Friday Ephemera
An Imaginary Compromise

A Question of Spine

Those of you who missed last night’s Question Time may enjoy this brief extract, courtesy of DSTPFW. On the subject of Salman Rushdie’s knighthood, Christopher Hitchens challenges Shirley Williams’ prostration in the face of intimidation and thuggery. (An act the Baroness subsequently – and dishonestly - denies.) One of Hitchens’ more charming qualities is his willingness to take on an audience that applauds Williams’ blathering and to tell that audience it should be ashamed for doing so.

Someone give Hitch his own show. Related: this and this.



Lady Williams wasn't unreasonable. Hitchens' response was over the top, a bit inspired some "liquid courage," perhaps? Hitchens' point is not unreasonable either, but his delivery was, which made him, in my view, appear to be a drama queen rather than a man with a different perspective. Their views aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Attaching Lady Williams, and then the audience, was just rude. Entertainment? Hitchens' own show? I think we have enough incivility in national debates, thank you very much.


I don't know if Christopher Hitchens had been on the booze again. You're being a bit snide Ted. Shirley Williams' perverse identifying with the aggressor is sufficient to explain the explosive response, especially as Salman Rushdie was a friend of his.

I don't know if'unreasonable' is the right word to describe Shirley Williams' attitusde. Rushdie is a civilized man whose life has been almost destroyed by evil bullies. They did murder his Japanese translator. Willams has blamed the vicctim for provoking his own plight.

Perhaps she has really fallen for the aggressors' line that they are 'offended'.But what could be more offensive than claiming the moral high ground while threatening murder and mayhem? These people really have no values at all.

Her behaviour may be 'reasonable' if she does not want to be murdered herself but it also shows moral blindness or moral cowardice.I think you have your priorities wrong if you're offended that Hitchens' response was 'rude.' It is not appropriate to be polite to someone who supports power and cruelty.

I felt really disillusioned with Shirley Williams.I'd felt a little uneasy about her continuing fondness for Roman Catholicism after all the revelations. But I did think she was better than this.In a programme about her early life she spoke with pride of her 'noble' mother who took an unpopular but principled stance against the saturation bombing of Germany.

The implication was that she had imbibed the importance of courage and compassion. It does not look like it here.

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