Speaking ill of the dead

by Russ Roberts on March 1, 2012

in Hubris and humility, Politics

Andrew Breitbart has passed away. I didn’t know him. I never met him. I know little about him. I know he had something to do with the hidden camera video that exposed ACORN as not being very particular about the kind of people that they helped. Google it if you don’t know about it. He was a conservative. A conservative activist with a bit of the prankster in him. That’s what I know. Anyway, Breitbart has died at 43.

Here is what Matt Yglesias just tweeted (misspelling Breitbart’s name):

Conventions around dead people are ridiculous. The world outlook is slightly improved with @AndrewBrietbart dead

Huh? I have no trouble with the idea that when bad people die it’s OK to say bad things about them. But that second sentence stuns me. For starters, Breitbart leaves behind a wife and four kids. I would never presume that one’s public acts dwarf the private ones. But put that aside. Somebody dies whose politics are different from yours and you conclude that the world is now a better place?

I am sympathetic to the idea that my views on how the world works are the right ones. But dear God, please spare me from hubris that says people who look at the world in a way that is different from my own make the world a worse place and their passing is a plus.

Maybe these really are uglier times than usual.

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