Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Out Of Everyone's Misery

Just a quick thought about something that's started to piss me right off recently.

None of the things I'll mention are particularly recent, but considering them together only started when I was watching some awesome Hitchslaps (short clips of Christopher Hitchens laying the smackdown on someone for following a concept that's either immoral or bloody stupid); while most of the time his attitude isn't something I'd emulate toward people's personal faiths since it's all dependent on that person, institutionalised religion is every bit as foul to me as it is to him.

Anyway. One of these clips that really got to me was Hitch being interviewed on Fox following the death of Jerry Falwell, who is quite possibly the poster child for 'utter fucking dick' in America for the 1970s (although there were so many at the time, this is debatable); Hitch is told he's not a nice person, essentially, for being happy that Falwell died. Now I know some of the things Falwell did, although for the sake of my sanity I won't read too much of it. This son of a bitch was a fervent theocrat, and put even more effort into dodging the US Constitution's First Amendment - for readers outside the US, that's that pesky part about religion not being allowed to run America* - than I put into avoiding reality TV. And that's saying something. He was a raging anti-Semite and anti-feminist, declaring that Jews are "spiritually blind and desperately in need of their Messiah and Savior" and that women "need a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home", as well as blaming 9/11 on everyone in America who didn't think evangelists should be in charge. He was a piece of shit and I'm glad he's fucking dead. So is Hitchens, and openly said so, and suddenly he's accused of speaking ill of the dead.

And here's my main point. What is this shit? Speaking ill of the dead? What, are they more sensitive to criticism now that they're fucking dead? Hitch's reaction to Falwell finally dying is a perfect example of this - Falwell's family believe that anything not Christian is evil and must be purged from America, I doubt they fucking care about Christopher's approval, but no! Can't say bad things about people after they die! Apparently they can hear it, or it makes people around you uncomfortable or some silly shite. Grow the fuck up.

What would it take? What would someone need to do, for it to be acceptable to be happy they've died? I'm gonna Godwin this right out of the gate - Adolf Hitler was a piece of shit too, and I'm glad he's also dead. Hell, the only material differences I can find at a glance between Falwell and Hitler was their country of origin, their age, which particular denomination of Christianity they followed and the fact that Hitler got control of an army.

So given that Falwell basically spent his life preaching that the only way to go to heaven was to treat certain groups as subhuman - an attitude otherwise not seen in American politics since South Carolina cited the Bible's support of slavery in the document announcing their secession from the Union, and the start of the civil war - is it somehow not enough to warrant calling him a cockmongler after he's dead?

Fuck that. I'll speak ill of bastards, dead or alive. Someone has to.

*Stop laughing at the back there. I know, I know - despite what it looks like, religions are legally not allowed to run the United States. Stunned me too when I first heard about it, but it begs the question - if this is what it's like when organised Christians aren't allowed control over America, what would it be like if they were?


  1. I've struggled with this attitude towards the dead for a very long time because, here in the South, it's even more demanded that no ill is spoken of them - particularly in the first few days after their demise. It would be considered extremely impolite to tell the truth (as you just did) where anyone else could hear.

    This presents a challenge to me because I do not want to hurt anyone's feelings but I also do not want to go through life pretending that the deceased was some paragon of virtue when s/he was not.

    Most recently, I had to deal with this when my great uncle and great aunt died. I had written them off years ago because of their snobbery and hateful behavior so their deaths were not a loss for me and I did not grieve. The only statement I could bring myself to make publicly was that I regretted the loss of what could have been and I think it's the same for the people like Falwell. I regret the loss of what he could have been, the good he could have done in this world. That's a funeral that started way before the actual funeral, true, but it's the most polite I can manage, because I do not regret that their ability to harm others has ended.

  2. True, Falwell could've been a force for reason. But if he had been, he wouldn't have been influential. He rose to the heights he did *because* he was a dickweed, and *because* he kept railing about the unforgivable heresy of women thinking for themselves and the ACLU being allowed to exist.

    He might've been reasonable but he wouldn't have been much of a force, which only makes it worse, really. If he was only famous for being a bastard, there'll be people who only knew of him because he was the kind of bastard they like. So he'll be defended...but honestly, bigots' deaths are like MLK day - they're wonderful arsehole detectors. Find someone complaining about MLK day, or defending a bigoted fuck (alive or dead) and you've likely found an arsehole.

  3. Unfortunately, I fear that you are right. It seems that society thrives on hate and fear. As a group, we do it very well. It takes great individuals usually to rise above it and change the world.

    As for MLK, some people here get uptight about renaming a street for him. It becomes quickly apparent who the racists are no matter how much they scream, "I'm not a racist but..."

  4. "I'm not a racist but" is generally only used because people know they're about to say something *fucking racist as all get-out*. It's another arsehole detector, hearing that. XD