Why do we have to say nice things about dead people?
I've long wondered why people feel the need to say nice things about someone who just died. Tim Russert's death brought this up as many of the blogs I read posted short posts about how sad that was and made carefully worded statements about how influential he was on journalism.
I find that odd. I know I don't feel particularly sad that Tim Russert died. That's not callous. I didn't know Tim Russert. I suppose it's sad in general, but no more sad than anyone else I don't know who died today. And, frankly, if I died I wouldn't want a bunch of people I don't know feeling sad about it.
On the other hand, it would be appropriate to talk about how sad it was to lose such a great journalist (since that is what we knew of him). Except, well he was a pretty shitty journalist (I can't help but notice how the words influential and pioneering are used as opposed to great or good). He specialized in an odd brand of gottya journalism that seems tough but doesn't really prove anything one way or the other. Hell I'd argue that he had a *negative impact* on journalism.
I realize I am being the dick here, but why can't we just not say anything unless we are just reporting the death? I know this will be percieved as a dickish opinion.. but I submit fake empathy is pretty dickish too.
Update: I'm not alone.