Author Topic: Meanness  (Read 6087 times)

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ladyknight1

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Meanness
« on: April 08, 2013, 10:00:21 PM »
This morning, after the death of Margaret Thatcher was announced, I came across someone saying they would dance on her grave for the (perceived) horrible things English people suffered when she was prime minister. I replied that I don't condone speaking ill of the dead, especially someone who has just passed.

My in-laws asked a lawyer they knew to do the work on MIL's mother's estate. MIL was unhappy (most likely in denial) that the estate was nearly destitute, and when the lawyer passed away, she was very happy and frequently spoke ill of the lawyer.

IMHO, this kind of thing goes beyond the pale, and is just mean. How does one respond to meanness?

Sharnita

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Re: Meanness
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2013, 10:04:26 PM »
Especially something like the first example I might honestly respond "I guess that speaks more to your character than to hers."  In the second case I guess it would depend on what she was saying specifically.

StarFaerie

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Re: Meanness
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2013, 10:13:52 PM »
I think this may be a difference of opinion in what the dead are due. Some people don't like to speak ill of the dead and others see that the dead are owed nothing but the truth and, of course, all opinions in between.

Best thing I have found with such a fundamental difference of opinion is to smile, nod and, if you are personally offended (ie it's a relative or a friend being bad mouthed) ask them not to speak so in front of you.

TootsNYC

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Re: Meanness
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2013, 10:16:15 PM »
From an the point of view of Etiquette (as opposed to Character), I think badmouthing anybody, alive or dead, is rude to the other people who are forced to listen to it.

Sharnita

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Re: Meanness
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2013, 10:18:07 PM »
I think this may be a difference of opinion in what the dead are due. Some people don't like to speak ill of the dead and others see that the dead are owed nothing but the truth and, of course, all opinions in between.

Best thing I have found with such a fundamental difference of opinion is to smile, nod and, if you are personally offended (ie it's a relative or a friend being bad mouthed) ask them not to speak so in front of you.

But the truth then would be "I feel that _______ act/policy/bahavior was harmful so I have never particularly liked deceased."  I don't know that I agree that needs to be said - especially as a public pronouncement but I think that is different from "I would like to dance on their grave"

Library Dragon

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Re: Meanness
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2013, 10:27:45 PM »
Sharnita

POD.  If someone I didn't like died I wouldn't pretend to mourn, but there is no reason to be hurtful or mean.  This is disrespectful to the living.

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CluelessBride

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Re: Meanness
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2013, 10:33:06 PM »
I don't think there is anything wrong with saying bad things about the dead, so long as they are true. Mass murderers and rapists don't suddenly become angels upon death (as an extreme example), and I think it does a disservice to the living to pretend otherwise.

That said, I do think that common courtesy dictates that we consider the feelings of those we are talking with before speaking (about anything, not just people who have died). In close proximity to a death, there are likely to be a lot of strong and sometimes mixed emotions. So I think its best not to avoid saying anything particularly controversial, positive or negative, without knowing your audience (expressing wonderful sentiments about a deceased serial killer in front of the victims family would be just as insensitive as expressing hatred for someone who recently died in front of someone who cared for the deceased).

In the case of the 1st example, I think it is fine to make it clear you are uncomfortable with the discussion. I like Sharnita's wording for something witty. You could also go with something simple like, "I prefer not to speak ill of the dead" or "I'd rather not talk about that."

In the case of the 2nd, if MIL was simply stating facts/complaints (e.g. that stupid lawyer messed up XYZ paperwork!) in a way she would have with they lawyer still alive, I (personally) would let it slide. Some people just have trouble letting things go.  If she was saying things like "I'm so glad lawyer is dead, he really got what he deserved!" I'd treat it like the 1st example.

Kaypeep

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Re: Meanness
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2013, 10:37:52 PM »
I suppose it was rude of me, but I had a teacher in JHS who was particulary twisted and cruel to me and my younger brother for two years.  During this 2 years my family was dealing with my mom battling cancer, and then my dad who eventually succumbed to cancer.  It was a horrible time for my family and the fact that school wasn't even an escape from our misery just made it worse, because of this teacher. I was 13 and my brother was 11.  This teacher was mean and cruel, tormenting my brother and antagonizing me.  My mother complained to the principal and nothing was done.  The torment he gave my brother carried over as other students picked up on the cruel nicknames he gave my brother and they teased him all day long and even after school.  When we got to HS I heard that he died and my response was simply, "Good."  I will gladly accept a ticket to E-hell because I'm sorry but I have no remorse or regret and wouldn't deign to fake even polite sympathy when hearing that news.

I would NOT, however, be rude to his family or anything like that.  I heard the news of this teacher via a schoolmate's mom who worked on the PTA and still had old contacts at our old school.

magician5

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Re: Meanness
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2013, 10:54:03 PM »
A ventriloquist named Wayland Flowers used to have his acid-tongued puppet Madame say "They say you should never speak ill of the dead. Well, he's dead. Good."

There are some dead people who deserve the rewards they brought on themselves in life. But whether they were loved or hated, I think it's usually best to keep your opinion unspoken, for numerous reasons.
There is no 'way to peace.' Peace is the way.

LeveeWoman

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Re: Meanness
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2013, 11:25:35 PM »
This morning, after the death of Margaret Thatcher was announced, I came across someone saying they would dance on her grave for the (perceived) horrible things English people suffered when she was prime minister. I replied that I don't condone speaking ill of the dead, especially someone who has just passed.

My in-laws asked a lawyer they knew to do the work on MIL's mother's estate. MIL was unhappy (most likely in denial) that the estate was nearly destitute, and when the lawyer passed away, she was very happy and frequently spoke ill of the lawyer.

IMHO, this kind of thing goes beyond the pale, and is just mean. How does one respond to meanness?

Perhaps with this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okHGCz6xxiw


mmswm

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Re: Meanness
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2013, 11:44:44 PM »
I think silence speaks volumes in these cases.  My grandmother was not a nice person, to put it mildly.  When she died not a single one of her adult grandchildren, and only two of her 5 surviving children (she had 7, but one died in infancy and another passed away a few years prior) went to her funeral.  One of those two children was only there because he was local and the other one guilt tripped him into going and the two grandchildren who were there were still minors and the children of the child who was doing the guilt-tripping. When a person had 6 kids who survived into adulthood and 14 grandchildren, plus far to many great-grandchildren (some of whom were nearing adulthood) for me to keep track of, yet so few people actually attend her funeral, nothing more really needs to be said about her character.
Some people lift weights.  I lift measures.  It's a far more esoteric workout. - (Quoted from a personal friend)

WillyNilly

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Re: Meanness
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2013, 12:00:12 AM »
I think its fine to have a policy to not speak ill of people, but I see no reason why "the dead" should get special consideration. There are some people the world is better off without. The absolutely nicest, most wonderful, positive happy thing I can tell you about my material grandmother is "she's dead". The world is happier, more peaceful, more loving, less hateful place without her alive. And while I certainly would temper my words around my cousin who had very different relationship with her, I'm speaking ill of no one to say I was happy when I heard she'd died - with her death came the end of some very ugly feuds, feuds that she alone held alive. When she died, the feuds died, and things got better for many.

I don't reserve such feelings for the dead - I had nothing good to say about the woman when she was alive. Heck when she was a live had nothing positive to say, so in fact I've gotten much nice since her passing. So I think, if you don't think well, or speak well of someone when they are alive, I see no reason for that to change once they are dead. The only argument is that perhaps one should never say anything negative about anyone, as its always somewhat mean, even if true.

cicero

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Re: Meanness
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2013, 12:14:01 AM »
I also think there is a difference between what a politician did in office and the kind of person h/she were. I think line should be allowed to say 'I did not appreciate her brand of economic restrictions' or 'I'm glad she is no longer around to be prime minister'. That isn't the same as 'i'll dance on her grave'.

For the regular folk who die- unless we are talking about an extremely abusive/criminal person, I might not always find something nice to say, but I'll find something neutral , or keep quiet. For someone extremely abusive I will say 'the world is a better place today'-but that is for thev extreme cases


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Raintree

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Re: Meanness
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2013, 01:14:30 AM »
When I heard that a former teacher passed away, the buzz on Facebook amongst my former classmates made it sound as though he was much loved and admired. That isn't what I remember. I remember him for his mean-ness, lack of encouragement, disparaging comments, and I particularly remember leaving his classroom in tears one time because the night before, I'd worked particularly hard in his course, was quite proud of myself for what I'd accomplished, and before he'd had a chance to see it he found an excuse to say to me, "You are lazy and do not want to learn." (Because I didn't know the answer to a question he posed to me in class, especially since I couldn't understand his accent). I recall others having the same opinion of him. So 25 years later, when I heard on Facebook that he had died, and saw all the glowing praise for him, I stated, "That isn't my memory. I remember (he was a bully, mean, etc)" and one or two others piped up, "Thank you. That is how I remember him too." (I did add that he was probably a generally good person and that his family must be devastated to lose him). But the conversation kind of fell silent after that, and I wondered if I had broken some kind of social convention, ie that all dead people must suddenly become amazing human beings in our memory.

Last_Dance

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Re: Meanness
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2013, 02:18:57 AM »
I think it's different when it comes to people who have deliberately and knowingly mistreated us because of who-knows-what petty reason excuse. We can't expect to be entirely rational about it.
There's nothing wrong in saying "that's not how I remember him/her" as opposed to going on a rant and yelling at the other people who remember the deceased differently.

However, it looks like it's mostly public figures who attract this "they're dead, let's party" reaction - and often it's from people who weren't even affected by said public figure at all!
We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.