Most social conventions are fine but some are destructive or at least misplaced. For instance, there is a popular belief and a social taboo against speaking ill of the dead. In general to do so is unnecessary as it can cause the family of the deceased some additional pain. Even if your Uncle Max was an unfriendly old cuss, no good will come from saying it at his funeral. Presumably, some people made allowances for his shortcomings and loved him in spite of them.
Sometimes it may not be necessary but it can be instructive to others regarding the legacy we leave in the world.
Sort of a visit from the ghost of Christmas future. If you are an intolerant racist just like the dead guy, you might also be demonized when you’re gone. The family of the intolerant racist must either share his hateful views or at least be aware of them. So saying so won’t come as a surprise to their family. In other cases, the deceased want to be thought of in death as they inspired people to feel in life.
As far as I know, Andrew Breitbart was not an intolerant racist. However, he was not a nice guy. He published a list of rapes and murders that he blamed on the Occupy movement. Breitbart’s list even included links to reports of the police saying specifically that the perpetrator and the crime itself had nothing to do with Occupy. He made the association based solely on the proximity to an encampment. In some cases, the exact opposite was true, the victims were participants in the protests.
There is a video of Breitbart screaming over and over at protesters to stop raping and murdering people. You’re dirty filthy animals. I don’t know if he believed what he was saying or was seeking publicity or trying to discredit the movement. No doubt the folks that bought into his hateful nonsense applauded his tirade. The rest of us simply shook our heads in disbelief.
In the case of Shirley Sherrod, Breitbart edited a video of a speech she gave, to appear to be an admission of racist treatment of a white couple. I can’t imagine why someone would target a blameless person and manufacture evidence to discredit them. The couple referenced in her speech came forward and defended her and the help she had provided them. Her assistance to them had been kind, understanding and anything but racist. By the time the dust had settled and the spiteful editing had come to light, she had lost her job. Ms Sherrod filed a civil case against him which the court has ruled over the objections of the defense, that it has enough merit to move forward.
Andrew Breitbart was not a nice guy. Within hours of Ted Kennedy’s death from brain cancer, he tweeted “Kennedy was a special pile of human excrement,” “a big ass motherf@#$er,” and a “duplicitous bastard.”
Matt Taibbi wrote a blog post in the Rolling Stone after the reports of Breitbart’s death. In it, Taibbi said about Breitbart what he surmised Breitbart would have said about Taibbi had the circumstances been reversed. Well, at least in tone. It was crude and rude in places (as Breitbart was so often) but also identified that Breitbart himself would expect nothing less and would most likely appreciate it. Taibbi also gives credit to Breitbart, if not for the outcomes, one might say his flare and being unapologetic about who he was.
Matt, the hateful comments not withstanding, your post was a fitting eulogy for a guy that sought angry controversy. Breitbart had a sense of humor and if anything could disturb his resting in peace it would be a gloomy and charitable eulogy by Matt Taibbi. Matt, if you had truly wanted to be mean spirited, your post would be a bunch of grief-stricken platitudes. Breitbart wouldn’t like it but at least you wouldn’t be getting death threats.