Let’s be very clear about this.
When a public figure dies, someone who has caused significant change to the lives of many people, it is important to discuss their legacy – and not just if you’re a supporter.
Those who are grateful for what that person did, will certainly put the most positive case for the person who has died. If they have large soapboxes, these hagiographers will have significant influence on the way history views that person. And this matters when the ideas and actions of that person continue to have advocates who would like to see them repeated.
So it is critical that if the person who has died actually caused damage to the world, and hurt people, that the negative consequences of their actions be discussed just as loudly as the claimed positives.
It’s not rude. It’s not inappropriate. People don’t become saints when they die, and their bad ideas are still bad ideas that need to be called what they are, lest people hear the hagiography, forget that they’re bad ideas and think about trying them again.
But please don’t go gloating about people dying. It’s a dick move, whoever they are. It’s a dick move if it’s Chavez. It’s a dick move if it’s Thatcher. It’s a dick move if it’s a hideous dictator. It’s also silly, because it’s hardly a victory that they died – they were always going to. It hardly undoes the damage they did while alive.
For example, Thatcher was a terrible PM who did great damage to the UK. Her policies caused real harm to people in Britain, and have led to many of the problems the country faces today. Anyone trying to promote her legacy is either unaware of what she did to the poor and vulnerable, or doesn’t care. Here’s hoping history remembers her more accurately than the hagiographers would like.
Just don’t be popping champagne corks because some sick old woman has died, okay?