Listen to Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens debating blasphemy at last year’s Guardian Hay Festival – blogs.guardian.co.uk: One of the most talked-about events at last year’s Guardian Hay Festival was the Blasphemy Debate, chaired by Joan Bakewell and inspired by the Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill, which had been announced in the Queen’s Speech the previous month.

The speakers at the debate were the actor and writer Stephen Fry and the journalist Christopher Hitchens, and their frequently heated discussion covered issues of freedom of speech, religious tolerance, multiculturalism and orthodoxy. It was a fascinating, thought-provoking and – as you’d expect from two such consummate orators – extremely entertaining event, and as a warm-up to this year’s Hay Festival, the good people at Radio Hay, the festival’s online broadcaster, have kindly allowed us to offer you the chance to hear it for yourself. Click here to listen to the debate on your computer (MP3; 78mins).

Warning! coarse language.

click ► to listen:




  1. j says:

    I agree with Mister Uncle Ben 100%

  2. Thomas says:

    Melchett! Still believing in God?

    It’s a pleasure to listen to both Fry and Hitchens.

  3. getor says:

    Brilliant! Intelligence and fun at high level. Thanks to John D. for posting this intellectual piece and these times of trivia.

  4. MikeN says:

    Just weeks after a debate in England titled
    This House believes the state of Israel has a right to exist.

    Sad to say I think several of the posters on this blog would vote for the negative.

  5. Improbus says:

    Israel has the right to exist and the Arabs have a right to exterminate them. Good luck to both.

  6. bobbo says:

    Well, Improbus–clever, but revealing that “rights” are not at issue.

    No, existence comes down to that Darwinian struggle of having what it takes to exist, and nothing more.

    BUT–yes, interesting listen but loses some without the video to show facial expressions and such. Going to transcribe and learn that Hindi joke about 10 min from the end. AND the first joke ever told:

    “Adam said, stand back, I don’t know how big this is going to get.”

    Encyclopedic raconteur that Mr Hitchens.

  7. tcforrest says:

    Thanks for this,

    Fry and Hitchens are a treat.

    Sad that few of the usual suspects on this blog took the time to listen and debate…

  8. wilsparky says:

    Well since blasphemy is the topic, I wish these two were more concise and less wordy. Some people are enamoured of this posh, English linguistic, juggling style but not me. It’s too self congratulatory. When I listen to Noam Chomsky, I’m enlightened. He forgoes flourishes and showing off. He gets to the point and eschews poetic vanity and displays of his knowledge of Roget’s thesaurus.
    My point is made perfectly for me by Hitchens himself when he says how wonderful the King James’s vesion of the Bible is: his love of style over content is nailed right there. I rest my case.


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