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15 May, 2007

Speaking Ill of the Dead

So I hear Falwell died.

Partly I hear about this because so many people I know spoke up about it specifically to dance on his grave in text, or piss on it, or otherwise celebrate the end of a life.

And partly I hear about this because so many people I know spoke up about it specifically to say, "Look, he was a godawful man when he was alive, but he has a widow and children who mourn him, I'm not going to celebrate his passing."

And I find myself more aligned with the second than the first, and remembering another difficult man and his passing West some several months ago. About whom I said, "I am glad that he is now unable to do any more harm. I am glad that he is no longer suffering from the horrible illness that killed him. I cannot rejoice at death; I can give thanks for these two things. Beyond that, I feel very complicated; at least my faith has mechanisms for dealing with difficult ancestors."

I feel less complicated about Falwell, largely because he was so much more of an abstraction than that other difficult man I never met, one of those forces of politics well out of my sphere, someone who disapproved most mightily of the people like me who lived off the edge of his map, an organiser of forces that stirred the social waters rather than a part of my community. But it's the same sort of feeling -- this sense that I can feel satisfied that he no longer has the power to do harm, that I can wish he gains some perspective in whatever afterlife, if any, he turns up in, and understands that he did do great harm, but I cannot in truth wish him ill. I would have fought him with every fibre of my being in almost anything he supported had I had the chance to armwrestle him when he lived; now that he is not among the living, I can only say, "There goes a man to the West, a gate that every human being must pass through alone."

Fred Phelps will be protesting his funeral, I also hear.

I wonder if I will be able to wish that monster well on his way West when the day comes that he ceases to plague the living.

1 comment:

belledame222 said...

What I settled on:

"May he go on to the Eternal Reward/Place that he has earned in the eyes of his Maker."

works for Phelps as well I expect.