Readers’ tributes to Hitchens

The response was greater than I expected: we have about 40 tributes to Hitch, and they’re great.  Rather than putting them all up at once, which I’m told could clog some people’s blog readers, I’ll do them five at a time over the next week or so.  Often the words that accompany the photos are very moving.  If you have a photo/drawing, send it to me ASAP—there’s still time.

The first is, appropriately, from Mason Crumpacker and her mother Anne. Mason, you’ll recall, was the girl whom Hitchens provided with a reading list at the atheist meetings in Houston, and here she’s holding one of the books Hitch recommended.  (The messages provided by the readers, as with this one, will be indented.)

Our tribute photo: Hitchling locked and loaded:

Reader Bala created some images in memory of Hitchens; here’s one:

From Kurt Lewis Helf, an ecologist:

From “yesmyliege”:

Attached is a photo of Atlas confronting the Church, which I took in Rockefeller Center, which I thought might be an appropriate symbolic essay on Hitchens’ important literary contributions for atheism. From Wikipedia on Atlas: “Atlas continues to be a commonly used icon in western culture, as a symbol of strength or stoic endurance…. Atlas is used as a metaphor for the people who produced the most in society, and therefore “hold up the world” in a metaphorical sense.”

And from Chuck O’Connor:

This is a photo that captures for me the legacy Hitch leaves me with. It is a snap-shot of my son at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum butterfly house. It embodies the honest sense of legacy Hitchens often spoke of in his relationship with his children and the best response of our natural world, learning about it. My son is the only connection I have to life after death and sharing with him the wonders of nature is the only worship I want to enjoy.


  1. Posted December 18, 2011 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Beautiful. May “Hitchling” go instanteneously viral, and may the Hitch-on-Death photo become a poster for all to see. Jerry, thank you.

  2. Michael Kingsford Gray
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    Mason Crumpacker manifesting the kindly but insistent death-wish of a “great thinker” (to progressively and appropriately render one’s-self familiar with the truly mature and “evolutionary sieved” literature of humanity simultaneously welled tears to my ancient eyes, brought true hope to my fibrillating ticker, and “tickled me to bits!”)

    I, like Christopher, can die very easy with the understanding that the generation that replaces me is crowded with the erudite clones of Mason. Be it in Montreal or Mombassa.
    Beijing or Borneo.

    Post Scriptum:
    Mason, I expect that you shall find that some of the Greek myths are far more engaging than Harry Potter, or Narnia.
    Some of them are truly tedious and rightfully boring. Don’t let your peers cower you into saying otherwise!
    Enjoy:- enjoy what you actually revel in.
    Ignore what other folk tell you that you “should” enjoy.

    • Michael Kingsford Gray
      Posted December 18, 2011 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      Oh, Mason:

      Ignore what other folk tell you that you “should” enjoy.

      That includes me, of course!

      • Posted December 18, 2011 at 7:18 am | Permalink

        Well done, good sir! You set the example of how to be honest with yourself (insight) and with the world. We cannot be perfect. We can only strive for perfection through the courage to correct ourselves and our statements.

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      We began with Aphrodite the “Disney princess” of greek goddesses. It was pure smut. Mason was squirming around in a blushing ball under the cover on the bed. At one point she peeked out and squealed, “Does Mr. Hitchen’s know what is IN the book?” I replied, “Yes, sweetie. I’m sure he does.” 🙂

      When I finished reading we had a delightful mother/ daughter talk about sex and sexual responsibility. I’m sure beginning the Robert Graves will be one of my favorite memories from her childhood. We highly recommend it!

  3. Posted December 18, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    @Chuck O’Connor
    That is one precious hitchling! 🙂

    • Posted December 20, 2011 at 9:15 am | Permalink


      I hope I raise him with the same care you have loved Mason.

      Peace to you.

  4. Posted December 18, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Although I appreciate the sentiment, I’m fairly certain that the quote in the second image wasn’t said by Hitchens, but by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted December 18, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Yes, I looked up the quote and I think you’re right. I’ve replaced it with another photo produced by Bala whose quote does indeed seem to come from Hitchens. Good catch!

      • Hempenstein
        Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        And the replacement sounds much more like Hitch, too!

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Thanks Adam. Since the image is replaced, not sure which quote you meant. I did three posters. First one had the quote “Death is certain. It replaces….” It is from the Portable Atheist. I admit I haven’t read the book but read the quote reproduced in an article by the ABC.

      Second one is “Take the risk of thinking for yourself”

      This quote is from a BBC interview with Paxman

      • Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        sorry I mixed up there. “Take the risk of thinking for yourself” is from a debate with Tony Blair. “I refuse to be told…” is from an interview with BBC.

      • Posted December 18, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        The “death is certain” quote is the one I meant. It was written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but it appeared in the essay she contributed to The Portable Atheist, a book edited by Hitchens, which may be the source of confusion.

  5. Occam
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    In an ultimate tribute to Christopher Hitchens, Václav Havel has died.
    In an ultimate tribute to Christopher Hitchens, George Eaton of the New Statesman has—briefly—given Havel’s birth year as 1949, same as Hitchens.
    Václav Havel was 75.

    In an ultimate tribute to Christopher Hitchens, Atlantic winter storm ‘Joachim’ has swept across Western and Central Europe, beaching a cargo ship, derailing trains, uprooting trees, blocking roads and railways, spilling fuel on a nudist beach. Even the copper sheet roof of the venerable Hochkoenigsburg, favoured castle of Kaiser Wilhelm II, was blown away.

    The sharp caustic wit of Hitchens is already missing. So is his sense of proportion. As if the whole world had been waiting for his death to indulge in a collective outpouring of saccharine sentiment, secure in the knowledge that it would not have to suffer another of his devastating rejoinders.

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      Similarly, at the Houston conference, I was able to briefly connect what I hoped were entertaining dots for Hitch, himself, regarding the August 23 east coast earthquake:

      It originated halfway between Richmond (capitol of Virginia) and Washington, D.C. (current capitol of the United States), extending to New York City (first capitol of the US under the Constitution) by passing through Philadelphia (which Hitch, himself, added — the capitol under the Articles of Confederation) and on even to Danbury Connecticutt (which Hitch might also have added). Along the way, it damaged the National Cathedral (he was much more knowledgeable of the details than I), thereby proving its cause and intent.

      The cause was Thomas Jefferson, reacting to the accelerated destruction of the wall of separation between church and state by turning over in his grave. Said grave is in Monticello, very near the quake’s ground zero, roughly halfway between Richmond and D.C. And, as we all know, Thomas Jefferson wrote the The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and the Letter to the Danbury Baptists. He also was the mentor of James Madison, inspiring Madison to compose on paper The Bill of Rights.

      Were I to believe in superstition, I would most certainly believe that earthquake was nothing less than Mr. Jefferson turning over in his grave.

      • Posted December 18, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        And, when I mentioned this to another conference attendee, he connected other fun dots: The more Rick Perry prayed, the worse Texas drought problems became, and then the fires resulting from that severity! Until we atheists converged on Houston, there simply was no rain. And, when we did, the clouds let loose in grand style.

        • Posted December 18, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

          So, whose side is skydaddy on, anyway? LOL!!!

      • Hempenstein
        Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        Apologies for being slightly picky, but your geography’s a tad off. Charlottesville is WNW of Richmond while DC is ENE. The quake was centered roughly between Richmond and Charlottesville. But that only enhances the notion of Jefferson spinning in his grave.

        Tangentially related, Jerry and Jefferson are both alumni of the same institution, and it’s not UVA.

        • Posted December 18, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

          Darn! And, thank you, @Hempenstein. You’d think I’d know this stuff! No matter. I stand corrected and appreciative.

  6. Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    I believe that another fitting tribute is to reread and repost Hitchens’ writings. A favorite is Hitchens filleting Ann Coulter, found here and reposted on my blog. I would encourage anyone who has a blog to go forth and do likewise.

  7. ManOutOfTime
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Love love love the picture of Mason! The exchange she had with Hitch was a such a wonderful, poignant moment to remember him by – and such an excellent demonstration of the real heart of freethinkers and the free thought movement. The other entries a lovely, too, of course.

  8. Posted December 18, 2011 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Beautiful and moving tributes. Mason’s is especially adorable, sweet, poignant, and inspiring.

  9. Posted December 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    These are lovely, what a great idea.

  10. c stuart hardwick
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    For anyone who doesn’t know the story of Mason and Hitch, I blogged about it at
    and posted my video of the event here

    I am deeply grateful to have had the chance to see him speak, and that the science and reason that he valued so much will see his contributions live on.

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  1. […]  The blog Why Evolution is True has a whole series of posts full of reader tributes to Hitch: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.  Clearly this is a man who touched a lot of lives for the […]

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