Hello dear reader(s)!
The purpose of this post is to challenge the widely held belief that you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead. It is a great cultural taboo. It is so ingrained, that the death of a well-known figure can almost instantly erase any flaws that they once had with the general public. As a result, history gets erased, or its value diminished. It is wrong. Here is one name to prove why speaking ill of the dead is not always a bad thing.
Adolf Hitler likely suffered with mental illness. Adolf Hitler committed suicide. Should Adolf Hitler be a sympathetic figure because he is dead? No, the man presided over many many deaths and many, many more lives ruined. His death doesn’t change what he did. Just as the deaths of your loved ones shouldn’t change how you view them, their great qualities, and even their flaws. Yet this taboo of not being able to speak ill of the dead does just that. It makes us try to paint people who did real harm to the world as a sympathetic figure. It makes the horrible effects they have had on other people get essentially erased from the history of their lives. And it is wrong. Any sane and rational person can weigh the horrible things Hitler has done against any successes he had, why can’t we do the same with other figures?
In addition to erasing the terrible things were responsible for from history, the concept of speaking ill of the dead has another effect. It prevents people from being able to express real relief at the knowledge that the person who has just passed can no longer harm anyone. It has the power to turn a very flawed figure into a myth for the advancement of a flawed agenda. I will now give some examples, where I will very much be speaking ill of the dead. Try and turn off your visceral response of disgust as I do so and open your mind to the possibility that these people being dead does not make them saints.
Let’s start with the first person’s own words.
“There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less — a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them. I’m just not impressed by the fact that the University of Texas may have fewer. Maybe it ought to have fewer. And maybe some — you know, when you take more, the number of blacks, really competent blacks, admitted to lesser schools, turns out to be less.” – Justice Scalia
Written in his dissent against the ruling that made anti-sodomy laws illegal, Lawrence v Texas, Justice Scalia said, “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.”
Yet when this obese, 79 year old bigot died and I was relieved that he no longer had the chance to decide on laws that would hurt people he didn’t like, I was the one who was called into question. I was attacked because I was happy that the man who would not have retired, died of natural causes at an age over the average lifespan in the US because I refused to concede that he was not a terrible person in life, and had an effect on hurting millions of lives in this nation.
Let’s move on, shall we?
“Just Say No.” – Nancy Reagan
Now, I did not celebrate Nancy Reagan’s death the way I did with Scalia. Mainly because at age 94, it didn’t really do anything for the country. But I sure as hell don’t mourn her death either.
But Josh, what’s wrong with “Just Say No”?
So glad I asked myself.
Beyond steering the conversation about drug abuse and addiction away from a public health issue and into a criminal, “Just Say No” is the ultimate in victim blaming. That neighborhood you live in torn apart by a drug war my husband is waging in your streets? Maybe if the people in your neighborhood had just said no, this wouldn’t be happening. People getting hooked on substances and not being able to stop? They should have just said no. Illegal drugs landing you a felony conviction and mandatory minimums pushed by my husband when the rapist down the road does less time than you? You could have just said no. And one of the largest, we can gut the mental health system in this country more than any other administration because people can just say no. We’ve taken away all economic opportunity in your neighborhood and made it virtually impossible to live any other way than the drug trade? Just say no. As a result of you choosing the drug trade, we have militarized the police to target your neighborhoods near exclusively despite the overwhelming evidence that you were being supplied those drugs to sell from somewhere else and sold them to people across all areas, races, and economic backgrounds? Guess you should have just said no. A felony conviction in your state takes away your voting rights and the disproportionate targeting of the drug war results in more minorities being imprisoned and then disenfranchised upon release that only helps take opposition votes out of elections? Could have Just Said No. We can push and push and push our legal, terribly dangerous drugs over safer illegal drugs because those terrible legal drugs are something you could just say no to, therefore they aren’t that dangerous at all. We can literally destabilize sovereign nations by sending in our military and militarized DEA, resulting in government corruption, once peaceful places being turned into war zones, and a flood of people trying to escape those conditions and becoming the immigrants our party so despises? They should have just said no. You wife drank herself to death and hid that from you until any chance to intervene was too late because of the shame and fear she felt because she wasn’t able to just say no?
Fuck you Nancy Reagan.
And don’t even get me started on the myth of her husband. That’s another twelve posts.