The above question is one that has been plaguing my thoughts more or less the whole week following the death of Margaret Thatcher and the actions of a minority group of (so called) humans who have felt the need to respond to her death by attempting to get an inappropriate novelty record to the top of the UK singles chart. Those of you who follow me on twitter will certainly be fully aware of my feelings on the campaign as I have been overly vocal on them to the point where a couple of people have unfollowed me. Not that I feel any loss if someone feels the need to unfollow me on twitter because I object to people celebrating death. If anything that’s just more of an indicator as to the kind of person they are rather than anything about me.
Before I begin this post in depth let me just state for the record where my political leanings are. The vast majority of my political views are left of centre. I don’t consider my political views to be relevant to this post but a lot of people in the relevant Facebook groups are very quick to badge anyone buying Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead as a lefty and anyone who objects to it as a Tory Thatcherite. However my objections don’t stem from any political viewpoint but are for humanitarian reasons.
So when did it become socially acceptable to celebrate someone’s death? My thoughts are drawn to recent deaths of people who were generally hated and the two most recent examples are Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Certainly a lot of people didn’t lose any sleep when these two people died but were their deaths celebrated? I certainly don’t recall any partying in the street or attempting to get novelty records into the charts when these two people died and both these people orchestrated campaigns of mass murder things which are far worse than anything done by Thatcher who may have done things which were unpopular with some people but end of the day she was democratically elected by the people not once, not twice but three times so clearly she was doing something right in the eyes of the British people at the time.
So when did it become socially acceptable to celebrate someone’s death? Clearly some point after the death of Osama Bin Laden then. But is everyone celebrating her death? Certainly there is a group of people who are but then equally there is another group of people saddened by her death. There will also be a group of people who aren’t bothered one way or another. Finally there is another group of people who are probably happy she has died but who aren’t choosing to express that happiness. Heading back to the Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein examples above I think for those deaths I probably fell into the final category. There was a touch of relief/happiness for about 5 seconds and then I proceeded to get on with my life. I certainly didn’t feel the need to organise a party or buy a novelty record. Neither did anyone else as people just moved on and got on with their lives.
So when did it become socially acceptable to celebrate someone’s death? Looking at the evidence it would actually appear that thankfully humanity hasn’t descended so low that it is socially acceptable. The Facebook group promoting the song may feel that they are speaking for the nation but thankfully the truth is quite quite different. The Facebook group at the time of writing this blog post has approximately 11,000 members and the song is currently on course to reach the top 3 but not number one at the time of writing this post. 11,000 may seem a lot but when compared to the UK population of just under 63 million and the world population of just under 7 billion all of a sudden 11,000 doesn’t seem like that many. There are 16 times as many Jedi Knights in the country as there are people who think that this kind of thing is acceptable. And it’s not like this is the first time someone has campaigned to get a song to number one. The Rage Against the Machine campaign group had over 600,000 members and generated about half a million sales of the track. So why does this new campaign have so few members? Thankfully it would seem that only a minority of the Great British Public feel it is socially acceptable to celebrate someone’s death. The majority who have chosen to shun the campaign can see it for what it is. A sick, twisted, depraved campaign aimed at publicly dancing over someone’s grave.
So when did it become socially acceptable to celebrate someone’s death. Thankfully it hasn’t! Which is just as well for the future of the human race!