Friday, October 23, 2009

Hitchens Brings the Laughs Down Under

Those Aussies are really eating it up. I've seen Christopher Hitchens make a version of this argument several times, but never have I seen it elicit quite so many laughs! And I can't help but laugh along with them.

Which brings me to an interesting point that recently flared up on a friend's discussion board. Is it okay to laugh at religious beliefs? Generally, I think laughter and derision are perfectly appropriate responses, especially for some of the more outlandish claims, but even I wonder sometimes: Where do you draw the line? When is a belief fodder for comedians and when is a belief too sacred to touch?

Of course, I don't think a belief is ever too sacred to be touched, but for the sake of cultural sensitivities, what are the guidelines? In the quest for truth, is it better to throw political correctness and social niceties out the window? Or must we be more strategic if we are to win the hearts and minds of others? I think science offers a good role model here. Strive for skepticism and impartiality and if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

There's another good rule of thumb: if you want to laugh, just laugh and let the rest sort itself out.


SuiginChou said...

One, I think you're playing this up a bit. They chuckled as much as an audience would. I don't think it's that the Australians were more receptive to Hitchens than any other particular Western audience, and I don't think they laughed robustly enough (if at all) to warrant the description "eating it up".

Two, I enjoyed it. Thanks. :)

Three, I saw this first on Facebook this morning and thought I should let you know, every time you've been crossposting things between your blog and Facebook recently (like, last two to three weeks or so), the video attachment never shows up for me on Facebook but always does on your blog. It may be me! But if I don't say something, then -- if it is in fact on your end -- you'd never know. So ... now you know. ^^; At least one person can't see your videos on your Facebook notes.

Four, God he looks awful. :( That's not meant to be an attack against the validity of his rhetoric. Just a personal observation about the man's own personal health. He's put on a lot of facial baggage, got quite the creasage going on with it, too, and his demeanor in general seems either slightly inebriated, slightly heatstruck, or perhaps a bit of both. Any thoughts as to the cause? or does has he always looked like this for the last couple of years?


Six, tell us what's up in Boston. A general status update would be much appreciated. ;D

Seven, I liked the Krauss quote. (Saw that one on Facebook, too.) No idea who Krauss is, though. ^^;

Jay said...

I did a general status update a few posts down! Also, compared to other audiences, the Australians laughed much more than I've previously seen.

I didn't notice Hitchens's appearance, but I know he is in a constant state of near-inebriation, so that might explain things. I know he recently gave up smoking, which usually leads to weight gain too.

Krauss is an astrophysicist (and particle physicist, I believe) really brilliant, really funny. I posted his talk a few days back. Check it out if you get a chance.

As for facebook, I have it automatically posting my blogs as notes. It's not something I really pay attention to -I do it more in hopes that it will lead people to my blog.