Hitchens in Beirut

Christopher Hitchens at Beiteddine (Photo by Michael J. Totten)

Christopher Hitchens at Beiteddine (Photo by Michael J. Totten)

A story that I’ve ignored thus far in this space is Christopher Hitchens managing to get himself beat up in Beirut by confronting some thugs. Michael Totten, who was a participant in the encounter, has the definitive account.

Scott Payne is an admirer of Hitchens’ boldness:

I spend a lot of time on this site talking about how we need to respect one another and that we ought to develop an ability for cross-ideological communication, all of which I do sincerely believe and will continue to argue. But there are times… there are times that call for the confidence, gusto, and stupidity to get yourself into situations like the one described in this story. Perhaps not against armed militants in Beruit, but there are times when in your face denouncement is the only acceptable response to some sets of beliefs.

Andrew Exum, however, captures my thoughts on the matter succinctly: “There is a thin line between badass and dumbass.”

Totten, choosing to jump in to defend his friend at the risk of his own life, was decidedly on the good side of that line.  Hitchens, provoking a gang of thugs by an action that merely made him feel good but was likely to have no consequence in advancing liberty, was well on the wrong side.

Hitchens’ life is too valuable to put at risk in a childish stunt.  He has both the talent and the platforms to fight the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and their ilk by more effective means than scribbling dirty words on a poster.

FILED UNDER: General, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    There’s no necessary connection between good public judgment, judgment about what should be done in the abstract for example, and good private judgment, prudence in one’s personal conduct. Obviously, Hitchens has problems in the latter area. From what I’ve heard I wouldn’t be surprised if drink played a part we haven’t heard about in the scuffle.

    Speaking as a former martial arts instructor as well as somebody who’s been forced into the position of defending himself on the street a couple of times, avoiding trouble is the best self defense.

  2. Raoul says:

    Let’s not forget how the this pompous bloated ass interjected himself in the middle of the last impeachment for no good reason.

  3. Floyd says:

    “Hitchens’ life is too valuable to put at risk in a childish stunt”
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    Why more than any other bloviating alcoholic?

  4. tom p says:

    Speaking as… somebody who’s been forced into the position of defending himself on the street a couple of times, avoiding trouble is the best self defense

    Indeed, tho sometimes the best defense is a good offense. A couple of times I waited for the assholes to attack… but made it obvious that I was waiting for them. As soon as they realized that I was waiting for them, they began to think that this “crazy white boy” had something more than they were willing to deal with… most times I didn’t, but they didn’t know that.

    A word of warning: This attitude is not for the weak of heart. Cause every now and again, ya have to follow thru. Ya don’t have to win every time, ya just have to make them sorry they didn’t believe you and that it wasn’t worth it this time…

  5. Joe R. says:

    From what I’ve heard I wouldn’t be surprised if drink played a part we haven’t heard about in the scuffle.

    Only if Totten is lying.