Say Nothing

How many of us were taught by our parents that “if  you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing”?

I bet most of us were.

This is not exactly a universal truism.  It’s okay, and even a duty, for example, to speak up if you don’t like what a politician who represents you is doing.  It’s also okay with regard to very prominent, influential people.  I’m thinking here of Jerry Falwell.  When he died, Chris Hitchens famously said, “If you gave Falwell an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox.”

Hitch had a right to have an opinion about Falwell and to voice it. Falwell lived for controversy, reveled in it, created it, and was especially nasty when it came to atheism.

But, mostly, and especially when it comes to a funeral, it’s a pretty good idea to just shut the fuck up if you can’t say something nice.

Several years ago, a man died.  He was somebody I knew well, and had known for many years. I couldn’t stand him.  I’d never liked him.  He’d never liked me.  I doubt he ever had a good word to say about me.  The last time I spoke with him (on the phone), he hung up on me. I called him back and hung up on him.  Childish, I know, but golly I despised him.

He died.  He died younger than he should have died.

I didn’t care that he died, frankly.  I didn’t even feel badly for his family because I believe they are all much better off without him.

But you know what?  I never said so publicly.  I said so to Dave, and that is it.  Even now, I’m not going to identify him.  It’s just not useful to say something like that.  There were a few people who didn’t like our son, and there was one guy who expressed that in public, in an online forum, in the days immediately after his death.  I read it. I know how it feels to read something like that, and I don’t want to cause anyone to feel that sort of pain, so I refrain.

If I don’t like the person who has died, and if they weren’t particularly prominent, or someone who was influential in my own life and/or the lives of people close to me directly on a large scale, the proper behavior for me is to say nothing at all.

Let’s go back to Jerry Falwell.  Hitchens said what he said in order to minimize the adulation that would occur with Falwell’s legacy.  He wanted to lessen Falwell’s posthumous impact, with good reason. He wasn’t saying something nasty just to be nasty.  He had a purpose in mind, a positive outcome he was reaching for.

What purpose could it have served if I said publicly I didn’t like the person that I knew that died?  What good could have come of that?

Nothing.

And I knew it, so I said. . . nothing.

The president of the Mormon church died.

Nicole is not a member of the Mormon church, by her own words. She left the Mormon church.

She did not know this man personally.  He didn’t affect her life directly, because to my knowledge, he didn’t change the policies or tone of the Mormon church in any way that led to her exodus.

So why does she need to say this?  Why even post it?  The only reason for sharing that link was to give herself a platform to say that she didn’t like him.

She doesn’t tell us why.  We come away with no more information than we had before we started. She just didn’t like him. [This, of course, opens up the way to a question: Does Nicole like anyone?]

Some people are going to judge you and they’ve never even met you.

Maybe Nicole ought to read the shit she posts.

 

 

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