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Ocelot II

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Hometown: Minnesota
Member since: Sun Oct 26, 2003, 11:54 PM
Number of posts: 105,569

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On Grave-Dancing

Once again, a famous person who held distasteful political beliefs has passed away, and the grave-dancing has commenced. This time it was Kirstie Alley, an actress famous mostly for her long-standing role on Cheers. She was also an avowed conservative (although she withdrew her support for TFG in 2020 and announced she wouldn't vote for either candidate), and a Scientologist. Accordingly, some seem to think it's OK to celebrate her death because she's an "enemy."

Really?

My own criteria for acceptable grave-dancing (YMMV) upon the death of someone whose politics we deplore require considering the following factors:

1. Was the person currently causing a significant amount of social discord, suffering, or other trouble such that their demise will make a noticeable difference in people's lives? Or were they old adversaries who were no longer involved in any kind of public life; or people whose impact was merely annoying, but insignificant?

2. Did they have family, friends and/or associates who genuinely loved them, or were they so disagreeable or toxic that they won't be missed by anyone?

3. Did they ever do anything good or useful, irrespective of their politics; i.e., did they support good causes, donate generously to charities, or provide entertainment through their art, music, acting, etc.? Were they kind to children and animals? Or were they consistently greedy, uncharitable, mean, disinclined to help people or do anything to make their lives easier?

4. Did they contribute negatively or positively to public discourse; that is to say, did they express their opinions, however wrong-headed they might have seemed, courteously and rationally, or as insulting, hateful trolls?

Applying these criteria, I can't think of any reason to dance on Kirstie Alley's grave. She was just an actress with political opinions contrary to mine. I also didn't dance on the graves of John McCain, George H.W. and Barbara Bush, or Bob Dole. I didn't agree with them but I didn't hate them. In fact, the only graves I can anticipate dancing on, and might even do so with pleasure, would be Trump's and Putin's. They meet all of my negative criteria. As to other "enemies," I offer the wise words of Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass, written following the Civil War.

RECONCILIATION.

WORD over all, beautiful as the sky!
Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage, must in
time be utterly lost;
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, incessantly
softly wash again, and ever again, this soil'd world:
…For my enemy is dead—a man divine as myself is dead;
I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin—I
draw near;
I bend down and touch lightly with my lips the white face
in the coffin.
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