I was at the Stones' concert in Altamont when they killed that guy.

I wasn't. But I was at the Rumble in the Jungle this past week when Chris Hitchens intellectually eviscerated man of the left George Gallaway. Gallaway actually KOed Hitch, but when the two were munging around on the floor, Hitch took out a knife and performed hari kari on Gorgeous George.

Gallaway wielded more power, Hitchens more grace and nuance.

Gallaway used words as whips. Barbara Bush. Native Americans. Kecha, Kecha. Audience in his thrall. How easily, like pushing buttons, he makes people lose control.

I'm of the left but moderate. Radicals such as George Gallaway frighten me. How can I be sure his anti-Israelism isn't anti-Semitism? I can't.

Gallaway slipped out his trump card early: "Hitchens represents the first-ever metamorphosis from a butterfly back into a slug." The audience went wild. I did too, fair readers. Until afterward, when I realized that butterflies weren't once slugs, but caterpillars. But I and everyone else knew what he meant. Throughout the debate, Gallaway sacrificed precision and complexity for generality and simplicity. He played to the gut.

Would it surprise you to learn I clutched pepto bismol as I left the Baruch College Performing Arts Center?