Thursday, March 1, 2012

Exactly WHY is it considered bad to speak ill of the dead?

I mean, I get why it's considered bad to WISH someone dead, or to be actively GLAD they're dead, but if a cockneck dies, they were still a cockneck; the only change is they're now a dead cockneck, and shall engage in no new cockneckery. That seems like it could be considered a good thing.

Directly wishing ill on someone is a karmic boomerang - my sister-in-law somehow exchanged her soul for a small rubber ball some years ago, 'cause truly anything you wish on her bounces right back. And for all their holier-than-thou protestations, there were a lot of Christians nodding their heads knowingly over Christopher Hitchens.

When Nixon died, everybody went from calling him a thief, a liar and a shorts-wearing metal-detector holder and started remembering all the GOOD things he did. If these same things had been brought up a week before, the people who did would have been called "apologists" and voted off the island. Instead, the one guy who did a negative cartoon (a gravestone reading "Here lies Richard Nixon") was treated like he'd taken a dump in the flowers.

Yeah, you don't walk up to the wife or husband and say "He was an invenerate bastard, caused abject grief for millions, and I will be dancing on his grave as soon as the grass grows in".  I get that.  You either go with the means-absolutely-nothing "I'm sorry for your loss", or you just shake their hand and nod mutely.  I'd like to stress the part about mutely.  As the saying goes, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything, or hire someone to write something nice for you to say.

I'm hearing a lot of "I didn't like what he wrote, but it's a shame he's dead" today. In some cases, I'd not be surprised if the not-spoken-aloud next sentence was "because I had so much fun writing things that ripped him apart."

But if you thought someone was a pillock on Monday, and they die on Tuesday, they don't suddenly become a saint on Wednesday. Maybe a day or two truce, OK, but don't try to spin your hatred. Getting on camera and saying "Well, he was certainly dedicated to his cause"... come on.

Time was you'd go to the funeral and bring a mirror, just to check. Is that so bad?

But I tell you, right now... Anthony Weiner is allowing himself a moment, just a moment, mind you, of smirking. Perhaps a quiet chuckle.


  1. Ah, the light treading we have to do when someone we hate dies, especially when they're in the public eye! Your post is spot-on, as always. I'm still laughing over the "small rubber ball" bit; perked up my whole day! :-)

  2. I absolutely don't know anyone. Within the space of the past 24 hours I had to look up Anthony Weiner and Andrew Breitbart (both who died). At least I knew who Davy Jones was.

    OK . . . personal testimony time here. My in-laws used to be ruled by a matriarch which everyone referred to as "Auntie". She had served as the stepmother to my mother-in-law (who had been an orphan. I bet you didn't know that).

    Auntie and I didn't quite get along. She had her ideas of what constituted good manners, and I had mine, and the twain never met.

    She's been dead lo these many years now. In regards to her I've since taught myself to let it go. Drop it. She can't hurt me any more and, besides, there're so many other people (most of them pontificating on radio) who're more deserving of my contempt.

    I know I'm probably cutting ethical corners here. But they're my corners and I'm the one holding the knife.

  3. Pip, pip old boy -- good manners and all that sort of rot..... the guy was a pain in the ass, dead or alive. I can't help remembering his arrogant efforts to create a new word for all of us to enjoy -- antitheist, someone who is happy to know there is no evidence for God. I'd love to know what he's finding out now. Loved it, Vinnie!

  4. Our longtime friend and fellow wordsmith Arthur D. Hlavaty couldn't get his comment posted (naughty Blogger!), so here's what he had to say:

    "I did not say good words about Nixon when he died. I continued to consider him all the bad things I had all along. And the day before his death, there was a headline, NIXON LIES IN COMA, and my dear cohusband, Kevin, said, 'Nothing stops him.'" Thanks for joining the conversation, Arthur; Vinnie and I are always glad to have you drop by here at ITRD!