Like, famazing!

So, like, I was at the mall with my bff Kristen, and she was like, "Oh em gee, that romper is, like, super cute!" and I was like, "Are you for serious?" and she was like, "I totally am," and I was like, "Well, okay, maybe I'll spend my dollarz on it," and she was like, "Like, yea!"

In other news, Christopher Hitchens wrote an article for Vanity Fair about the abuse of the word "like" by the yuts of today, which was sent to me by our fair Rejectionist (sidebar: send me tips! I will acknowledge you in a post!).

Hitchens makes some fair points (even if he's tardy for the party by about 15 years), and I'm with him until he writes:
[Y]ou have to talk well in order to write well, and you can’t write while using “like” as punctuation[.]
I give that a solid "eh." Written English and spoken English have differing conventions. I wouldn't write "like" instead if "said" (erm, expect for above), but I would use "like" in conversation to indicate "something along the lines of this was said, but this isn't a direct quote or anything."

Full disclosure: I am not a huge Hitchens fan, and so tend to look for things I dislike in his writing. I'll be happy to convert to fandom if he will just admit that there is irony in the fact that his breed of atheism requires his militant adherence to a belief system. Just a hint of self awareness, and I'm so on board.


  1. I dislike Hitchens fairly intensely; 'fifteen years late to the party' is extremely kind.

    But I was with _you_ until "... just admit that there is irony in the fact that his breed of atheism requires his militant adherence to a belief system."

    There's no irony there. Suggesting that a militant belief in gravity is equivalent to a militant belief in unicorns is nonsense. He might be wrong, but he's not (in this, at least) contradicting himself. The problem isn't with belief as such; it's with belief in, like, unprovable things.

  2. Aw, pish posh, bingol. Hitchens doesn't militantly believe in gravity--he militantly believes that there is no God, and those who do believe are ignorant and dangerous. Hurrah, New Atheism!

    A militant belief in atheism can be seen as equivalent to a militant belief in Christianity, or any religion, in that all have certain truths, such as the existence or non-existence of God, that are scientifically unproven but are "the truth" and "the way."

    Hitchens' belief system (that there is no God, never has been, never will be, and to believe anything else is dangerous) is dogmatic and militant. It doesn't mean he's wrong, it doesn't mean he's contradicting himself, but I think it is a little silly that his assertion that belief in a certain set of texts and standards are inherently wrong has led him to become a prophet of New Atheism (along with Dawkins and Harris), which is a pretty strict belief system.

    Hey, it's an opinion. Is it right? Not necessarily. But you got to find irony where you can...

  3. I'm not saying that the militancy isn't annoying, and the strident, superior tone. But as far as the truth claims go, I don't think you can draw an equivalence.

    I don't see how a militant belief in the non-existence of Poseidon (to pick on one god in particular) is equivalent to a militant belief in the existence of Poseidon.

    I am absolutely convinced that Poseidon is not actually lurking in the watery depths, polishing his trident. If you are convinced that He _does_ exist, the burden of proof is on you. You can't ask me to prove non-existence: my failure to do so supports my point. But I can ask you to prove existence, and your failure undermines yours.

    Now, I could be wrong, and if Poseidon rises off the coast of Morocco tomorrow, I'll change my beliefs in a heartbeat. But as of right now, mine is the more intelligible belief. Because a belief that a phenomenon doesn't exist, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, is more rational than a belief that it does. The former is more than a 'belief system.' It's grounded in (lack of) evidence.

    Some people are quite certain that an alien named Xenu brought billions of people to earth 75 million years ago, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them using hydrogen bombs.

    I am quite certain they are wrong.

    You're saying that my disbelief in Xenu--because it's a strongly-held, unprovable opinion--is the same as their belief in Xenu?

  4. I have never heard of Mr. Hitchens and strongly believe he does not exist.
    I have no use for any one who believes in Hitchens existence. Certainly anyone who believes you must talk well to write well has not read much first person fiction. I also suspect anyone with such a belief system must sound like he or she has a grammar textbook shoved up their ass.

    An intolerant ass is an intolerant ass no matter if they believe in God or don't.

  5. The thing about this that is funny is that Hitchens is an inveterate "uh" and "er" talker whose written prose is about ten million times clearer than his spoken prose.

  6. bingol: I think our disconnect is that you're framing this as a lack of belief (one does not believe in the power of Poseidon), and I'm framing this as a belief system that one adheres to (there is no sort of higher power; spirituality is a sham). I'm not taking issue with the belief, or with the system of belief that follows, but with the lack of self awareness that accompanies skewering these belief systems by creating a belief system.

    Google around for the Humanist Society, or New Atheism, and you'll see that there are communities of believers, with set beliefs about the world and our place in it, who venerate the holy science. My irritation with Hitchens isn't about any belief he holds in particular, and clearly I don't have any real answers (or would I be anonymously blogging? No, I would be Deepak Chopra).

    Also, I would steer clear of the ocean, if I were you. We all remember how Poseidon effed up Odysseus...

  7. This post was fun from beginning to end, comments included.

    Hitchens is, like, militant in his beliefs or is it, like, his disbeliefs.

  8. Oh! Yeah. Sorry. False equivalence is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, and I felt that your statement was just like Stalin.

    Er, anyway--good point about the ocean. Plus, it's completely soggy. Who needs that?