I imagine everyone has heard that Jerry Falwell died yesterday. All the queer-lovin', pinko commie lefty blogs I read made mention of it. Surprise, no one was too broken-up about it. In the blog entries themselves and their accompanying comments, people acknowledged they were not sorry to see him go. There was lots of speculation about what part of hell he was now inhabiting, and who his cellmates are. A certain number looked forward to dancing or spitting on his grave. There was in fact, a distinctly celebratory air. Then, as is usually the case in these situations, some voices called this tone unseemly. "A man has died," more than one person said, "his family is no doubt grief-stricken. It is cruel, ugly, and gives us homos a bad name to be crowing like this over someone else's suffering."
Okay, I see no benefit to rubbing salt in the wounds his loved ones are no doubt presently suffering. I would, however, like to point out that crowing over the suffering of others was one of Falwell's favorite pasttimes. Here, stolen from Joe.My.God. are a few choice quotations from this good Christian Leader.
- "If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being."-
"AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh's charioteers."-
"(9/11 is the result of) throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools, the abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked and when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad...I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who try to secularize America...I point the thing in their face and say you helped this happen."
(Falwell did end up apologizing for this last comment, but I don't think he actually changed his mind about it, he just recognized he'd alienated more people than he wanted to. I'm not letting him off the hook for it.)
Because I found the man's actions loathsome, hateful and irresponsible, I'm not interested in playing his game. I don't need to dance on his grave. I choose not to because I think it's beneath me, though, not because of any reverence for him.
I don't know that his death really changes much. Maybe without his leadership, his fellow hatemongers will lose some momentum or political clout, but the view he spoke for isn't going anywhere just because he's dead. I still believe that firm demands for our civil rights combined with a conciliatory effort to alleviate others' ignorant prejudices is the best way forward. Crowing over someone's death doesn't really help our cause, and has us emulating some of his ugliest actions. Without scolding anyone who does feel like having a party, I am choosing not to indulge, for now.
Nonetheless, I too have to say I will not shed a tear over the death of this vicious, judgemental, hidebound hypocrite, a man who celebrated the suffering of millions, called for several more millions to die (including yours truly), and danced on as many graves as he could.