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Rejoicing At Death

With the recent news that US Navy Seals have killed 9/11 mastermind and Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden comes the inevitable reaction of some who would dance, literally if they could, on the grave of a dead man.   On the Ehell forum, the decision was made by the moderators to block or delete threads in which people gleefully rejoiced of death.

We should carefully ponder our reactions to the death of any one, including the wicked and evil.  The decision to mete out earthly retribution should be entered into with soberness, solemnity and calm befitting a choice to see justice served.  Otherwise the taking of life becomes trivialized and we are no more civilized than the beasts who wantonly kill the innocent they view as worthlessly expendable.  Nor do we want to rejoice at death lest we show ourselves to be no better than the savages who hung the burnt bodies of US contractors from street lights and danced in joy.  No, I think we are much better than that.

I recently read the following on a Facebook status and it reflects my perspective:

“At this report of earthly justice, I am more sobered than celebratory. I pray that this moment will cause us all to treasure life and freedom, without honoring or affirming vengefulness or bloodlust. And please do not take pleasure in anyone’s entrance into hell or forget the mountain of mercy that we have received.” Don Shorey

Bin Laden was an evil man, he needed to be stopped and held accountable for his genocide.   I won’t weep for him but I will soberly reflect in thankfulness that he can no longer lead others into evil and be grateful for the peace and safety and freedoms we enjoy.

{ 86 comments… add one }
  • Kat May 4, 2011, 2:26 am

    I thought about this a lot myself. While my initial, 2-second reaction was “well it’s about time!” I soon started to think. I know he was responsible for a lot of deaths, but as big and bad as everyone made him seem, he was still just a man. Same with the soldier who killed him being viewed as a hero – he is still just a man who has to live with killing another person. I don’t think I could look a person in the eyes and then kill him. And his death does not bring back the people he killed.

  • Evelyn May 4, 2011, 3:03 am

    Quoting Chocobo – “I remember most vividly images that were streamed in on the evening news from Iran where adults and children were cheering in the streets over the tragedy of the World Trade Center.”

    I too can remember seeing tv-pictures showing people celebrating the events of 9/11, although I am unsure which country these pictures were from. But what I also remember was seeing pictures from a candlelight vigil in Iran, and reading that the Iranian leaders condemned the attack on the US. I was quite impressed by this, given the strained relationship between the US and Iran. You can read about this and see pictures here: http://www.time.com/time/europe/photoessays/vigil/index.html.

  • RMMuir May 4, 2011, 4:57 am

    Here in Britain, we don’t have the death penalty, so I know a few of us expressing concern over whether he should have been killed or not. Believe us, we do know he needed to meet justice, it’s just whether or not the death penalty is right. But that’s a slightly separate issue.

    @Athena Carson “1) A significant threat to our national security has been removed
    2) A strong message has been sent to anyone that would threaten us
    3) We have the military and intel capability to do #’s 1 & 2”
    The way that the British media have been reporting this, it sort of seems like you’re challenging them. :S I don’t know. I doubt that’s your intention.

  • Susan May 4, 2011, 5:26 am

    “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.”- Mark Twain

  • Xtina May 4, 2011, 7:53 am

    Admins, you summed it up exactly right. It is with great relief that I hear that the man is dead, and it personifies what a true coward he was that he went out in the end using a woman as his shield–that alone confirms his true nature even up to the last second of his miserable life. I am glad that such an evil person can do no more harm to innocent people, and I hope this will be a case of “cutting the head off the snake kills the body”. Though I suspect there are others who share his views and will take his place, hopefully the loss of such a strong leader of evil will help to water down the movement and promote its dying out.

    However, it seems ghastly to dance around and celebrate a death, even of someone as hated as bin Laden. God alone will judge him; it is not our job. I trust that he is already paying the ultimate price in Hell and will be punished for eternity; that’s enough for me to respect the station of death enough not to treat it so lightly.

  • Kovitlac May 4, 2011, 8:06 am

    APage: That is actually a false quote that has suddenly exploded on the internet in recent days. MLKjr never said that.

    This is hardly an ettiquite issue. People are happy that the man directly responsible for the deaths of so many innocents is gone from this Earth. This IS reason to be happy. And it doesn’t make the people celebrating anything like the comparisons made here. For one, I’m not celebrating the death of innocents. I’m celebrating the death of a single person who, in all liklihood, would have met the death penalty anyway.

    Nor would I hold anything against our brothers and sisters in New York, who were forced to face the consequences of Osama’s hate and evil head-on. Now would I hold anything against the families who have lost loved ones overseas. They all lost someone they cared about and loved. Did you? Does anyone here really have the right to judge how those people express their relief? Show your reactions with solemn meditation if you wish. But there are others who prefer something more jovial, especially those who have actually been effected by the evils of this man.

  • Powers May 4, 2011, 8:50 am

    I am not the kind to celebrate in the streets, but it’s a fine line between profound relief and jubilation; the former turns quickly into the latter when reinforced by the presence of a crowd. I do not judge anyone who participated in such outpourings of emotion; they are only human, and that’s what happens when profound emotions are experienced in large groups of humans.

    Bin Laden received more respect than he deserved; he had, by his actions, separated himself from humanity, and so he merits no respect as a human being.

  • Erica May 4, 2011, 8:53 am

    @Dottie Bruce

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday publicly revised the administration’s account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, telling reporters that the Al Qaeda leader wasn’t armed during the assault and didn’t use one of his wives as a shield.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/54162.html#ixzz1LOKhTKew

    I questioned that part of the story from the very beginning. While the man was evil and a zealot, from what I have understood about him is that he would have gone down fighting if he could.

    As for the issue of rejoicing at the death of this one [very evil] man… It should be obvious to everyone that fighting will go on, and there will be many more Osama bin Ladens to come; such people are nothing new in history, and have never been uncommon.

  • Wink-n-Smile May 4, 2011, 10:08 am

    When it was announced, I clapped a few times, not in celebration of his death, but in honor of the SEALS who did a job well done.

    I’m relieved that he’s gone, but not fool enough to believe that this is the end of it. Others will rise up and call him a holy martyr to the cause. However, justice has been served on him, and that is right.

  • vanessaga May 4, 2011, 10:56 am

    I am torn as well. I think a lot of the “celebrating” is a bit of release for those directly affected by the terrorist attacks and subsequent war. I think some people are happy without so closely examining their feelings as to count them as joy over death. I think its more a case of feeling as though at last our country is safer-whether or not it is true- something many of us have not felt for over a decade. I think we deserve that feeling and while being happy that someone is dead isn’t nessecarily considered correct, I am sure there are families are victims who are just that and I will not begrudge them that feeling.

  • Liz May 4, 2011, 10:58 am

    While I didn’t jump up and down with joy, I am glad our country was able to give closure to the families of 9/11. I’m glad his certain strand of evil no longer exists on this earth. I’m glad his people were able to witness the US fulfilling a promise. I am worried what the next step for terrorism will be, because it certainly isn’t over.

    It probably wasn’t appropriate for the masses to celebrate as they did. But when our country and government has had so many blows lately. Who’s to blame the country for celebrating a win?

    On another note. When I see those who ridicule others for celebrating a person like Osama bin Laden’s death, I wonder….did we also celebrate the death of Hitler?

  • kelly May 4, 2011, 11:01 am

    There is also another point here. Isn’t one of the places people are celebrating ground zero which is almost a gravesite as so many bodies were unrecoverable. It really seems rather savage to pick that one point to celebrate. You would not celebrate a guilty verdict in a murder trial by going to the place where the victim was killed and cheering.

  • Maitri May 4, 2011, 12:22 pm

    @RMMuir ~ I believe Athena was paraphrasing from the press conference that was given on Monday by a White House diplomat. I don’t recall the name, but I watched the PC when I was at lunch, and he said almost the exact same thing.

  • Jillybean May 4, 2011, 12:25 pm

    “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.”- Mark Twain

    That’s actually Clarence Darrow, not Twain.

    @Spud – on the MLK quote, to me, the most important part of it, can be attributed to him. One only need to look at the comments section on most internet articles to know that: “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

    I was reading an article on the MLK quote controversy, and the first comment in the comments section at the time, read: “‘The problem with quotes found on the internet is you have no way of confirming their authenticity.’ – Abraham Lincoln” That cracked me up.

    @Athena Carson, I agree with this sentiment: Those three things are reason enough to celebrate, dance in the streets, wave flags, chant “USA! USA!”, etc. Just because the evidence of those 3 things happens to be the dead body of a terrorist, doesn’t mean that every individual who is celebrating has crossed the line into “rejoicing at death”.

    I do think many are rejoicing the impact of his death rather than the death itself. If he were safely capture, I think many would be reacting the same way. But I don’t think that all are being so rational, and I think many are filled with hate. The problem with that is it festers, and the hate spills over. Just think about the way many feel about all Muslims and it’s easy to see why it’s a problem.

  • Athena Carson May 4, 2011, 12:30 pm

    @RMMMuir –

    Am not very familiar with British media, I’m afraid. I took a quick look at bbc.com, but it appeared to be just-the-facts -type news. So I have no idea how the British media is reporting it – care to enlighten me?

  • Louise May 4, 2011, 1:31 pm

    I’m not surprised that people went to ground zero to celebrate. That was the site of the attack that started it all. I’ve never considered the site a graveyard, though I can see why Kelly frames it thus.

    If a loved one of mine were killed and the killer brought to justice, I can see myself going to the spot where it happened and thinking, “This is where it all began. And now I know how it’s ended.” I wouldn’t cheer or throw a party, but it would provide me closure. And, for me at least, it would be celebration of sorts — justice being served, closure obtained. I think that’s what’s happening with the current celebrations, except they are naturally more exuberant because of the status of Osama bin Laden.

  • GroceryGirl May 4, 2011, 2:25 pm

    I couldn’t agree more and I offer this quote to back you up: ?”Our rabbis taught: When the Egyptian armies were drowning in the sea, the Heavenly Hosts broke out in songs of jubilation. God silenced them and said, “My creatures are perishing, and you sing praises?” Though we descend from those redeemed from brutal Egypt, and have ourselves rejoiced to see oppressors overcome, our triumph is diminished by the slaughter of the foe.”

  • Sharon May 4, 2011, 5:12 pm

    Oh, Kelly… you are right. My goodness, I never thought of that. How sad.

  • Elizabeth Bunting May 4, 2011, 10:08 pm

    The question is whether the Christian can forgive a murderer, a mass murderer, even — as in the case of Osama bin Laden — a coordinator of mass murder across the globe. I’m not sure I would be able to do this, particularly if I had lost a loved one. But as with other “life” issues, we cannot overlook what Jesus asks of us, hard as it is to comprehend. Or to do.

    For this is a “life” issue as surely as any other. The Christian is not simply in favor of life for the unborn, for the innocent, for those we care for, for our families and friends, for our fellow citizens, for our fellow church members or even for those whom we consider good, but for all. All life is sacred because God created all life. This is what lies behind Jesus’s most difficult command: “I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

    It is also what lies behind the Vatican’s statement today, which balances the desire for an end to terror with the sanctity of life, no matter how odious the person: “Osama bin Laden, as we all know, bore the most serious responsibility for spreading divisions and hatred among populations, causing the deaths of innumerable people, and manipulating religions for this purpose. In the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred.”

    Osama bin Laden was responsible for the murder thousands of men and women in the United States, for the deaths and misery of millions across the world, and for the death of many servicemen and women, who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives. I am glad he has left the world. And I pray that his departure may lead to peace.

    But as a Christian, I am asked to pray for him and, at some point, forgive him. And that command comes to us from Jesus, a man who was beaten, tortured and killed. That command comes from a man who knows a great deal about suffering. It also comes from God.

    James Martin is a Jesuit priest and the author of ‘Searching for God at Ground Zero’.

  • SJ May 4, 2011, 10:47 pm

    Sorry to get off topic. While that supposed quote by MLK does have a great sentiment, it is not something that he actually said. In fact, it was created only recently. See the Snopes article:

  • Max May 5, 2011, 3:22 am

    Thank you admin. I’m located in Australia, and I have to admit, I found myself rather disturbed by the behaviour I had seen. Not just at the fact it felt like the celebration for a death, but also because it basically was holding up a sign saying “Hey, come shoot us!”. My friend attempted to talk about this with more than one American only to be rebuffed each time with the confidence that it would be unlikely to ever happen again.

    Not saying that I’m painting all of America with the same brush, this post alone and the comments on it already show I’d be wrong in doing that. But a lot of the attitudes I have seen paint a rather barbaric picture.

    From an etiquette perspective: I am fairly sure any sort of celebration of someone’s death, no matter how you dress it up, is rather poor etiquette. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be happy or well, relieved preferably, about his death. But the celebrations that I’ve heard about and seen… That should not be happening. As more than one poster said: you get unhappy when they do that to you, but it’s perfectly fine when you do it to them?

    From a logical perspective: If you want to tempt fate, there are many safer ways than practically begging someone to step up and take his place. Only to be worse as the treatment of him could basically make him a martyr.

    I quite frankly would have preferred to hear about the wedding instead of this, and I hate weddings.

  • Laura May 5, 2011, 7:57 am

    Now granted there have been some displays of very bad taste out there. But I find it more than a little judgemental to assume that everyone is celebrating because “somebody’s dead”. There’s much more to it than that. Maybe people are celebrating out of a sense of relief, closure and hope. Hope that maybe now things will change, and we can put all this fear and frustration of the last 10 years behind us and move on, and our guys can start coming home.

  • Bint May 5, 2011, 8:17 am

    It certainly looked like bad taste to me, but is it actually an *etiquette* faux pas to celebrate the death of a mass murderer, as opposed to something some of us personally feel is wrong? Were all those people dancing on VE Day committing a major faux pas? What about celebrating when a major battle has been won, despite knowing that many will have been killed? Is that ok? Could they have got away with waving banners saying ‘Phew!’?

    This is a hugely charged moment for many people – and many are not religious, rendering several reasons given against this as invalid – no, it didn’t look great but who are any of us to tell these people that whilst there’s no Miss Manners guide against this, and no social standard, their reaction in a massively emotional situation is wrong because we personally don’t like it? That’s all this seems to come down to, to be honest. It isn’t going to affect what happens next.

  • Kovitlac May 5, 2011, 9:48 am

    To those thinking that this will only cause another attack, while I’m no saying that can never happen, you don’t tuck your tail between your legs and run away when something like 9/11 happens to you. Sure there may be attacks in the future – there was always attacks. We’ll never defeat terrorism, because it’s impossible. But the SEALS took out a man responsible for the deaths of so many people, who continued to pose a threat. If another attack happens, hopefully our defense measures will be enough to combat it before it actually carries out.

  • TM May 5, 2011, 9:56 am

    I’m saddened that the man is getting so much coverage that his death appears on, of all things, an etiquette website. Has everyone forgotten that there are thousands of people in the South struggling to regain what’s been lost in their lives? It seems as if they’ve already been forgotten in the midst of both the royal wedding and bin Laden’s death. Indeed, if you go to any major news website you won’t see a word about the devestation that occurred eight days ago. What does it say about us that we would rather discuss the death of a homicidal maniac?

  • Lizajane May 5, 2011, 11:30 am

    Actually, if you closely examine the tenets of many religions, death IS a time to celebrate. The person is moving on to heaven, nirvana or whatever you believe.

    The problem with celebrating in this situation is that I have to wonder if Bin Laden is truly going to a happy place.

  • Enna May 5, 2011, 3:53 pm

    I was watching BBC News the day it was annocunced and they were asking people what they thought: some said it was a good thing, they didn’t feel sorry for him, others recognised that it wasn’t over as someone else would take his place. One lady which I do agree with said: “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone” and when asked did she see it as a good thing she said something along the lines of: it could be a good thing in away – if there is no option but to do it then that’s what had to be done.

  • Cat May 5, 2011, 4:17 pm

    I have a agree that it is wrong to rejoice in a death. I support capital punishment only because there are some people who are so dangerous that allowing them to live endangers everyone else.

    I think of Ted Bundy. He repeatedly escaped from jail and, every time, went back to killing young women. The only way to stop him was to take his life from him.

    Execution is the ultimate way of saying that we have to remove someone from life for the benefit of everyone else. I wish there were other options for people like Hitler, Rasputin, ben Ladin… but I don’t know of one.

  • Jillybean May 5, 2011, 6:00 pm

    SJ – the MLK quote that is circulating is a 4 sentence quote – all of which is MLK but the first line. So while he may not have said the part about not rejoicing in death, I think his actual quote about how hatred spreads is actually the more relevant part of what people have posted.

    Kelly – while I understand your point about Ground Zero, having just been there recently (I spent a weekend in lower Manhattan in April), I can say that while it may represent a grave site, it is also a site of re-birth. The Freedom Tower currently rises 64 stories into the air with another 40 or so floors to go. NYC picked itself up off of the ground and battled back. It may have taken 10 years (with more to go), but the World Trade Center Site is rallying back. I have been to the site many times, the first in October of 2001, when steel frame from the lower levels of the towers still stood, while fires still raged below. The site isn’t as guarded or shielded as it was when I was there even a few years back. The neighborhood has rebounded more and more with each year. I’m not sure I support celebrating, but if there was a place to do it, I respectfully disagree that Ground Zero wasn’t that place. Where better to rejoice the end of that chapter than in the place that it started, in the place that wouldn’t stay down, but would rise up again in the great Manhattan sky line.

  • Eisa May 7, 2011, 3:02 am

    I admit I’m torn on this. To some small extent, I’m glad that he’s dead. I’m probably more relieved than anything else. It seems like an enormous boost for the U.S. that “we got him!” In other words–not only is he dead, but he didn’t die of old age, sickness, an accident, or another country or group killing him. The U.S. finally killed him. I think that might be part of why people are celebrating it.

    I can’t find it in me to actually celebrate it. It’s still a death. I don’t think they had any other choice, and I am glad that the evil contained in bin Laden is gone from the world, but evil will always rise up and replace that which has gone before.

    Another thing that truly disgusts me is how some people are trying to go partisan on the issue when it really should be a time when all of America comes together.

  • kelly May 9, 2011, 6:27 am

    But it did not start in New York, or end with his death. he had organized many terror attacks before 9/11 outside of America, and whilst he is dead, Al-queda is not and will continue with terror attacks. This was not a celebration of the end of terrorism, just the end of his life.

    Maybe it is becuase in Europe we are far more used to terrorism which has been going on for decades be it RAF, IRA , R.IRA or ETA to name the most prominent. We have only had one terror attack by al-queda in Britain, which while it was one of the biggest in regards to fatalities, was still just one terror attack. To be honest I feel safer in London now, than I would have done in the seventies or eighties when bombs were being left everywhere. I think that we do not therefore have this same sort of fear and focus on Bin Laden and so we do not see his death as the be all and end all. Instead there has been a lot of focus on the legality of killing him (which I have to say is a bit too high and mighty and hypocritical of us – we can go to war and kill thousands in the name of fighting terror, but heaven forbid one terrorist is executed).

    VE day was a celebration of the end of the war in europe, not a celebration of hitlers death which was not on VE day. I really do not think celebrating the end of a world war, and celebrating the death of one particular terrorist are akin.

  • SillyMe May 9, 2011, 10:43 am

    This is a few days after the fact, but here I go. Background: I live in a major New England city.
    When I first heard the news, I went to sleep believing that the rest of the world, and I, went to bed a little bit safer that night. That’s what I wanted to celebrate I held that feeling until today, when I stepped off the train station to see armed natioanl guardsmen posted every 10 feet. When one asked why I muttered to myself it was scarey, I said “It’s reassuring you’re here, but it’s scarey you have to be.” I think alot of the “rejoicing” was a relief at feeling a little safer. Now that I don’t anymore, I can see that.

  • Jillybean May 9, 2011, 5:30 pm

    @Kelly – of course you are right that it didn’t start there in the sense that it certainly wasn’t Bin Laden’s first crime, nor his first attack against US interests, or his first attack against the peoples of the World. But for Americans, it was the first terrorist attack on US soil (excluding domestic terrorism). Until 9/11 Americans lived with a sense of security that, unfortunately, many in the World have never been lucky enough to feel. To say that for most Americans it started that day, is accurate. So for me to say that for Americans it began at Ground Zero, is accurate. To say that New Yorkers, in particular, might have more reason to “rejoice” than others, is accurate. And I think they aren’t necessarily celebrating the “end of his life” – I think they are celebrating the “end of the threat he personally represented.” I firmly believe those celebrating (whether I would choose to react that way or not) would have celebrated equally at his capture, so it’s no about death, it’s about the removal of a threat. No one here believes his death represents the end of terrorism, but the elimination of Bin Laden as a threat means efforts previously devoted to finding him can now be shifted elsewhere. That’s a good thing.

  • Athena Carson May 10, 2011, 1:08 pm

    @Maitri – My thoughts are my own. If I sound like I am paraphrasing something else, that is entirely coincidental.

  • Dee May 14, 2011, 6:33 pm

    afbluebelle here, just apologizing for starting a thread on a banned subject. If I had read the main site first, I never would have done it.

  • boldtracks.com April 24, 2013, 11:29 am

    Why people still use to read news papers when in this
    technological globe everything is available
    on web?

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