Friday, June 03, 2005

Crusaders of Civilization (Or Neoconservative Civility)

An exchange between Christopher Hitchens and a female audience member at an English literary festival:

Female audience member: Excuse me. I'm not usually awkward at all but I'm sitting here and we're asked not to smoke. And I don't like being in a room where smoking is going on.

CH (smoking heavily): Well you don't have to stay darling, do you? I'm working here and I'm your guest, OK? And this is what I'm like; nobody has to like it.

I K [Ian Katz, moderator]: Would you just stub that one out?

CH No. I cleared it with the festival a long time ago. They let me do it.

FAM We should all be allowed to smoke then.

CH Fair enough. I wouldn't object. It might get pretty nasty though. I have a privileged position here, I'm not just one of the audience, so it would be horrible if everyone was like me. This is my last of five gigs, I've worked very hard for the festival. I'm going from here to Heathrow airport. If anyone doesn't like it they can kiss my ass.

IK Would anyone like to take up that challenge? (Laughter. Woman walks out)...

(From The Guardian Unlimited, "When Christopher Met Peter," Tuesday May 31, 2005).


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