Rejoicing At Death

by admin on May 3, 2011

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… read them below or add one }

ashley May 3, 2011 at 11:15 am

Thank you for bringing this up admin these are my thoughts exactly. I definatly didn’t weep for him, but I had still felt a great sense of relief that one of the most evil men in history is gone and cannot hurt anyone anymore. It kind of worried me at the same time though, because inevitably another al-Qaida leader will eventually take his place who may or may not be worse than Osama was. It’s like they say, you can kill a man, but it’s even harder to kill an idea or philosophy.

Reply

Marlene May 3, 2011 at 11:16 am

Thank you for your words. This is one of the most sober and balanced reactions I’ve read since Sunday regarding bin Laden’s death. I’m glad he’s been removed as a threat, but chanting “USA! USA!” and whatnot is no different from what terrorists do when they’ve executed one of their own plans.

And I believe the moderators made the right decision to block the forums from any threads relating to this subject matter.

Reply

Kat May 3, 2011 at 11:21 am

Well said. While I’m not sure I support the decision to block out dissenting opinions, I do agree with the sentiments expressed here.

Reply

APage May 3, 2011 at 11:23 am

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. 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.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Reply

Ashleigh May 3, 2011 at 11:27 am

Very well said. I’ve been thinking the same thing myself since it was reported that he was dead. If we are happy and celebrate his death, that makes us, in fact, no better a person than him. I’m grateful he can do no more harm to anyone, however, I won’t go and hold a party because of his death.

Reply

wittyone May 3, 2011 at 11:28 am

Thank you Admin for posting this. It is exactly how I feel this situation should be handled. I was relieved at the news of Bin Laden’s death, and feel it was just. But the images of people dancing and celebrating in front of the White House just moments after the president’s announcement left a bad taste in my mouth.

Reply

AS May 3, 2011 at 11:30 am

Agreed!

And I also do fervently hope that Pakistanis around the world are not going to be viewed suspiciously, or stereotyped in any bad way. Most of them are nice people like anyone else.

Reply

Just Laura May 3, 2011 at 11:32 am

Thank you for bringing up those poor contractors whose mothers will likely never sleep at night again. Many people forget them because they weren’t in the U.S. Military. As if that lessens their sacrifice and their family’s pain (my husband was a contractor for the same company in Baghdad).

I believe a person may rejoice that s/he is given closure by a death, or that the person now feels a measure of safety, as I did when Timothy McVeigh was executed. To make the happiness so loud and public is vulgar.

Reply

lkb May 3, 2011 at 11:41 am

Thank you for posting this. Rejoicing in someone’s bad fortune is never correct, particularly if it was a death. As a Catholic christian, it is my duty to pray for the repose of his soul and to comfort those in mourning.

“Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

Reply

Harley Granny May 3, 2011 at 11:53 am

I am so very happy to see this.
I don’t understand the total glee some are getting by another person losing their life.

Will I morn him? No but I won’t celebrate his death either.

Reply

Dottie Bruce May 3, 2011 at 12:02 pm

I agree-the man was a psychotic maniac who used his own wife as a personal shield in a failed attempt to survive. What we should expect from a religious zealot anyway.

Our government treated his remains better than some of our massacred soldiers were treated. Even their own Islamic clerics can’t decide if he was treated according to their faith or burying him as sea was an abomination. Perfect place for him-no grave to be treated as a shrine for future terrorists.

I just wonder who will take his place. And that thought scares me.

Reply

The Elf May 3, 2011 at 12:06 pm

From an etiquette prespective you are exactly correct. From a personal perspective, I’ll happily be a little rude.

Reply

M. May 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm

My thoughts precisely. Thank you.

Reply

Mddfarmer May 3, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Amen and thank you for putting so eloquently what many of us feel but were unsure how to express.
Let him stand before God for his crimes to be judged and let us work to prove that he is just an ugly footnote in history and to insure that such as he never comes back.

Reply

Ikorna May 3, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I very much agree. I live in New York, and to me 9/11 is very personal. Every day I see the skyline from where I live and how it’s been altered. I find bin Laden and his rhetoric repulsive, but I refuse to celebrate his death. Instead I am relieved that a madman has been halted and hopeful that the future will be better, but you won’t see me cheering and dancing in the streets.

Reply

SJ May 3, 2011 at 12:34 pm

I was not sad to hear he is gone. However, I do agree that it is probably not good to rejoice in someone’s death, but I’m glad this world is rid of him. I am also sad that some problems are so bad that killing someone is the best answer we can come up with.

Reply

Crissy May 3, 2011 at 12:37 pm

You put it succinctly. Thank you.

Reply

Chocobo May 3, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I’m glad that this came up on this site. This is not just an etiquette issue, this is a humanity issue.

I was just a teenager ten years ago when the attacks on New York City on September 11th, 2001 happened. Out of all the the images from that day that were all over the news, 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.

Clearly the death of one very disturbed and monstrous man cannot compare to the deaths of 3,000 innocent civilians. But still, I do not want to be seen around the world like the people I saw on television that day. The loss of any human life, no matter how depraved or how far from the path it has strayed, is not a cause to celebrate for me.

I agree with Admin. This is a sober time to reflect upon how best to move forward toward peace with one another; we haven’t just won a football match. A famous MLK Jr. quote is circulating the internet which I think sums it up perfectly:

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. 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.”
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Reply

Ista May 3, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Thank you!

Reply

Leslie May 3, 2011 at 1:00 pm

THANK YOU! I was very disturbed by the images I saw on the tv and the messages I saw on Facebook that were celebrating the violent death of this man and his compatriots. While I don’t regret that he is dead, and I agree he was about as evil as they come, to celebrate a death was just obscene. It reminded me very much of how his own followers would be seen rejoicing in the loss of Westerner’s lives after one of their attacks, which we all condemned. How then could we condone such behavior ourselves?

I applaud the brave service of those who carried out the raid. We did not deliver justice though – he will receive that from his Maker.

Reply

Athena Carson May 3, 2011 at 1:31 pm

While it is definitely not okay to rejoice at anyone’s misfortune, it is more than fine to rejoice that:

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

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”.

Reply

aje May 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm

thank goodness you posted this… I’ve been driving around my town reading posters that say “BIN LADEN IS DEAD! BLESS THE USA!”

Can one really celebrate a person’s death? Certainly relief is due. Certainly a sense of closure. But to celebrate with champane is a little… off.

Reply

Shiksagoddess May 3, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I feel like weeping from relief.
Thank you, so very much, for validating my feelings.

- the shiksagoddess

Reply

Hemi Halliwell May 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm

I agree with all the posts. I am glad he is gone but I will not dance and party at his death.

Reply

nannerdoman May 3, 2011 at 2:27 pm

APage, that quote actually doesn’t appear to be an actual MLK quote.

As another catholic (Anglican Catholic) Christian, I am also in the habit of praying for the dead, and mindful of our Lord’s command to forgive our enemies. The best I can come up with is, “Lord, judge him aright”.

I agree that his remains were handled with a lot more respect than those of his many victime.

Reply

Allie May 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Thank you for saying this. I wholeheartedly agree. At best, the celebrations are undignified, and at worst, they cause us to stoop to a level to which I’d rather not stoop.

Reply

fluffykait May 3, 2011 at 2:37 pm

I was glad to hear he had died, but not out of any revenge-feeling. I’m just glad that he won’t be able to hurt or kill anyone else, or be able to ruin lives of any more innocent people. However, many people feel very emotional about the subject, so their joy in his death is something I understand, even if I don’t feel it myself, and so I refuse to judge them for it.

Reply

David May 3, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Thank you for posting this, Admin.

This is an etiquette website. I assume that it is never good manners to rejoice in someone’s death.

Reply

lnelson1218 May 3, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I was reading an HR talk-board which brought up this very topic.

There were several posts “celebrating” the event and others feeling that bin Laden will not be missed, glad that he is gone, but also feeling that it is wrong to party at someone’s death. Some who simply said that their feelings were all over the place.

I fear that too many out there are correct. There will be another who will take his place.

Reply

Aunty Em May 3, 2011 at 2:59 pm

I too am glad to see this posted. It saddens me to see this news treated as a reason for happiness and celebration. Our goal was justice–not revenge. We should be mindful of our fellow Americans who lost their lives and treat this event with dignity and sober reflection. We should also be exceeding grateful to the people in our government who had to be responsible for the decision to go in and the members of our armed forces who risked their lives in fulfilling this mission.

Reply

Jillybean May 3, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Admin – a friend posted the MLK quote that APage posted this morning and received a lot of negative reaction. I had responded to her that while I think it is ok to rejoice in your heart that a man has been brought to justice (in this case, by death) was acceptable, because it is an emotional response of relief and fear. But yes, the celebrating in the streets leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Reply

cass2591 May 3, 2011 at 3:12 pm

In the midst of all the virtual dancing on bin Laden’s body on my FB feed, came this lone, sane comment from a friend of a friend:
“When Americans are killed and our enemies dance in the streets, we call it disgusting. Now one of America’s enemies is dead. We are dancing in the streets and we call it justice.”

Reply

Michelle P May 3, 2011 at 3:15 pm

As the wife, daughter, and granddaughter of military soldiers, I frankly am relieved at his death. My husband was deployed months after our marriage due to that evil man, and I still weep over September 11th.

Admin is right and states propriety with elegance, as usual. No, I will not celebrate his death, but I won’t pretend that I have pity for him. An evil man is in hell where he belongs.

Reply

Kat May 3, 2011 at 3:21 pm

It was commented on TV that some people outside the White House were singing “Hey Heyyy, Goodbye!” in response to the news. Even the broadcaster seemed a little sickened by that display.

Reply

springtime May 3, 2011 at 3:30 pm

I did not rejoice in the man’s death. First, I never feel it right to do so….ever. But, to say that it reduces our risk of terror or threats is remarkable. One man’s death is going to stop an entire terror group out to destroy the US? I don’t hardly think so. Killing this one man in no way brings back our military men and women who died because of him. His death is insignificant compared to the honor and loss of our troops. His death is insignificant when placed against the millions of dollars we spent to find him. His death did nothing to restore 9/11. Nothing was gained from the execution of that man, so there can be no rejoicing in death.

Reply

shiksa baba May 3, 2011 at 3:33 pm

good one

Reply

Sharon May 3, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Thank you for this post, Admin. Like Chocobo, the celebrations over his death reminded me of the people who celebrated on 9/11.
It is a good thing that he is no longer able to hurt others. Unfortunately, his hatred and madness live on as his heritage.

“Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.” Ezekiel 18:23 (New Living Translation)

Reply

Pam May 3, 2011 at 4:06 pm

I will add my thanks for posting this. I was suprised to see the celebrations in front of the White House on Sunday evening, but thought it might be more of a political showing of support for Obama. Then Monday I saw the celebrations going on in Time Square. While I may understand why New Yorkers feel the need to celebrate, I would feel a more somber type of rememberence would be in order.

Reply

YWalkalone May 3, 2011 at 4:31 pm

If we view this in a Christian light, there are many times in the Bible where God sanctions capital punishment as fitting retribution for murder. If you wish to leave religion out of this matter, let me quote my best friend: “It’s not about the death of a human being that they are rejoicing as much as it’s the closing of a chapter in American history and retribution of decades of heinous acts against us.”
I see nothing logically or morally wrong with being satisfied that justice has been done. There is a large difference, again logically and morally, between rejoicing at the death of innocents or unarmed combatants (like some did on 9/11, as other posters have mentioned), and being satisfied that a murdering sociopath has been brought to justice.

While I value this forum as a medium for us all to rationally discuss and respectfully debate–which I personally think is highly productive and should happen more in this world–I don’t think any of us are liable to change each others’ minds. I also do not think it right to view someone to be lacking in morality, character, or etiquette because they view world events differently than yourself–or because they rejoice not at the death of a man but at justice being done.

Reply

Amanda Kate May 3, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I’m just not that good a person. I think about all the innocent people that lost their lives on September 11th, and I can’t help feeling glad that the planet is rid of such an evil man. I’m not exactly dancing, but I’m still happy.

Reply

Leslie Holman-Anderson May 3, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Private, inner rejoicing is one thing. Dancing in the streets while chanting mockery is quite another. I’m doing the former. But I’m also grieving the waste of what could have been a great man: he had genius, charisma, wealth, and was a natural-born leader. That he chose to use all those gifts to lead millions into hatred and murder instead of to well-being is a tragedy, as the saying goes, of biblical proportions.

Reply

Louise May 3, 2011 at 6:36 pm

I’m torn on this. On the one hand, I think it’s appropriate to celebrate the neutralization of bin Laden and, hopefully, his branch of al-Qaida; the dedication of the government that accomplished this; and the closure it brings to 9/11. These are all things you could celebrate had he been captured instead of killed. Of course, it’s hard to disassociate what I feel are these legitimate reasons for celebration from his death.

On the other hand, I dislike how similar these celebrations are to those held overseas when Americans are killed.

Reply

Andrea B. May 3, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Thank you, Athena Carson! You expressed my sentiments exactly. While I’m not sad to see Bin Laden meet his maker, I won’t be dancing in the streets over THAT. NOTHING we do, and no one who dies will bring those people back to their loved ones.

However, I am very proud of our military and our intelligence agencies right now. And when I saw Americans at sporting events singing “God Bless America” and the National Anthem at the top of their lungs and then chanting, “USA! USA!” while various branches of the military were at the events, I got a little teary-eyed.

Reply

Spud May 3, 2011 at 8:31 pm

While I understand you all who posted the supposed MLK quote have good intentions, it’s not quite a genuine MLK quote: http://thedailywh.at/2011/05/03/follow-up-of-the-day-fake-mlk-quote-origin-found-on-facebook/

Reply

Laura May 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Thank you, Admins. I was struggling to find the words to explain the unease that I have felt since I saw this news. And you posted them for me.
I feel so much better that there are others who feel the way that I do on this issue. Love my eHell family.

Reply

HannaLee May 3, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I am so glad that someone else has similar feelings as I do here. When the news when public it was nearly midnight where I live, but I still received several phone calls to inform me of the news and invite me to parties in celebration. After 4 phone calls I turned my phone off. Apparently the response “I find it hard to find any joy in somebodies life being taken away, no matter whose it is. I don’t particularly feel like celebrating it at all.” was not something anyone wanted to hear. I was called un-American all 4 times. I do not mourn Osama bin Laden in the slightest, but it doesn’t change the fact that celebrating someone’s death feels wrong in every way, or at least to me. I have lost an amount of respect for a lot of my friends in this current situation.

Reply

Rebecca May 3, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I am not American; I have no idea what most Americans thought of the images of people dancing in the street and chanting “USA!! USA!!”

But as a non-American, I can tell you that I, along with just about everyone else I know, found it incredibly distasteful. It did not leave a good impression of America. We are glad they got him, really we are. But the image these yahoos projected to the rest of the world (even is we are on America’s side) was not a positive one. For me, it’s not really about rejoicing in a death. It’s more about the simplistic, “rah rah rah” attitude.

Reply

Lady Stormwing May 3, 2011 at 11:44 pm

I suppose I am in the minority here, as I am indeed glad that this personification of evil has been wiped off the map. Just as there are those who are not “rejoicing” or “celebrating” are upset and feel invalidated, so do I feel upset and insulted for being told my feelings of relief and happiness are somehow wrong, immoral, or otherwise inappropriate. People handle death in different ways- some dissolve into tears at funerals, others, for whatever reason, laugh. I am not upset in the slightest that a man who would kill me, my family, even my cat without a moment’s hesitation is dead. I’m not literally out in the streets dancing, but I am very, very proud of our soldiers, our most recent presidents (Bush and Obama), our intellegence agencies, and those “keeping the faith”, whatever faith that might be, at home. E pluribus unum.

Reply

Ally May 4, 2011 at 12:27 am

Thank you for confirming what I have been feeling. When I heard he died I said to my friend “Oh really, well thats good”, and then I watched the LIVE footage streaming from the White house and NYC and it almost seemed barbaric and Medieval the way people were cheering and celebrating.

I know he was evil, but I still cant ever be happy in the event of someones death. It just doesnt sit right with me.

I loved that Martin Luther King quote, so eloquent and exactly the way I feel.

Reply

Jayne May 4, 2011 at 12:46 am

Thank you for this. I am from Australia and the people around me seem to agree that whilst there is relief that one of the most evil and poisonous men of our time is no longer a threat, that death is not something to be celebrated. Certainly not in the ways that Australian media has shown some places in the US to have done so – some of the international news headlines horrified me (and I also understand that the media has shown only a tiny fraction of the reactions, possibly and even most likely, entirely for shock value.)

The ugly and harrowing truth is that there will be reprisal planned for his death, which is a sobering thought, and I can only hope that security all over the western world has the strength and insight to protect any innocent people potentially caught in the crossfire. We do not one monster replaced with another.

Thank you, Admin, for verbalising the thoughts and feelings I did not feel safe saying online, in the midst of some almost feral celebrating within my internet bubble.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: