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Respect The Dead

When a polarizing figure dies, there is sometimes an impulse to ignore courtesy and to instead viciously attack. The glowing tributes can create a visceral push-back instinct. But upon the day of a man’s passing, respect for the pain of his loved ones, and yes, even his ideological fellows and followers, is a proper thing. There is no shame in allowing a day for the mourning of others.

Now, that does not mean it is not appropriate to criticize. It’s not even to say that on the very day you cannot reconfirm your distaste for the deceased. No, when a polarizing figure dies, even in the short hours following the news, it is to be expected and tolerated that those who oppose him will say so. Again, it’s a pushback against what may be historically inaccurate, hagiographic, rhetorical excess on the part of his dedicated fan base, as well as against any attempt to score political points with a perceived martyr. That’s understandable.

But what is not right, and certainly not classy, are the vicious and nasty personal comments celebrating the loss that others are feeling. Let me give you some examples:

That’s just awful. Especially a health jab at someone who died of brain cancer. Or this one:

Yes, the viciousness that greeted the announcement of the death of journalist Robert Novak was disgusting and cruel. Oh sorry, did you think I was talking about someone else? Well I wasn’t.

Robert Novak was a conservative and a journalist. He never sent anyone to war (in fact, he opposed the Iraq war), robbed a bank, or committed manslaughter at a lake; yet apparently the crime of being a conservative is justification enough for celebrating his death. Here are a few more choice Twitter screenshots:

They range from mundane nastiness:


To the predictable (and ubiquitous that day) final destination cracks:


From ‘just deserts’:


To just plain nasty …:


… nasty …:


nasty:


And all the way to #cleverfail:


Believe me, there are plenty more where those came from.

Of course, I will also give credit where credit is due:


Unfortunately, he was undermined by his own blog.

Certainly, the world does not revolve around Twitter … yet. But the increasing hand-wringing about criticism directed at Kennedy often cites Twitter commentary, so let’s just call this a reminder. And just for a further reminder, Redstate, Hot Air, and Michelle Malkin blogged about Kennedy’s death as well. Note all the triumphal crowing about hell and such? Me either.

Now, let’s be real here. Yes, there was some nastiness from the right regarding Ted Kennedy on the day he died. Just as there was some even-handed and respectful commentary from the left, including from Markos Moulitsas himself, regarding Robert Novak on the day of his passing. But that’s just the point, isn’t it? The din of outraged objection from the left over negative Kennedy commentary rings all too hollow in the face of the arguably more sinister, arguably less justified nastiness from the left only a few weeks ago when another man of the same age died of the same disease from our side of the aisle.

For my part, I tried to keep mostly quiet on the day of Kennedy’s passing. Not for him. For them. But like I said, he was a polarizing figure. Criticism, even on the day of his death, is to be expected and tolerated.

As for the increasingly morally indignant objectors on the left, do let’s try and remember two weeks ago. Hmm?

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