Few days ago Danish politician Mogens Camre passed away and as it often is when someone famous dies, a broad spectra of reactions floods the media. Nonetheless in this age of social media and nonetheless when the person at stake was a politician from the far right wing of the political landscape.
Reactions were many ranging from great sadness over a fallen hero, to joy and celebration of death of a disgrace for human race. Now, I could never cheer the death of a human being, regardless who they might be. Camre’s political friends and supporters of his party, Dansk Folkeparti (DF), were quick to praise him and strike hard on those who were quick to drag his name through mud. DF’s founder and current Speaker of the Danish Parliament, Pia Kjærsgaard, even went as far as saying that no one can allow themselves to call Camre a racist.
The statement comes across as bizarre and tragicomic especially taking into consideration that DF is a party who constantly reminds us of the importance of freedom of speech. The same party praises Denmark, Danish culture and legislation any chance they get, but the fact that Camre was found guilty of racism by the very same Danish law in 2015, doesn’t seem to have any credibility for the Speaker of Danish Parliament. Think about that for a moment.
But all that aside, one thing strikes me more than anything and it, as such, has nothing to do with this particular person, but the fact that anytime someone passes on, the “speak no ill of the dead” phrase resurfaces. Sure, sure, I see the idea behind it, but when all is said and done not speaking ill of anyone seems like a good idea. Even more so when it comes to the living.
What is it about death that makes us humans feel that we shouldn’t say anything bad about the deceased, despite the fact that we might have been disparaging them during their life? What is it that makes us think that's simply morally not justifiable, while at the same time we’re more than ok with speaking ill of them during their life? Speaking ill of others is far more damaging on the subject at hand and their surroundings when they are living, than when they are, well basically, maggot feast.
As mentioned above, I try my best not to speak ill of anyone – living or dead, but whatever I might be expressing on any living person – positive or negative, shouldn’t change in any way once they are six feet under. Anything else would be hypocritical to the degree of those statements from the Speaker of Danish Parliament, and who’d wand that.
The only thing that gives meaning when it comes to this is to speak of the dead as we’ve spoken of them while they were living. If you thought the subject was a prick during their time on this planet, then don't praise them once they are gone. And talking about that, how about speaking no ill of others altogether – dead or alive?
Now, that's a thought that sure does ... make me smile.
Photo: Claus Fisker