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the morning after
by katherine l (aka clevertitania) (@CleverTitania)

So it's been about 9 hours now, since I first heard the news that Osama Bin Laden is dead (thanks to an email from Media Matters) and opted to go watch things unfold on Twitter instead of going to bed. And aside from quotes directly by the administration and news organizations, the most popular quote circulating Twitter seems to be...

I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure. - Mark Twain

For the record; I'm not sure it's an accurate quote. I've come across a few instances where the quote is actually started with, "I've never killed a man, but..." so hard to say. Either way though, the sentiment is real, and I think it's important.

There are those who would complain that it's guilt for being 'happy' a human being has died, no matter who that human being is/was, that makes that quote so popular. After all, we should feel ashamed at ourselves, and so should all those people celebrating at Ground Zero, The White House, and anywhere else things got festive last night. But I think there's an important distinction to be made here.

I think it is quite apparent to anyone, particularly in light of some of the quotes we heard from attendees last night; no one is particularly celebrating that he's dead, so much that he's gone. I believe - and I'd be surprised to hear anyone argue against it - that the celebrations last night would've gone on exactly as they did if Osama hadn't resisted or had otherwise been taken into custody alive. I am quite certain there'd still have been people crying in the streets of NYC if the POTUS' announcement had been, "We got him. He's on a military transport, on his way to a secure location, and he'll stand trial just like Saddam did."

OBL (as he's suddenly being common referred to as on Twitter), no matter what else you think of him, was a mass-murderer who created more mass-murderers. Politics and religion don't change that. Sure, to him - and his devotees - he was a soldier and a hero. But to the bulk of the world, including the bulk of the Arab world, he was a killer plain and simple.

However, the argument of those 'disappointed' in the revelers is that all human life is precious and it's ending should never be celebrated, no matter whose life it is. But psychologically, I would completely disagree. When a serial-killer is put to death, some will cry and some will cheer, but everyone's reaction is born of the end of that person's carnage and closure for the loved ones of his victims. No one's reaction is that a single individual has been killed, and hey isn't that swell.

Celebrations are born of the relief of knowing that the person can never hurt anyone again; and considering the fear that men like Bin Laden have forced upon this world, it's nothing by healthy to celebrate another piece of that fear being removed from our lives. Even if you hate the death penalty, you don't bash a murder victims families for being glad their loved ones' killer is no longer on the planet.

Osama Bin Laden was responsible (by his own admission) for the deaths of thousands of individuals, of every race, color, creed and nationality. Due in no small part to the scope of the destruction on September 11th, hundreds of thousands were directly affected by his actions; and millions were indirectly - but often still deeply - affected. That people would be celebrating an end to his destruction is a completely natural and expected reaction, no different than celebrations that followed the deaths of mass-murderers before him, including Hitler, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein.

Amidst the complaints last night, I felt the need to tweet the following...

Every1 chanting in NYC would prefer a world where OBL died as an old innocent farmer, than the world where he was shot using a human shield.

And that's what it comes down to for me. Every single person who cheered last night, would rather live in a world where Osama Bin Laden wasn't someone who's death would save lives. Every one of them would also rather have lived in a world where Hitler became a second-rate artist than the monster he died as. They'd rather be living happily with loved ones lost to these killers than celebrating the deaths of any man - including a man who's croneys use a woman as a human shield. But what they're celebrating isn't death and destruction; it's the protection of future life and justice for lives lost. They are celebrating the cessation of death - if only from one corner of this ongoing conflict between fundamentalism and the rest of us.

What's being celebrated is that a man who continued to plot the deaths of others is no longer doing so; and that a symbol for that kind of death and pain is no longer there to inspire more martyrdom. And that is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is it something to shame others for. Especially in a world where terror hasn't been ended, just stymied a bit.


When I grow up, I want to be; whoever Joss Whedon wants to be, when he grows up. I am a writer because it's the first thing I want to do when I wake up in the morning; aside from eating and using the lavatory of course. My work includes screenplays, short stories, film/TV/music reviews and socio-political commentary. The last one is a fancy way of saying I like to shoot my mouth off on many topics. I excel at using $1.50 words. They gone up, thanks to inflation. Isn't our economy awesome?

more about katherine l (aka clevertitania)


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adam kraemer
5.6.11 @ 11:33a

It was actually Clarence Darrow: "All men have an emotion to kill; when they strongly dislike someone they involuntarily wish he was dead. I have never killed anyone, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction."

katherine (aka clevertitania)
5.6.11 @ 2:10p

Thanks Adam. I did research it for a few hours, before I wrote this. But the problem with social media being folded into search results and blog pages... once a quote's spent enough time on Twitter it becomes damned hard to find any original/reliable sources for it.

Since then, someone else (with more resources) confirmed it was a bastardization of the Darrow quote. http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2011/05/how-to-explain-to-your-kids-why-its-ok-to-celebrate-osama-bin-ladens-death/

mike julianelle
5.9.11 @ 10:30a

A friend of mine created a new piece of copy for a poster that has become something of a meme online these days:

"Google before you Tweet is the new 'Think before you speak.'"

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