I disagreed vehemently with Christopher Hitchens on a wide variety of political topics, while simultaneously cheering him on in his intellectual evisceration of religious fanaticism and his utter lack of fear in attacking even sacred cows like Mother Theresa.
But the one thing that garnered my respect for him more than anything was when Hitchens wanted to prove to himself whether waterboarding was torture.
He had himself waterboarded. Sixteen seconds later, he announced that yes, it is in fact torture.
He was a man who approached the world on its own terms, unafraid to criticize where criticism was deserved, regardless of any cultural taboos...and he was willing to change his mind whenever new evidence justified an adjustment.
He will be remembered, and he will be missed.
“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.” - Francis Bacon
"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers