April 13, 1949 – December 15, 2011
I first discovered Christopher Hitchens about 5 years ago when I was browsing YouTube. Someone had posted a copy of a lecture he’d given at the University of Toronto in which he was discussing the right of free speech and the various ways it is being inhibited. In that lecture he called Oliver Wendell Holmes "fatuous and overpraised", but also said in a nutshell that free expression is exceptionally important to a free society.
It was a lecture with which I found much agreement. I quickly became interested in other things he has done or said, finding other lectures and debates online in which he has participated. His views on religion and the supernatural were also agreeable to me. He had gained one more atheist supporter.
But it wasn’t his points of view that kept me interested in him, including reading his articles and essays. It was his way with words. Say what you will about Hitchens’ points of view, the way he expressed them had an elegance and style that could only be called unique. Sometimes his tone came across as caustic, likely intentionally, but the way his tone was expressed made his words seem like the caustic words were a finer grit of sandpaper that could glide easier across your skin without taking so much of it with each pass.
If one word could sum up Christopher Hitchens, that word would have to be brilliant. Brilliant until the end when his cancer overtook him.
He will definitely be missed.