Letters to a Young Contrarian

By Christopher Hitchens | Go to book overview

XVII

You ask if I am serious about being boring: let me see if I can resist the temptation to attempt a witty reply. In modern mass society at any rate, the dissenting type is unlikely to be faced with the gibbet or the prison cell, or even with the threat of unemployment or starvation. These things do of course still happen, and they happen a lot in the countries that produce the raw materials for our prosperity, but most of the time the enemy wears a banal face. (This is why many minority causes lay so much emphasis on style, and on the getting of attention by theatrical tactics, most of them subject to a rapid process of diminishing returns.)

A possible solution is to accept the banal and simply keep droning on. I'll give you an example from my own life. In 1992, Governor Clinton of Arkansas ordered the execution of a mentally retarded death row inmate; a black man named Rickey Ray Rector who had lobotomised himself in an attempt to commit suicide. I'll spare you all the details—Rector used to save his dessert at mealtimes and had saved the pecan pie "for later" when the executioners came to take him away from what he'd been told was his last meal. He didn't even understand

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Letters to a Young Contrarian
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction xi
  • I 1
  • II 13
  • III 19
  • IV 27
  • V 35
  • VI 41
  • VII 47
  • VIII 53
  • IX 55
  • X 61
  • IX 69
  • XII 79
  • XIII 85
  • XIV 95
  • XV 105
  • XVI 115
  • XVII 123
  • XVIII 127
  • Envoi 139
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