so biased, he refuses to see that this war is also held up by religious offerings (even though when you look at the history of the leadup to the war, It's pretty evident God has nothing to do with the US going to war, Bush just says that shit to get people to stop asking questions").

Hitchins does better when he doesn't get shouted over by the other guest AND the moderator. His points are well crafted, and long, and if you shout over any part of it, it's easy to take it out of context and say "you are dodging the question". It's all a part of the answer and Sharpton is too eager to attack to hear the rest of it.

I don't understand this "dog and pony show".

Why would Christopher Hitchens argue with a man that says "axe" instead of "ask"? Why would he waste his time with a lightweight like Sharpton?

Ohhhh...the book, that's right!

all monotheistic religions present some warped and repressive view of female sexuality

Didn't I read something recently about fundamentalist Jews not wanting the women on the bus? What was it uncovered, not in the front some stupid form of putting them in their place.

I was just asking if you agreed that the fundamentalist on both sides have prevented a meaningful two state solution.

Do you recall a specific question that Hitchens didn't address, that he ducked?

criticism of religion inevitably is criticism of past and existing man made implementations of religion and doesn't address the issue of the existence of qualities of god.

Those implementations as you call them are the only ones available. There is no evidence of a God other than what is made up by man. Addressing the qualities of a God in some other context is nonsensical.

What "practical purposes"?

Going on TV and trying to end all religious squabbles by trying to announce that one doesn't exist? Being on a best sellers list?

It's a personal belief - I don't agree with anybody telling anybody else what to- not to believe. From fundamental atheist to Orthodox Christians and the like

Proselytizers have the concept of self-discovery backwards, they are not enlightened. At the same time, the pretentious that wish to deny one their spiritual opinions, whether that's to fall-in line, combine or dream-up an inter-personal answer, seek power for themselves. -z

The idea that the world is 100% random makes less sense to me than the FSM creating it.

Hitchens believes in a dangerous world wherein we must protect ourselves and our values. I find this view compelling, but I am not so hubristic to claim I have worked it all out.

Please, would a critic of The War present a long-range scenario describing global economic stability. When I look at state of U.S. society I am not reassured. I will at least entertain the idea that a society needs an organizing principal, the idea that human aggression must be utilized by the economy or this aggression will undermine the economy, the idea that Islam represents a Dark Age of thought and values that must be resisted and defeated, the idea that the potentially gathering energy-water-environmental crisis requires exploiting militant tactics to be resisted.

These are ugly ideas, thoughts I would prefer to ignore. Yet, reason demands that a critique of Hitchens' support for The War address these questions.

Respecting religion (punny), starting from the basis of knowledge most of this backNforth can be avoided. "What can we know, and how can we know it?" If one does not begin here what sense can be made? Personally, I reject magical thinking. If the world is capricious I cannot rely on reason. If I cannot rely on reason there is no thinking. If I cannot think I have been reduced to Kafka's insect. If I am but a bug the World is naught but so much sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Read what I wrote again Zack, in context this time. Your response is nonsensical.

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Didn't I read something recently about fundamentalist Jews not wanting the women on the bus?

no.the issue was a woman who didn't want to (or couldn't, don't remember) abide by the rules on an ultra-orthadox bus line (yes, there are such things)on which the separation of women from men is the rule.she was badly abused (verbally) by one of the male passengers. this may point to sexISM in ultra-orthodox society, which i won't attempt to deny the existence of-although it has no basis, imo, in jewish law- but not sexual repression, which is what hitchens was talking about. you do understand the difference, i trust. to illustrate: in jewish law a wife may demand sexual satisfaction from her husband. his inability or unwillingness to provide it is grounds for divorce, with full payment of the ketubah (monetarily based marriage contract).

I was just asking if you agreed that the fundamentalist on both sides have prevented a meaningful two state solution.

no. i think i have some idea of what you're referring to as "fundamentalist" on both sides. in the case of the arabs, this is in fact the majority opinion, not some sidelined minority. in the case of the jews (ok, the israeli jews) it really is a sidelined minority. if you're talking about the settlements, it may interest you to know that less than half of the some 200,000 settlers (already a tiny minority) are religious and of those, only a small percentage could be described as fundamentalist. i object to any attempt at equivicating (is that a word?) the influence of arab fundamentalism with the influence of jewish fundamentalism in terms of their presenting an obstacle to a "meaningful two state solution"- whatever that means to you.

Do you recall a specific question that Hitchens didn't address, that he ducked?

yes, almost all of them. the one that springs to mind, simply because of the sheer silliness of the question and the misleading, contentious obtuseness of the answer was sharptons foolishly phrased, yet legitimate query:"i believe that god created gravity. what do you believe created gravity?" an honest answer on hitchens' part would have been "look, the scientific explanation for gravity cannot be reduced to a soundbite as your ridiculous god based "explanation" can. if you're really interested, see me after the show, but lets move on to more substantial matters that can be dealt with in this moronic format". instead, he went on to talk about something entirely unrelated, which sharpton (correctly)called him on. he pulled this shtick on almost every question, usually going for humor, i think, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. but, in almost every case being evasive, which sharpton pointed out at least 3 or 4 times correctly. the brilliant, drunken schoolboy wears thin, norm.

and i still don't know what you mean by hithchens' point about a solution to the mideast mess.

I'm not sure that people like Dawkins and Hitchins are really good for athiesm. They've been popularizing it which is refreshing but I'm starting to grow concerned that they're merely converting a flock of sheep. They're recycling a small number of anecdotes with a smaller number of arguments (although good ones). The concern is that with a little coaxing, atheism could go out of style just as quickly as it's been popularized.

"Didn't I read something recently about fundamentalist Jews not wanting the women on the bus? What was it uncovered, not in the front some stupid form of putting them in their place."

Exactly. Yes, you can hear the Neocons shout, Muslim women have few to no rights in any Islamic countrys. But imagine being one of the israeli women: you might have some "constitutional" rights, but if you're travelling to the socalled Wailing Wall on a bus, then it's gender apartheid for you, or as my professor called it, "bus circumcision" which is mentally as aborhant as all the other type of female circumcision.

Islamic sexism? You find just as bad in Israel, plus genocide.

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jeez-a-WIZ, sarah. you and your professor deserve each other, your both working on full ignoramus status. please refer to my post above and tell me if i erred in my decription of the one (1) incident in question. then tell me you know something (anything) about the mutually agreed upon physical separation of the sexes in ultra-orthodox society. then tell me how you've studied the legality and morality of privately operated (in america) and publicly operated specialty lines (in israel)which cater to this (admittedly weird) public. then again compare the practice with female circumcision. (!) and throw in genocide just for good measure. what is that, the prize in the cornflake box? because "flake" is the word that comes to mind.

I really respect Reverend Sharpton, I don't agree with his point of view about God, but he's not a buffoon like Hitchens. The guy is so captious, unpleasant and negative, and he's still after the weapons of mass destruction deal. Sharpton also makes one of the few arguments that didn't make me want to barf.

I understand Jonathan. People do tend to think that by reading about another country, they know everything that there is to know.

We each draw our own conclusions based upon our knowledge of what we've read, who we've met and where we've been.

What we read is limited.

Who we've met from any given culture, other than our own, is limited.

Even the experiences we've had from where we've been are limited, depending upon both how long we stayed there and how much we got out of it.

I don't think that too many people really know either Israel or Palestine is really like.

I know I don't. All I know about is what I read from various different sources, all with their own point of view.

I have corresponded with both Jews and Muslims. From this little teeny tiny window all i can say is that the Jews I've corresponded with are sexually liberal and open and easy going. The Muslim correspondents have all been very very careful to mention anything having to do with sexuality. The way that they act reminds of Victorian values.

And as Jonathan often says (and which amuses Eric), tell me to shut up now. I understand.

I think Reverend Al is Scum. His whole income is based on helping people apologize for saying the N'Word.

That said, I think Hitchens lost the debate. He was too coy. made a joke out of too many questions and never directly answered the Gravity Question. Then of course he got linked to right wing fundamentlaist political philosophy, which I am sure alienated the viewers he hadn't ticked off already.

So the ultra-orthodox society is not really jewish? If the state condones the practice, do they, of seperate buses for the sexes then they are at least in part endorsing such practices. I love the way Christians, Jews, and Muslims discount believers that embarrass them with the claim that they are not the 'real' deal. Who gets to decide what the 'real deal' is when it comes to religion?

Sharpton is a religious man in the baptist tradition. Although most people think that baptists are knee jerk conformists and conservatives, in fact it is a religion which requires each person to find his or her own way by interpreting the bible for themselves. It's just that most American baptists have lost sight of this.

I've been to Sharpton's church a few times and it is the only church in Harlem that welcomes gays, the congregation came to that decision on their own and convinced Al to drop the anti-gay ideas found in other church. My point is that it seemed like such and open place and the people were willing to learn and change their ideas.

That's what made this debate so interesting, because you have conservative atheist against a religious liberal! I thought it was great.

"So the ultra-orthodox society is not really jewish? If the state condones the practice, do they, of seperate buses for the sexes then they are at least in part endorsing such practices."

again Norm exactly. Our 'state' condones the practice of prohibiting same-sex marriges. Is our homoapartheid so different from the muslim world? (and many muslim women accept the safety of the burqa in a sexist world).

Israel is an ultra-orthodox society that is jewish and gender and racially as discriminatory than the Islamic world (and remember that the 'unseen' mental sexual discrimination in israel and the 'west' is as bad or worse as the 'seen' discrimination in the 'western' media).

and 'jonathan becker' my professor is a published phd academic, but i don't know about you.

From this little teeny tiny window all i can say is that the Jews I've corresponded with are sexually liberal and open and easy going.

I grew up in Ohio and I thought this too, then I moved to NYC. Jewish people come in all stripes just like any other kind of people. There are communities here that are quite conservative, you don't find that in other parts of the US.

I think at times reports of "Islamic sexism" get blown out of proportion. Most of the Muslim people I know are quite secular. Also, we fail to realize that sexism is rampant in the USA. People get so hung up on the burkhas like it's the most awful thing in the world. Isn't it just as awful to hold women to sexist beauty standards where women must be thin?

I think that the strongest point in these video that the atheist made was the way that region has been behind a lot of the harm that has been done to people. You can't argue with that. But cultural norms can also harm people you don't need religion for these things to take hold, just a critical mass of people who are willing to impose their ideals on others at any cost.

I grew up in Ohio and I thought this too, then I moved to NYC. Jewish people come in all stripes just like any other kind of people. There are communities here that are quite conservative, you don't find that in other parts of the US.

Like i said... I have a little teeny tiny window. I know that my understanding of this complex "issue" (that's the best word I could come up with) is limited.

Yeah, racism lives... even here on the internets. I wonder if SueMe has anything intelligent to add to our converastion but hate?

Nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger. Come on and sue me Al. Nigger, nigger, nigger

You need some therapy.. sigh...

But cultural norms can also harm people you don't need religion for these things to take hold, just a critical mass of people who are willing to impose their ideals on others at any cost.

Yes.

Okay. All together now... Kumbaya... :-D

Why did I imagine my small voice would carry?

I can sum up the whole debate in 50 words or less.

Hitchens attacks religion. Sharpton attacks hitchens for attacking religion and not disproving god exists. Chris Matthew pretends to moderate while he fantasizes about the next time he'll get to see ann coulter for a whole hour.

Wow... I never got this impression before (even from the previous debate) but Sharpton manages the dual distinction of being both spectacularly ignorant and extraordinarily aggressive: shouting, bellowing, wantonly misinterpreting, not listening to his interlocutor, interrupting, throwing up straw man after straw man - this really isn't a particularly nice man, is it? Is this just him on a particularly bad day or something?

"How many people in this outdoor place under god believe in god?"

That's an extraordinary question, don't you think? Out of interest - how does Matthews know what noise the hijackers were making when they flew the planes into the buildings?

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norm, for someone who hates as much as you do having words put in your mouth, i'm surprised at your willingness to do it to others- at least when the subject is jews or israel and your emotions get in the way. really, you remind me of spock after he sniffed that flower. except instead of getting all warm 'n fuzzy, you get all mean 'n nasty.

you know i neither said nor implied any of those things. of course the ultra-orthodox are jews, and i am not embarrased by them. rather i am embarrassed as a human by people who are ostensibly all about tolerance and live and let live, but don't want to extend the courtesy to some harmless weirdos. and they really are harmless. i don't think of them as being weird anymore, having lived, worked and studied among them for many years, but i understand that most "enlightened" people would, which is why i said "admittedly weird" in my previous post. see jo anns' post above for more perspective on perspective and judgementalism.

about the buses, no, the government doesn't condone sexism. it allows this community to have a few bus lines of its own which service exclusively ultra-orthodox neighborhoods and on which men and women sit separately by mutual agreement. in america, where these lines are privately owned, the separation is left/right. in israel, where "the back of the bus" doesn't have the connontations it does in america, the separation is front/back. the practice is currently being challenged in the israeli courts because of the ugly incident in question. (so you got that? NO separate buses.) yes, i know its silly but i wouldn't even agree that it constitutes sexism, let alone freudian sexual repression which is what hitchens was trying to blame on the jews by lumping them in with the "monitheistic religions". this is the idea i was trying to refute.

anyway, where would we be without catholic sexual repression? there'd be no patti smith (one of my idols) and, um, no madonna either... wait, never mind. "do you know how they go-oo..."-

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btw, you may have heard a lot about the great secular/religious divide in israel, and there certainly is one, and it's huge. but on a practical level, on the regular public busses, everyone knows that an ultra-orthodox man or woman will prefer to stand rather than sit next to a member of the opposite sex, religious or secular. it is a common (and i think heartwarming) sight to see a secular person move to another seat (if there is one) in deference to a religious practice that they may, in other contexts, disagree with strongly.

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Who gets to decide what the 'real deal' is when it comes to religion?

why, i do, norm. didn't you know that? :)

but don't want to extend the courtesy to some harmless weirdos. and they really are harmless.

The ideas they represent are not harmless showing them respect I think is a way of showing respect for their ideas.

Is this the same group that believes the West Bank is rightly part of Israel?

Trying to abstract Judaism from Hitchens' monotheistic big three targets is futile, jonathan. in ancient times and modern, the extreme paucity of Jews has never stopped them from committing just as worse religious atrocities that their religious heritage has taught Christians and Muslims to commit. The insurgency in Iraq and the general War on Terror is really just the latest incarnation of the Maccabean Revolt. Semitic Orthodoxy v. Hellenism/Westernism. We may be guilty of cultural imperialism, but we'd also be guilty of cultural imperialism in our attempts to cease Aztec human sacrifices. Forgive Hitchens, and me, if we don't take these blood-crazed desert cults very seriously when it comes to the truth, and we choose to forego respect for them.

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Is this the same group that believes the West Bank is rightly part of Israel?

the question is complicated by a lack of clarity in the terminology. it depends on what you mean by "rightly" and what you mean by "israel", both of which, i'm sure you'll admit, have multiple meanings.

if by "israel" you mean the state of israel, than no. this is the group an offshoot of which doesn't believe in the right of the state to exist, as it was founded by heretics and unbelievers, and is completely secular in nature (except for a few symbolic things to show its a "jewish" state). along the same lines, if by "rightly" you mean legal rights, than again, no, for the same reasons.

they do believe, along with all religious jews, that the "land of israel" was given by god to the jewish people. the actual geographic borders of this "land" are in some dispute because of biblical inconsistancies but certainly include portions of what are today syria and jordan, and do not include most of the negev desert or eilat, which ARE within the boundaries of the modern state of israel. the gaza strip is another area in theological dispute.

in any case, these people have as little truck with the modern state as possible, taking what it gives, using its services when necessary, but mostly distancing themselves from any concept of being "israeli", preferring to see themselves as simple jews who, through a fortunate accident of history (or not so fortunate, according to the aforementioned offshoot)are able to merit living in the promised land.

i'm curious, though, seeing as you know little or nothing of the "ideas" these people "represent" (and i don't mean to be insulting. why would/should you?) what is it you find so dangerous about them? i understand you find the very concept of religion, and even the concept of a creator to be dangerous. is this what you mean?

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btw you may notice i try to choose my words very carefully. i chose the word "courtesy" instead of "respect" for a reason. i wouldn't ask (or legislate, according to the categorical imperitive) anyone to have respect for anyone. humans are icky. but i would ask everyone to show courtesy to everyone. i have no respect for britney spears whatsoever. but if she knocked on my door looking for a glass of water, i would give it to her and send her on her way without insulting her. that's courtesy. and in some ways i have similar feelings for britney spears that i do for the ultra-orthadox. i feel kind of sorry for her and, though her schtick does violence to everything i hold holy about music and entertainment, no one is forced to listen to her.

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The insurgency in Iraq and the general War on Terror is really just the latest incarnation of the Maccabean Revolt. Semitic Orthodoxy v. Hellenism/Westernism

ok, you may assume i'm familiar with all the historical references. what the fuck are you talking about?

is this what you mean?

It is.

Further I think the courtesy-respect line is a fine one, and one you'll need pointy ears and a sure step to avoid crossing.

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we were talking about the jews being the cause of sexual repression, and now you're blaming them for the history of violence? one thing at a time, dude.

ther'es a girl named sarah here you might be interested in, btw. she's got a thing for professors. :)

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It is.

well then, for the record, i have to say it's fair enough to blame the jews for the stuff that really gets your goat-christianity and islam- as they are both offshoots of judaism. they both tried to get us to join them, they both failed, and they both became anti-semitic as a result. for what its worth. we certainly didn't create them.

jonathan,

I've just added a link to Saturday's offerings by Gwynne Dyer a writer whose views I've come to respect. I'd appreciate your comments.

a girl named sarah

Oh my. If I were the woman named Sarah I'd probably take offense at being referred to as a 'girl'

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dionysus, i'm not trying to extract the jews in a general sense. i'm aware of the similarities. i also know what the other religions took from the jews, what they misconstrued, and what they simply made up. it was one of these points that hitchens was trying to use for his argument, unintentionally bashing the jews in the process. but i see my attempts to clarify have brought out the intentional bashers, getting more and more general as i pick away at the specifics. i agree with one thing you said- its futile. but i'm bored, and have no life.

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i say "girl" because she seems to be a college student. she also writes like a girl and any woman worth her salt would know what i'm talking about. that would make her a girl to me, a middle aged man. sorry for any offence.

Knowing how much you like to be PC young woman I believe is the term you're looking for. Then again I may be full of shit, JoAnn, Sarah ?

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i think you might be right about the "young woman" thing, at least as far as being pc goes. do i really come off as a pc kind of person? i'm not sure how to take that. i stand corrected.

hmmm... the use of "girl".. it depends on who's using it and in what context..

I refer to women my age as my "girlfriends".

If some man I don't know very well refers to me as a "girl", I might take that as a put down, depending upon the context of how it was used.

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hi jo anne. i wasn't going to write further on this, but you might appreciate this extreme coincidence: i'm in the middle of reading a terrific book right now, called "ex libris" by anne fadiman. in a chapter called " the his'er problem", this was the last paragraph i read before moving to the computer to fight the good fight,just an hour or so ago:

for as long as anyone can remember, my father has called every woman who is more than ten years his junior a girl. since he is now 91, that covers a lot of women. he would never call a man over the age of 18 a boy. i have tried to persuade him to mend his ways, but the word is ingrained, and he means it gallantly.he truly believes that inside every stout, white haired woman of 80 there is a glimmer of that fresh and lissome thing, a girl.

i think you'd like the book. i'm enjoying it so much i'm trying to read it slowly. its about the joys of loving books.

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well, in all this foofaraw i didn't notice that you had posted the fourth part of the debate. and i have to say, to be fair, hitchens was excellent, sharpton was the goofy one, and mathews was an asshole. of course, all of part four was only one question, really. but i have to give credit where its due. when hitchens gets serious, he can be devastating. which is not to say i dont' appreciate his humor.

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and i notice he removed the sunglasses. i wonder if this had an effect on him? i betcha.

i also know what the other religions took from the jews, what they misconstrued, and what they simply made up. it was one of these points that hitchens was trying to use for his argument, unintentionally bashing the jews in the process.

In his book he bashes Judaism (not to be confused with people with Jewish lineage, among whom he counts himself) with full intent, directly. It is the source of the scourge that misconstrues a lot of Egyptian and Babylonian mythology and simply makes up other stuff. In the evolution of cults, Judaism was more adaptable as a monotheism than the Ancient Near Eastern polytheisms. The death of the iron age saw religious snake oil salesmen working harder to explain the world, made self-conscious by the barbs of the heretical critics.

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It is the source of the scourge that misconstrues a lot of Egyptian and Babylonian mythology and simply makes up other stuff.

man, i may disagree with what you say (and in this case i surely do) but you can write like a motherfucker. i tremble in admiration.

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Roberto:[i]It's hard to make complex arguments in such a soundbite shoutfest format as the Hairball show. Although he does have some well-prepared zingers, Hitchens is best when allowed to fully develop his points in an extended format.[/i]

He hardly tried.

The first could simply be answered by the idea that evolution values cooperatist societies and therefore individuals(, and that this morality is no more than a societal rule enforcing cooperatist behaviour on every individual). The second could be answered by saying that although they do some good things (which they do!), it is vastly outnumbered by conservative AIDS education policies, freedom restricting policies (gay acceptance), and repression within churches.

Actually, Hitchens makes a compelling argument in regards to WMDs.

Did anyone see the Girl in Pink w/ the Big Tits!? That was worth sitting thru a Non-Fireworks Event. Just to see those HUGE Cans... Amazing. Thank God I have it on tape. -Viking

Hitch was great, as always a real religion killer. Even though I may disagree with his politics, I do strongly agree with his Antitheisim. Sharpen is a hack. Nothing more then a zealot believer, as they all are. Religion needs to be put in the guilletine. People who profess that they believe in the invisible survillence camera in the sky should not be aloud to drive or operate heavy manchinery. Nor should they be able to carry a firearm. Delusional nonsense and paranoia should only gain you a padded cell and sadation, not tax exemptions and government favortism.

Educating Rita vs. Homey the Clown

No contest! It is an absolute treat to watch Hitchens debate. His wit and intelligence are further highlighted by Sharpton's inept babbling. While watching the show, I couldn't help comparing Hitchens to Dr. Frank Bryant of Educating Rita. It is apparent that a drunk Hitchens (as some allege) is more than a match for the pitiful Sharpton.

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