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Faces of Inhumanity

May 18, 2007

I understand that Jerry Falwell was an unpopular person, even a bad person. I am quite sure he brought a lot of harm to a lot of people, perhaps for generations to come. However, I am very uncomfortable gloating over his death. I would be open to gloat over his resignation or if he was brought down due to a scandal. In such cases, I would gloat because in an inverted way it is a hopeful gloat. If a person is still alive, a scandal, an epiphany possesses a possibility for change, change that can take place in this lifetime. If that person is dead, they are just that, dead. Of course, that person’s death could possibly lead to changing someone in a positive way who was influenced by that person, however, often with a death, the reversal is true, and resentment and bitterness triumph. Or worse, a false legacy is kept alive as a show of misguided reverence.

I do not think it is religion, because I am not convinced of a Heaven or Hell, actually sometimes I wonder if life is Heaven, or at times, if life is Hell. Still, I cannot cosign with the rejoicing of a person dying. I allowed myself a few days in order to think about it and I most certainly do not want to shame anyone into silence, but I do, for myself, want to make it clear that my silence is not consent. In my heart, I think gloating over a death is wrong. I remember when I saw the pictures of Saddam Hussein’s sons (and even Saddam Hussein himself) and thought, these two were children once. Just look at what their influence had on the world and what influence the world had on them. Which came first is debatable.

I am inclined to think there is an afterlife that consists of a death and rebirth until we get it right, whatever it is. I just hope this death leads to a life that will get Mr. Falwell closer to whatever it is, unlike the progress I believe he did not achieve in this life. Then again, this life may have been one of his lives on the upswing and he could have been someone ten times worse since the history of the cosmos. Who knows? I do not, I just know the gloating does not feel right.

4 Comments
  1. Not Your Mama permalink
    May 18, 2007 8:10 am

    a false legacy is kept alive as a show of misguided reverence.

    That is the only reason his death concerns me at all. I have no interest in the man at all at this point, he’s gone. It’s the legacy of intolerance that needs to die.

    I’ve really “gloated” over a death once and coincidentally it WAS Saddam’s. In the heat of the moment all I could see in my head was the picture of the dead Kurdish woman laying in the street still holding her dead child.

    After seeing the footage of his execution, all I felt was sick and disgusted with myself for being no better than the people who filmed it.

    In retrospect I’m not sorry either of these men are no longer doing what they were doing. Both were twisted, destructive individuals who did an incredible amount of damage to an incredible number of people but I wouldn’t say I’m “joyful” they had to die for their actions to cease and desist. Does that make any sense?

  2. Cheryl permalink
    May 19, 2007 3:44 am

    Hey, Kitty Glendower, I am right there with you, for all the reasons you mention, and a few more. The thing about guys like Falwell is that Falwell really, truly BELIEVED all that stuff he was saying. He believed in a literal male deity who had a literal son who was actually himself, a literal “Holy Spirit,” a literal trinity, a literal heaven and hell. He really believed that the only way to go to heaven was to be “saved,” to “confess Jesus as personal Savior.” He believed in taking the Bible literally (subject to all the various and sundry rules and hoops fundies set up to make literalism “work” well enough for them anyway) and — most importantly — he believed that God would hold him personally accountable for the souls of people he met and for how “obedient” he was. He HAD to “witness” and “preach the gospel” and “obey god” or suffer the divine consequences. I don’t write this to excuse or justify anything he said or did, of course, but to make the point that in Falwell’s mind, he did what he did for the love of God and the love of people too. Of course, that is all upside down bullshit, we see that, but people like Falwell inhabit a word world, and bizarre upside-down-ness makes perfect sense to them.

    I view Falwell as I view all fundamentalists– as someone who medicated himself with religion because that particular medication worked for him. Some people take drugs, some people drink too much, some gamble, some become fundies. Like other addictions, totalist religion can, to a degree and sometimes, numb the pain of living. It’s like all other addictions (and I don’t even believe in “addiction” in the conventional sense but use the word because in general it communicates what I’m intending, the way people lean on something and can’t let it go, even when it really costs and hurts them) in that it wreaks havoc with relationships, turns honest people into liars, causes people to do stupid things for stupid reasons, causes them to waste their lives, dulls their hearing and blinds them. I hate what Jerry Falwell said and did and how he hurt people, but he was just one person and he couldn’t have done what he did without the legions of persons who supported him. Those people are still out there, and many, many of them are FAR more dangerous than Jerry Falwell ever was and worst of all, most people don’t even know their names. So to get all happy about Falwell’s death a a little over three score and ten? Why? He’s the least of our worries and has been since the 80s, early 90s at the latest. He was fucked up, but hey, most men are!

    To me, being gleeful over Falwell’s death bespeaks a fairly horrifying level of hubris or callousness or misanthropic tendencies. To actually care about humanity is to realize that, like it or not, we are all connected, and what happens to one affects us all, and what we do to and one another, for good or ill, in all likelihood, is going to come back our way in time. The gleeful people make me think they don’t realize how connected we all are, really, or they really have never thought about the way we tend to get back what we give out. They really don’t care about humanity at all. To me, they are scarily, again, disconnected. So, I don’t want any part of it. It’s foolish to view Jerry Falwell or Saddam Hussein or any of these guys as monsters or bigger than life or to be relieved because they die or bad things happen to them or whatever. The only difference between them and most of the gleeful men, especially, is, they had power, and the gleeful people don’t. Yet. Which is also scary!

    And your post is why I like YOU Kitty Glendower, or one reason. 🙂

    Heart

  3. E. K.(Kitty) Glendower permalink
    May 19, 2007 6:46 am

    I am glad you responded Not Your Mama. As I said, I do not want to shame anyone and I did not have you in mind. I think it is good when we (collective) can have various point of views and not insist on designating a “you are right and “I’m wrong” or “you are wrong and I am right” bent to the dialogue. When I thought about people gloating over Falwell’s death I could only think of how nasty and mean misogynists got when Anna Nicole Smith died. It was horrible, simply horrible. And when I attempted to exchange the sexes I could not conclude it was right to gloat over the one death just because he was a part of a group that has contributed to my oppression more than she was part of a group that has been oppressed. I am grasping here, because point by point they are not the same, she did not cause the havoc that he caused but still if we keep the dynamics alive the dynamics will stay alive, if you know what I’m saying.

  4. E. K.(Kitty) Glendower permalink
    May 19, 2007 6:55 am

    Yes Heart it is the power, at least it is when it comes to magnitude, because I am sure you know full well, of course you do, you are a woman, that a man can be seen powerless compared to his “brothers” and still assert power over women, hence, creating his own version of personal power.

    To actually care about humanity is to realize that, like it or not, we are all connected, and what happens to one affects us all, and what we do to and one another, for good or ill, in all likelihood, is going to come back our way in time. The gleeful people make me think they don’t realize how connected we all are, really, or they really have never thought about the way we tend to get back what we give out.

    The gleefulness tends to have a warrior quality that I am not comfortable with, a warrior attitude, as in the celebration of victory in a war. I think if we, especially women, adopt this warrior type quality we are doing nothing more than duplicating men, which may lead to women being the next in charge but not anything different than we have now, which does little for humanity. It will be history repeating itself, but with a different face (or sex organ).

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