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Speaking Ill of the Dead

This morning’s unexpected death of Andrew Breitbart, the conservative muckraker, has sadly if unsurprisingly brought out a wave of nasty commentary.

Matt Yglesias has sparked outrage with his tweet that “Conventions around dead people are ridiculous. The world outlook is slightly improved with @AndrewBrietbart dead.” A bit later, in response to a wave of angry responses, he observed, “If you think @AndrewBrietbart’s opponents shouldn’t be glad he’s dead, you’re not taking his life’s work seriously.”

Because Yglesias has a big megaphone, his comments are getting a lot of attention. His were by no means the most mean-spirited reactions. Indeed, there are many more egregious examples in the comments section of OTB’s Breitbart obituary post.

Despite my politics being much closer to Breitbart’s than Yglesias’, I was no fan of the former’s work. At the very least, he was less concerned with the truth than a good story–with “good” defined as damaging to Democrats and their cause. I can’t bring myself to shed a tear at the loss of more ginned up controversies. But, surely, we can mourn the sudden loss of a 43-year-old husband and father.

Many have defended their mean-spirited comments about Breitbart’s passing by noting that Breitbart himself was less than charitable on the passing of Teddy Kennedy. But that’s a petty excuse, indeed. Why would one simultaneously loathe an individual’s actions and adopt exactly those very same actions?

Breitbart, like Kennedy, was a public figure who actively sought the limelight. Dying doesn’t immunize them from criticism. But there’s a fine line between an honest reflection on the recently departed’s legacy and dancing on their grave. It’s one thing to condemn the way someone lived their life; it’s quite another to rejoice at their death. I tend to save the latter for the truly evil, not the merely annoying.

I was by no means a fan of Teddy Kennedy. But I nonetheless thought his diagnosis with a malignant brain tumor cause for sorrow and the mocking of same by conservative commentators like Michael Savage despicable. When Kennedy died more than a year later, I both remarked on the downplaying of the Chappaquiddick scandal in the newspaper obits and acknowledged that “Kennedy was obviously much more than his actions on the worst night of his life. While he could be incredibly partisan, even vitriolically so on some issues, he was almost universally acknowledged even by opponents as an honorable negotiating partner and an outstanding legislator.”

While I didn’t like Breitbart’s brand of journalism, most who knew him talk about his “happy-warrior spirit” and what a good friend, husband, and father he was off stage. This extends to even hard-fought adversaries like Arianna Huffington and the Media Matters team.

The woman who loved him is suddenly and unexpectedly without a husband and four little kids are without a father. That’s more important than Outrage of the Day politics.

UPDATE: A couple of commenters point to a characteristically excellent reflection on this matter by David Frum. It concludes:

In time, Andrew Breitbart might have aged into greater self-control and a higher concept of public service. Premature death deprived him of the chance at redemption often sought and sometimes found by people who have done wrong in their lives and work.And this is where it becomes difficult to honor the Roman injunction to speak no ill of the dead. It’s difficult for me to assess Breitbart’s impact upon American media and American politics as anything other than poisonous. When one of the leading media figures of the day achieves his success by his giddy disdain for truth and fairness—when one of our leading political figures offers to his admirers a politics inflamed by rage and devoid of ideas—how to withhold a profoundly negative judgment on his life and career?

Especially when that career was so representative of his times?

We live in a time of political and media demagoguery unparalleled since the 19th century. Many of our most important public figures have gained their influence and power by inciting and exploiting the ugliest of passions—by manipulating fears and prejudices—by serving up falsehoods as reported truth. In time these figures will one by one die. What are we to say of this cohort, this group, this generation? That their mothers loved them? That their families are bereaved? That their fans admired them and their employees treated generously by them? Public figures are inescapably judged by their public actions. When those public actions are poisonous, the obituary cannot be pleasant reading.

I don’t disagree with a word of that. While he would surely have disagreed with the particulars, one presumes Breitbart himself would have agreed with the general sentiments. But note that Frum does here exactly what I say in my original posting is fair game: “an honest reflection on the recently departed’s legacy” and stops well short of “dancing on [his] grave.”

I fully agree that Breitbart’s impact on the public discourse, both at The Drudge Report and later at his own mini-empire, was “poisonous.” I just stop short of thinking the man was evil or that his death is a cause for celebration.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Jim says:

    *loved him (not lived)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Hey Norm says:

    The man intentionally and maliciously damaged others by telling lies.
    Respect that you say?
    The world is a better place today.
    End of story.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 18

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    I don’t have anything nice to say about him so I’ll keep quiet. It should be noted however that he tweeted this on the day Ted Kennedy died so perhaps he’s getting what he deserved.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 9

  4. I’m sorry James, but Andrew Brietbart destroyed careers. He irreparably damaged lives. He contributed to the destruction of ACORN. All because of his lies and deceptions. I feel for his children, because I believe they are innocent and I believe that some of them are too young to understand what is happening around them, but just being a happy guy in person does not erase the massive damage he caused through nothing more than pure lies.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 43 Thumb down 11

  5. Brummagem Joe says:

    That’s more important than Outrage of the Day politics.

    Well there’s the rub when you have a public and a private life. Reverse W. C. Fields dictum that a man who hates children and dogs can’t be all bad. It’s an extenuation that’s been used before and I’m sure will be again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  6. Herb says:

    Frum’s take:

    Many of our most important public figures have gained their influence and power by inciting and exploiting the ugliest of passions—by manipulating fears and prejudices—by serving up falsehoods as reported truth. In time these figures will one by one die. What are we to say of this cohort, this group, this generation? That their mothers loved them? That their families are bereaved? That their fans admired them and their employees treated generously by them? Public figures are inescapably judged by their public actions. When those public actions are poisonous, the obituary cannot be pleasant reading.

    Yes, what are we to say of this cohort?

    Whatever it is, it can be said it without calling the world “a better place” because Breitbart is dead. It’s not. Not really. Our politics may (slightly) improve without Breitbart’s contribution, but the world has actually gotten darker for a lot of people now that he’s passed. That’s not insignificant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 8

  7. Rob in CT says:

    For myself, a small clarification:

    I don’t have a problem with Breitbart’s tweets about Ted Kennedy. Breitbart apparently thought Kennedy was a moral monster. He said so. I don’t object to this.

    Well, lots of folks think Breitbart was a terrible person, and are saying so.

    We all draw lines somewhere, but my line does not require that we pretend so and so wasn’t a huge ahole just ’cause they died. I mean, you do that if you’re standing in front of his wife & kids, sure. But commenting on a blog? Say what you think.

    I feel for the guy’s kids, I really do.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 4

  8. Hey Norm says:

    @ Herb…
    And the world was actually darker for a lot of people because he lived. In passing he reaps what he sowed. I feel for his children. What of the chldren who have harder lives because of his actions?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 4

  9. Liberty60 says:

    Actually, I am of the opinion that Breitbart would have reveled in the bitterness and nastiness surrounding his death.

    He seemed happiest in the muddy, bloody trenches of politics. In his world, no one was innocent, there were no harmless bystanders. Shirley Sherrod, the staffers of ACORN, the black farmers; they were all fair game for invective and personal attack.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  10. mattb says:

    There’s no question he was innovative and provocative — all of the pixels being spilled about him truly represent his life’s work in all its facets.

    This is old testament stuff: when one sows the wind they inherit the whirlwind. That so much of it is hateful — as recently with Htichens — is the result of the way he lived his life.

    Supposedly, Rush Limbaugh once remarked that the easiest (or perhaps it was fastest) way to become rich was to make half the people love you and the other half of the people hate you. Breitbart seems to have had a similar view.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  11. JohnMcC says:

    @Herb: Mr Herb I was just about to link to the DailyBeast obit by the always judicious & thoughtful David Frum. Thank you. I was going to add that all the well-deserved scorn for vile condemnation and degradation by some who hated Mr Breitbart is matched by the conspiracy theories blaming the President for Mr Breitbart’s death.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  12. Fiona says:

    Actually, I am of the opinion that Breitbart would have reveled in the bitterness and nastiness surrounding his death.

    I agree. He enjoyed ginning up controversy even (and especially) where it wasn’t warranted. However, in speaking of his death, I see no need to echo the nastiness that so often characterized his work. In the words of the great Warren Zevon, “life will kill you, no matter who you are.” It’s sad for Breitbart’s family and friends that he was taken so soon. Unfortunately for the world of political commentary, there are far too many Breitbarts left–people who make millions feeding off rage and resentment while contributing nothing to the solution of this country’s problems.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  13. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Herb:

    Public figures are inescapably judged by their public actions. When those public actions are poisonous, the obituary cannot be pleasant reading.

    I think Frum puts his finger on the heart of the matter in drawing a distinction between the public and private as JJ does not. Absolution cannot be granted on the basis of a fondness for children and dogs. Personally I think the temptation to dance on this fellow’s grave should be resisted but he angered a lot of people so as Frum points out his obsequies are not going to be pleasant reading.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  14. MBunge says:

    “But, surely, we can mourn the sudden loss of a 43-year-old husband and father.”

    43 year old husbands and fathers die all the time and no one even notices enough to comment. It used to be that if you became enough of a public figure for people to notice you, you were expected to adhere to higher standards of behavior and decorum than the unknown masses. Breitbart is a great example of how that cultural standard has broken down. Being a public figure today doesn’t mean you have to be better than most. It often means you’re allowed to be worse.

    Mike

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 4

  15. Franklin says:

    Look, I’m not going to sit on the edge of my mother’s deathbed and tell her that her gluten-free cake was tasteless, just for the sake of telling the truth. Likewise, I don’t see what anybody gains by insulting Breitbart now; if you had an opinion of him, it shouldn’t change now just because somebody calls him names or says the world is better with or without him.

    What was more sickening is all the positive thoughts on Al Davis when he died. It was sickening because it was all bulls**t. Everybody always hated him and suddenly they’re pretending they didn’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  16. Herb says:

    @Hey Norm:

    “And the world was actually darker for a lot of people because he lived. “

    If you were really honest with yourself, I think you’d admit that it was his work that offended you, not his existence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  17. Here’s the ultimate test: what happens when Rush dies?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Jenos Idanian says:

    Just what “lies” did Breitbart spread, anyway? I know a lot of lies he exposed, but not so many he started.

    Of course, to the left, “liar” is what they call “someone who exposes their lies.” For example, the fictional “protesters called Black Congress Members ‘the N-word’ as they went to vote on ObamaCare” incident.” Or “ACORN doesn’t engage in voter fraud.” Or “Planned Parenthood doesn’t offer illegal abortions to underage minors.”

    And then there’s his expose’ of the politicization of the Civil Rights Division of the Obama Justice Department. Breitbart made a lot of liberals’ lives and lies difficult, so no wonder they rejoice in his passing.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 39

  19. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Just what “lies” did Breitbart spread, anyway?

    Shirley Sherrod. And the fact you’re even asking this question shows you’re less interested in an answer than starting a fight.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 5

  20. junyo says:

    On the spectrum of “# lives destroyed by equates linearly to the amount of evil” I think Breitbart is a pretty minor evil in the grand scheme, and thus the dancing on his grave just makes the dancers look ridiculous. This is the definition of a first world problem; Breitbart, even if you accept every negative thing said about him as true, unfairly cost some people their job or caused unwarranted public embarrassment. Yet is being compared to Hitler. Ask a Pakistani farmer if Andrew Breitbart was more/less evil than Barack Obama.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 10

  21. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @junyo:
    Please tell us who is comparing Breitbart to Hitler.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  22. Peacewood says:

    Had Breitbart given freely to help the needy through charity, used his wealth to help others, or made worthy sacrifices on his part, I would refrain from saying anything, on balance, at his death.

    His life work made plain with no exceptions: the man was a deceitful flametard and the world would be better off without his example.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  23. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy: Breitbart didn’t lie about Sherrod. He denied that he had edited the video, and no one ever proved he did the editing. Sherrod was fired because gutless bureaucrats jumped because they knew Breitbart didn’t bluff. She was offered her job back, but refused it to take on the role of “professional Breitbart victim.”

    The fact that you swallow whole the “Breitbart lied about Sherrod” fantasy shows you didn’t look at the actual facts. I was curious who would be the first to jump.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 33

  24. Brummagem Joe says:

    @junyo:

    Ask a Pakistani farmer if Andrew Breitbart was more/less evil than Barack Obama.

    A neat attempt at evasion that ignores context.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  25. Yeah, I’m really upset that someone who spent his life lying, race-baiting, and trying to destroy people is dead.

    In other news, I’m sure that conservatives will show proper respect when Mary Mapes or Dan Rather pass away.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 9

  26. gVOR08 says:

    I’m sorry we’re not all living up to your high standards James, but most of what I’ve seen has been pretty mild. Some unnecessary invective, but mostly just comments on the obvious fact that Breitbart’s career involved a significant net loss to the stock of civility and truth in the world. I have my own rule – No one should get in trouble for telling the truth.

    And before you go off on ‘both sides do it’ compare what you’ve seen here today to what FOX had to take down after Whitney Houston’s death.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 3

  27. Hey Norm says:

    @ Herb…
    How do you seperate his work from his existence?
    He intentionally harmed people with lies. Period. End of story.
    I do feel bad for his children…but they will be well provided for with the gains he made at the expense of others. What of the dis-advantaged children that Acorn helped to get a leg up? What about the economically distressed farmers that Sherrod can no longer help?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 7

  28. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Jenos Idanian: That’s weaksauce, Jenos. The whole tape exonerates her; that Breitbart deliberately put forth a misleading version is proof enough.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 6

  29. sashal says:

    Let me start by saying that I’m truly sorry for the family he leaves behind. Now onward: I suppose there are intelligent and formidable foes who one can admire and respect, even while disagreeing with them, but Breitbart was basically an asshole, dishonest and not even particularly intelligent. I’ll miss him less than I’ll miss Christopher Hitchens, and that’s saying something. I’m sure he’ll be replaced by an even bigger asshole, so I won’t say anthing about the world being a better place without him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  30. G.A. says:

    Shirley Sherrod. And the fact you’re even asking this question shows you’re less interested in an answer than starting a fight.

    what did he lie about, she spoke racism and how she liked to use it with her own mouth…WTP?

    Here’s the ultimate test: what happens when Rush dies?

    I see the the libs talking to the streets babbling victory cackles and handing out candy like the Muslims did on 9/11…

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 30

  31. Hey Norm says:

    @ Jenos…

    “He denied that he had edited the video”

    Well that settles it. The video probably edited itself.
    Just a couple weeks ago a judge laughed Breitbart’s motion to dismiss out of court.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 2

  32. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Hey Norm:
    I forgot about that lawsuit – what becomes of it now?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  33. junyo says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy:
    Quite a few people:
    http://campaign2012.washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/liberals-celebrate-death-andrew-breitbart/403471

    @Brummagem Joe:
    The context is, one guys killed a lot of innocent people. An acknowledged, objective fact. And is widely considered to be a heck of a guy. The other guy called some people some stuff that didn’t like, maybe played loose with the truth at times, people are dancing on his grave and calling the world a better place because he’s dead. Now please explain the context in which causing the deaths of innocent people is less evil than saying words.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

  34. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy: Breitbart asked the NAACP for the full video before he released the part he had. They refused him.

    Kinda puts a hurting on your EEEEVIL Breitbart story, doesn’t it?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 27

  35. Jenos Idanian says:

    Nice community you have here, James. Such a stalwart band of classy individuals.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 28

  36. Hey Norm says:

    @ Goldstar…
    I do not know.
    I do hope it does not hurt his widow or their children.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  37. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @junyo: So, a bunch of randoms.

    “It’s so prevalent, I have a list of people you’ve never heard of!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  38. Brummagem Joe says:

    @junyo:

    The context is, one guys killed a lot of innocent people. An acknowledged, objective fact.

    It’s what is known as a false analogy. One concerns the accidental consequences of a national counter insurgency campaign being conducted by a state of which Obama happens to be the head while the other concerns character assassinations, dirty tricks etc that are entirely the responsibility of the individual concerned.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  39. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Jenos Idanian: It shows me the NAACP wanted nothing to do with Breitbart, and I can’t blame them in the slightest.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 4

  40. Hey Norm says:

    “…Breitbart asked the NAACP for the full video before he released the part he had…”

    Assuming that is true…though you produce no evidence that it is…how does that exonerate the man? The NAACP refused to give me a tape so I am free to slander Shirley Sherrod? You are a fool.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 3

  41. WR says:

    @G.A.: Isn’t that a sweet tribute? Breitbart is dead, but his filth lives on in those who loved him.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 4

  42. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Nice community you have here, James. Such a stalwart band of classy individuals.

    Oh, that’s rich, Jenos. You come in here throwing bombs, and then attack James because of the explosions?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  43. Herb says:

    @Hey Norm:

    “What of the dis-advantaged children that Acorn helped to get a leg up? What about the economically distressed farmers that Sherrod can no longer help? “

    Breitbart’s death does not improve their lives in any meaningful way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  44. mattb says:

    @junyo:

    The context is, one guys killed a lot of innocent people. An acknowledged, objective fact. And is widely considered to be a heck of a guy.

    If you are seriously going down that particular path, what are we to say about GWB who as an “acknowledged, objective fact” is, according to your logic, is responsible for not only the deaths of an exponentially larger amount of foreign civilians, but some 4000+ American deaths in Iraq (we won’t count Afghanistan), not to mention untold numbers of wounded Americans. He was also widely considered to be a great guy to have a beer with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  45. Hey Norm says:

    @ Herb…
    No. His life hurt them. His death will prevent the same happening to others at his hands.
    People who intentionally hurt others, with lies and deceit, deserve no respect in life, or in death.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  46. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Herb: Perhaps, but Breitbart’s work undertaken in his abbreviated life badly hurt those same people.

    And now, Breitbart can no longer hurt others in the same manner.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  47. Doubter4444 says:

    @MBunge:
    Well said

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  48. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    I found a law blog’s* take on what happens to Sherrod’s lawsuit:

    Big Journalism editor and in-house counsel Joel Pollack said in a phone interview this morning that Breitbart’s death will not affect the defense against a defamation lawsuit brought against Breitbart and a colleague by former U.S. Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod.

    “We would argue that the primary motivation of the suit was to shut Mr. Breitbart’s site down or ‘get back at him,’ in Ms. Sherrod’s words. Perhaps they might change their strategy, I don’t know. Certainly we’re defending as before,” Pollack said.

    Here’s the part I found interesting:

    The case is on hold as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit weighs the defendants’ appeal of an order denying their motions to dismiss the case. Breitbart and O’Connor filed a special motion to dismiss under the city’s relatively new law barring strategic lawsuits against public participation, known as SLAPPs. The case represents one of the early tests of the anti-SLAPP law’s applicability in federal court.

    To my knowledge, SLAPP is applicable when a corporation or government tries to stop an annoyance by suing the life out of them, not when an individual is taking on other individuals. But posing as a victim comes natural to these people…

    * – No, the blogger is not Bob Loblaw.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  49. PJ says:

    @MBunge:

    It used to be that if you became enough of a public figure for people to notice you, you were expected to adhere to higher standards of behavior and decorum than the unknown masses.

    Compare how public figures on the left is reacting to for instance Breitbart dying with how public figures on the right reacted to Kennedy dying.

    Which is why the link junyo posted contains one comment by Matt Yglesias that hardly could be described as celebrating and comments by nobodies.

    This is not a case of one side being the mirror of the other.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  50. @G.A.:

    And the posterboy for why the Brietbarts of the world are such a problem shows up to repeat a few of the departed’s greatest hits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  51. @Ron Beasley:

    Wow, just wow.

    Breitbart never really got under my skin, and I certainly wouldn’t start lambasting him on his death-day … but neither could I really spill ink to defend the guy who wrote that, on another death-day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  52. Dan Collins says:

    If the truth were poisonous, I’d agree.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  53. Dan Collins says:

    Please. Breitbart was far more charitable than his many critics, and David Frum’s hysterical attempt to cast Breitbart as a generational pathology reflects more on Frum than it does on Breitbart. It is ridiculous to invoke charity in this context.

    He gave more of himself because he had more to give. Any misrecognition of that must involve animus, envy or both. He was far more tolerant of others’ foibles than you have been here.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 28

  54. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Dan Collins: Are you for reals?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  55. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Dan Collins:

    Please. Breitbart was far more charitable than his many critics, and David Frum’s hysterical attempt to cast Breitbart as a generational pathology reflects more on Frum than it does on Breitbart.

    So why would a fellow conservative hysterically cast Breitbart as a generational pathology?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  56. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:
  57. Brummagem Joe says:

    Breitbart’s Death: The Conspiracy Insta-Theories
    —————————————————————————-

    “Breitbart dead at 43? My suspect list includes George Soros and Obama””

    “Andrew Breitbart was going to expose Barry’s colledge “issues” and now he’s dead.”

    “The LEFT taking out our Conservative Generals now?????? Putin in Russia does this to oppostion journalists….look it up”

    “Does anyone else think this was foul play? Did obama send his chicago goons to murder breitbart?”

    “Andrew Breitbart threatens Obama at CPAC with a video, then suddenly dies? This MUST be investigated as an assassination Obama – WTF?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  58. BTW, now that I know what Breitbart said on Kennedy’s death-day, this sentence stinks:

    Breitbart, like Kennedy, was a public figure who actively sought the limelight. Dying doesn’t immunize them from criticism.

    “Both sides do it” indeed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  59. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: The sentence is independent of what Breitbart said of Kennedy. (To which I responded, “But that’s a petty excuse, indeed. Why would one simultaneously loathe an individual’s actions and adopt exactly those very same actions?”)

    I’m saying it’s perfectly valid for critics to remain critics upon their death but that cheering the death of someone who was merely a political foe, even one who was something of a jerk, is beyond the pale.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  60. MBunge says:

    @James Joyner: “even one who was something of a jerk”\

    Yeah, here’s the thing. The Shirley Sherrod business was not Breitbart being “something of a jerk”. Heck, even the Anthony Weiner business was not Breitbart being “something of a jerk”. It was Breitbart seeking to DESTROY other human beings, in one case with fraud and in the other with private behavior that violated no law.

    Yes, cheering the death of another is wrong, but diminishing Breitbart’s sins to just “being something of a jerk” is exactly the sort of thing that drives people to such reprehensible reactions.

    Mike

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 3

  61. @James Joyner:

    Yes, I understand that you want to make that paragraph independent of what Breitbart said of Kennedy.

    Instead, I think you should have put the tweet right out there, and acknowledged it. People can then see Breitbart for what he was, and decide for themselves if they want to sink to that level.

    You could have even themed it “Don’t be a Breitbart.” Rather than to put Breitbart and Kennedy together in a fuzzy equivalence, as you did.

    You’ll note of course that I’m not pulling a Breitbart here myself. I’m just saying that the guy does not need to be defended as “merely annoying.” Not after that tweet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  62. (Better yet, you could really have reported the death and let the “evil or annoying” thing play out for itself.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  63. (I’m pretty sure Kennedy was, whatever his flaws, never a Breitbart.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  64. Septimius says:

    Remember when liberals said it was wrong when the audience at the Republican debate applauded that a lot of convicted murderers are executed in Texas?

    Remember when liberals said it was wrong to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden, the guy who orchestrated the worst terrorist attack in history?

    Remember when liberals said it was ok to celebrate the death of a conservative blogger because he was “poisonous” and he “lied?”

    R.I.P. Andrew. Even in death, you’re exposing liberals for what they really are.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 21

  65. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Septimius:

    Remember when liberals said it was wrong to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden, the guy who orchestrated the worst terrorist attack in history?

    PROOF. NOW.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  66. Gustopher says:

    This morning’s unexpected death of Andrew Breitbart, the conservative muckraker, has sadly if unsurprisingly brought out a wave of nasty commentary.

    Given that his life was dedicated to bringing out a wave of nasty commentary, I think it is fitting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  67. G.A. says:

    @G.A.: Isn’t that a sweet tribute? Breitbart is dead, but his filth lives on in those who loved him.

    DID YOU HEAR WAHT SHE ADMITED YOU ******* IDIOT?

    And the poster boy for why the Breitbart’s of the world are such a problem shows up to repeat a few of the departed’s greatest hits.

    LOL! I ACT LIKE A ANTI LIBERAL WHILE USEING MY OLD LIBERAL EMOTION AND TOUNGE TOO PI$$ OFF THE SCUMBUCCKETS ON THIS SITE AND A FEW OTHERS BECAUSE IT HELPS MY SELF PRESCIBED THERPY. lol… Its my fault that many people hated this dudes guts and are overjoyed and are celebrating his death like the subhumans that they are?

    I was all like civility and understanding and consideration for more then a min around here and what did I get for my efforts, a couple of nods and piles of scorn, animosity, personal attacks about what I shared about myself and my faults in an effort to give understanding about my stances and my understandings … derr…that’s why I mostly stay away when i can help it.

    Nice community you have here, James. Such a stalwart band of classy individuals.

    lol….hehe, well, I apologize for acting like a dumb ******* ******* a lot of the time. We must forgive the rest because they was born that way and can’t help themselves or be held personally responsible because of it.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 21

  68. I think the best commentators above stood aloof.

    I can also observe “as you sew, so shall you reap.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  69. James Joyner says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy: Actually, there were all manner of respectable commentators–and not just on the left–arguing that cheering a man’s death was unseemly, unchristian, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  70. mattatat says:

    @Jenos Idanian: What voter fraud? There wasn’t a shred of evidence of voter fraud. There was on the other hand some voter Registration issues that were exposed. The funny part is it was Acorn itself that reported the voter registration irregularities as required by law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  71. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @James Joyner:

    arguing that cheering a man’s death was unseemly, unchristian, etc.

    And, I hope they acknowledged, understandable.

    I interpreted many of these comments from the right as bitterness that The Other Guy got OBL. I can’t recall which former GWB aide said it, but I howled when I read his snippy complaining about Obama’s “victory lap.” I mean, a sober press conference on a Sunday night… Is there anything more show-offy than that? Have some humility – at least hang a banner on an aircraft carrier.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  72. Septimius says:
  73. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Good for you, Septimus! I stand corrected.

    Now what are you going to do about James’ assertion “there were all manner of respectable commentators–and not just on the left–arguing that cheering a man’s death was unseemly, unchristian, etc.” (Ital mine.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  74. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    You know, I’m going to leave this conversation; may even leave OTB for a day or two. Breitbart would’ve wanted all this fighting, and I’m not going to be part of that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  75. OzarkHillbilly says:

    But, surely, we can mourn the sudden loss of a 43-year-old husband and father.

    Tomorrow, the gloves come off. Remember, she knew who she was married to.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  76. PogueMahone says:

    Frum:

    Premature death deprived him of the chance at redemption often sought and sometimes found by people who have done wrong in their lives and work.

    I call bullsh!t. What villain who died young could one not say this about?

    Here’s a better one for you: Premature death could deprive you of a chance at redemption for all that you have done wrong in your life and works. Therefore, ’tis best you strive to do no wrong in your life and work.

    Cheers. And RIP to all the asshats that ever lived.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  77. Ben Wolf says:

    I’ll just repeat what I wrote in the other thread: I can’t think of a greater condemnation than to say the man was talented and innovative, and used his gifts to harm others rather than work for the betterment of his society.

    Dead men can’t learn from their mistakes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  78. Hey Norm says:

    @ James…
    “…cheering the death of someone who was merely a political foe, even one who was something of a jerk, is beyond the pale…”
    He was not merely a political foe or a jerk. He intentionally hurt people with lies and deceit. THAT is what is beyond the pale…not calling a spade a spade.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  79. Lit3Bolt says:

    This is where politics and media becomes too meta for me. Bear with me, because this post is meant to be self-deprecating as well, as I lurch towards insights of how I feel about the death of a man who I considered a monstrous asshole (and much older than just 43, holy crap).

    SO! We’re supposed to mourn someone who made it a point of grave-pissing in his career. Sorry, I can’t. Besides, didn’t we already go through this with the death of noted alcoholic Christopher Hitchens? You know, those meandering, not-quite-nice, not-quite-mean, reflections of death and a person and what their life meant and how it had an impact on society?

    Wait Muriel. I feel…a SONG coming on…

    What pisses me off quite gravely about this non-traversy of “grave pissing” is the equally repulsive behavior by conservatives who are beating their breasts, writing hagiographies of a culture war charlatan, and going through their own mock dumb-show of grief for someone who was appropriately and generously styled as a clown in Life.

    Liberals like Yglesias, who’s apparently taking a break from being concerned about poor people he never sees, promptly display their own ability to feel an unholy thrill when one’s enemies die and are roundly condemned for inappropriate grave-pissing by the same conservative scolds who just recently directed a dribbling, intermittent stream of steaming urea upon the grave of Whitney Houston.

    Oh, how awkward, I just scored (mostly reflexive) Culture War point against conservatives! This is the point where it’s apparent that all of this is kabuki theater and Breitbart’s death, just like his life, has become just another springboard into Culture War Point Scoring between liberals and conservatives on-line, each delighted with their chance to take one for the team, pick and roll, and hope for a elusive 3 point quip.

    You know what all of us, liberal and conservative and anything, could do to note Andrew Breitbart’s passing? Do it by stepping away from the keyboard, and look away from the beautiful, shiny rectangle. Go find a real human being, preferably one that knows you, and hug them. Because apparently the last God-damn thing Andrew Breitbart was doing on this Earth before his Master Beelzebub summoned him for new orders was sending Tweets out in the ether, trying to fight the War.

    All of this electronic ether babble is meaningless, and words without humanity are merely crude spear tips flung into the sky, hoping to hit the ghosts whom we Hate oh so very, very much. We’ve never met these ghosts, and have never actually seen them, but our Elders say they influence our lives, and the only way to have influence too is to fling a spear up very far, very fast, and hope you wound that dead ghost. When a spear point wounds a ghost in the air, the Elders take note and shower praise on that thrower. “He is a good spear-thrower, and will wound many dead ghosts he can never meet and never see in his day.”

    So pour one out for Andrew Breitbart, one of the finest spear-throwers in his day. Let his life caution us against taking spear-chucking at ghosts too seriously.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  80. Jenos Idanian says:

    @MBunge: Yeah, here’s the thing. The Shirley Sherrod business was not Breitbart being “something of a jerk”. Heck, even the Anthony Weiner business was not Breitbart being “something of a jerk”. It was Breitbart seeking to DESTROY other human beings, in one case with fraud and in the other with private behavior that violated no law.

    I’m still trying to find out what real damages Sherrod suffered. She was fired, then immediately the Secretary personally reached out to her and offered her her job back. She refused to take it back. And nearly everyone who heard of her thought of her as a victim (until they heard about her involvement in Pigford). In a court case, you have to show real, financial damages. She didn’t have any.

    In Weiner’s case, he made his “private” behavior public. And then he lied and covered up his deeds. He had almost the entire left calling him a liar and a fraud and saying he’d faked the infamous photo. And when Weiner finally admitted that yeah, it was him, I don’t recall anyone apologizing to Breitbart and saying “yeah, you were telling the truth all along, and we were wrong to call you a liar.”

    Breitbart’s biggest offense to the left was that he was effective. He took on the sacred cows of the left — and won. He got results.

    This was a good day for the professional crazy left. And a sad day for the nation. A man who never used any harsher weapons than words has passed on at a tragically young age (younger than me!), leaving behind a wife and children and many, many battles left to fight. And as one last service, he’s given his enemies yet one last chance to show their ugliness: rejoicing in his death.

    I’m watching right now a clip when he showed up at Weiner’s press conference. If you don’t remember, he just went on a lark. Then, when Weiner was late, someone started asking Breitbart questions so he took to the podium and held his own impromptu press conference to claim his vindication.

    Thank you, Andrew Breitbart. We are so much poorer with your passing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 14

  81. mantis says:

    Would have been happy had he retired.
    Not happy that he’s dead.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  82. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: One who imagines himself poorer at Breitbart’s passing starts at such a point of moral poverty there’s really nothing left to lose.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  83. Jenos Idanian says:

    @WR: You sad, pathetic wretch. You’re not even worthy of contempt, just pity. And living proof of what Breitbart fought against — and won, time and time again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 11

  84. de stijl says:

    I’m trying to figure out why my opinion about Breitbart’s morals, ethics, and behavior is supposed to change because he died: yesterday I would have easily shared my opinion of his vileness and yet today it is considered by some to be inappropriate to state the same.

    The fact that he was 43 or that he had a family doesn’t change my opinion of how he chose to comport himself in the public arena.

    These seem like new and very squishy social rules to me – You can’t criticize a cultural warrior, nor his tactics, for n days after his death. But only if he’s my cultural warrior; your cultural warrior is fair game. Do these new rules also stigmatize those who claim that he was assassinated by Obama’s goons?

    Silly me, they’re not social rules, they’re sociopolitical rules where anything and everything is a cudgel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  85. Peterh says:

    I’m tempted….oops, moving beyond tempted…..to say he sold his soul along time ago….well, not a long time, cuz, well….you know….and a billet came open and the fire-guy collected……not that I believe any of that stuff, yet they do…..and it makes for a good story…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  86. @Brummagem Joe: Perhaps because David Frum isn’t a conservative?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  87. Ron Beasley says:

    I’m sorry but Breitbart wasn’t a sleazball because of what he said and did – like Limbaugh he dd it to feed his ego and pocket book. He ruined people and organizations to make money and fame. Will the world be a better place without? Not much! But let’s be honest here – he may have been a great husband and father but he was not a good person.
    ;t

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  88. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Gosh, Jenos, it really hurts to be whined at by a moral cripple.

    By the way, if you’re such a brave, decent, wonderful human being, why is it you keep showing up under different names pretending you’ve never been here before? Could it be because you leave such a toxic trail that you have to slither out of your skin every couple of months? Are you so ashamed of what you’ve said even half a year ago you can’t admit to being the same person?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  89. An Interested Party says:

    And living proof of what Breitbart fought against — and won, time and time again.

    Oh my, let the hagiography begin…

    I am not celebrating the death of Andrew Breitbart. I do object to his elevation in death, however. If you read the Huffington Post today, everyone from Arianna herself to the staff at Media Matters is expressing sadness at his passing. By this time tomorrow, his martyrdom will be incorporated into the right-wing canon and everyone will forget he was a serial fabricator.

    Sure, his family deserves to mourn without answering for his actions in life, but media eulogies will likely gloss over his libelous treatment of Shirley Sherrod or his selective editing of ACORN videos. In a strange cultural inversion of Shakespeare’s take on Julius Caesar, American media tends to minimize the crimes of the recently-living and tell only the good about the dead. This will encourage the martyr cult among his fans, for whom Breitbart will become a greater hero in death than life.

    Years from now, right wing pseudo-journalists will claim his mantle and tradition — but they won’t have his bizarre rape accusations against Occupy in mind when they do it. Most of what he did at Big Government and the rest of his websites was the political equivalent of the Weekly World News, with Occupy rape as a kind of disgusting Batboy fabrication that enjoys unquestioning belief from his fans, and always will. Belief in the bullshit will become a necessary part of his cult of remembrance. And expect more of the same committed in his name: call it Zombie Breitbart, still making up crap from the grave.

    Meanwhile…

    Could it be because you leave such a toxic trail that you have to slither out of your skin every couple of months?

    It is little wonder that Jenos Idanian admires Breitbart so much…birds of a feather and all that…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  90. Anonne says:

    I celebrate the end of the bile spewing directly from Breitbart. I do not celebrate his death. What I felt was mostly a sense of relief, and condolences for his family.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  91. Jenos Idanian says:

    @de stijl: These seem like new and very squishy social rules to me – You can’t criticize a cultural warrior, nor his tactics, for n days after his death. But only if he’s my cultural warrior; your cultural warrior is fair game. Do these new rules also stigmatize those who claim that he was assassinated by Obama’s goons?

    There’s criticizing, and there’s demonizing and rejoicing in his death. What is going on in this thread is not criticizing.

    I didn’t hear about his death until mid-afternoon, so I missed the initial reaction. However, I do know that his earlier heart trouble did not get much attention, so his suddenly dying at such a relatively young age is shocking. In such cases, it’s entirely natural for the first reaction to be denial and rampant speculation. And if anyone lived a life that provoked total, unreasoning hatred from the violent elements of the left (like the Occupy crowd, the union thugs, and the like), it was Breitbart.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  92. de stijl says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    And if anyone lived a life that provoked total, unreasoning hatred from the violent elements of the left (like the Occupy crowd, the union thugs, and the like), it was Breitbart.

    He lived a life that provoked? Your use of the passive voice is an insult to the truth of what Breitbart did. Mistakes were made, as they say.

    Also, do you know nothing of the history of American unionism where there was actual – blood on the soil – violence? And that not all of the blood was drawn by those who you wish to think of as the villains?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  93. rodney dill says:

    What I’ll take away for the above thread is that speaking ill of the dead says far more about the character of the speaker, than the one departed,.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  94. Jenos Idanian says:

    @de stijl: I know quite well the history of unionism. More importantly, I know that it’s ancient history, and today’s unions — the majority of which are public-sector unions — are light-years removed from the unions of the past. They can’t use their past glories to conceal their present sins.

    But let’s look at Breitbart’s recod:

    Breitbart vs. ACORN: ACORN dissolved.

    Breitbart vs. Planned Parenthood: Funding challenged, moral superiority seriously compromised.

    Breitbart vs. Anthony Weiner: the right of married public officials to send pictures of their junk to teenaged girls no longer seen as sacrosanct.

    The Weiner case is especially enlightening. Weiner just had to claim he was “hacked” and “set up,” and the mainstream media just opened wide and swallowed the story whole. Breitbart was tried and convicted of the hacking (in the court of liberal opinion) based purely on Weiner’s say-so. Jon Stewart himself swore up and down that it wasn’t Weiner’s groin, based on his own observations of Weiner in various undressed states. The guy who used to be Charles Johnson demanded the FBI find out who tried to frame Weiner.

    But Breitbart was right, and Weiner eventually admitted that he’d made up the whole “hacked” story, and resigned in disgrace. But Breitbart didn’t collect very many apologies. Hell, I think the blogger formerly known as Charles Johnson is still looking for “the real penis.”

    Breitbart died way, way too young. But, if we’re lucky, his fight will live on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  95. Jenos Idanian says:

    I’d like to ask the Breitbart haters one simple question: who do you think Breitbart should have emulated in his style and manner? What leftist counterpart do you hold up as his moral and ethical superior?

    David Brock?
    Keith Olbermann?
    Jon Stewart?
    Max Blumenthal?
    Ezra Klein?
    Kos?

    Or fill in the blanks yourself.

    “Show me a hero, and I’ll show you a bum…”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  96. Brummagem Joe says:

    If you read the Huffington Post today, everyone from Arianna herself

    It takes one to know one. Huffington is a grade A hustler herself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  97. Davebo says:

    One less mouth on the teat of wingnut welfare it seems.

    It leaves a bit more for Jim and Doug so we have that. May he rest in peace.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  98. James Joyner says:

    @Davebo: What “welfare” exactly are Doug and I supposed to be getting? My check is apparently being misdirected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  99. @Jenos Idanian:

    You don’t have to look so far afield. The OTB hosts all hold themselves to a higher standard than Breitbart showed, dancing on Kennedy’s grave.

    My only, minor, disagreement with James is that he should have been more up-front, and not left people like me to figure out the Kennedy thing myself.

    I’m fine with the message “Don’t dance on graves, not even the graves of grave-dancers.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  100. @James Joyner:

    I have been accused of being in the pay of many different organizations in recent years. I’m kind of getting annoyed at my mailman, because the checks never seem to arrive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  101. de stijl says:

    @rodney dill:

    What I’ll take away for the above thread is that speaking ill of the dead says far more about the character of the speaker, than the one departed,.

    Why do you believe this? Does death provide absolution? If I believe he behaved abominably yesterday why is today different? I’m really having a hard time understanding your point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  102. @de stijl:

    While we’re talking lessons, and possible redemption in longer lives, why not this one:

    Behave well in your youth … it might be the only record you leave.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  103. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:
    @Doug Mataconis:

    What “welfare” exactly are Doug and I supposed to be getting?

    It’s “general” welfare. No wealth is being redistributed. I think it’s just a karma thing ; )

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  104. Jenos Idanian says:

    @john personna: Ted Kennedy, quite literally, killed an innocent woman. And not only did he never really pay a price for it, simply mentioning it became a taboo and an example of “hate.” He later became a moral lion to the left.

    Breitbart? His weapons were words. Obviously he was so, so, so much worse than Ted Kennedy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  105. Jenos Idanian says:

    “Wingnut welfare” seems to be one of those meaningless phrases leftists make up to denigrate their opponents. However, they don’t see the disconnect in adopting “welfare” as a pejorative…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  106. @Jenos Idanian:

    This is not really about Kennedy. It is about the restraint you can or cannot exercise on a death-day.

    If (and James did this a little bit) you make any move toward the argument “sure, Breitbart death-danced, but Kennedy was a bad man” then you are making the argument that dancing on graves is fine, in certain situations.

    You have not taken the high ground, after all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  107. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I’m kind of getting annoyed at my mailman, because the checks never seem to arrive.

    Yeah Doug you’re an innocent abroad. I like your and JJ’s blog, it’s really good but don’t overdo the Candide stuff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  108. de stijl says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    But let’s look at Breitbart’s recod:

    Breitbart vs. ACORN: ACORN dissolved.

    Ends justify the means?

    Between you and rodney dill, y’all are making my moral compass spin like a top.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  109. BTW, Rob in CT made a “good for the goose, good for the gander” argument (above). That was also a symmetrical argument. It said, “if he danced, dance.”

    It is probably a lower bar than “no one dance,” but is well above any argument that “my guy can dance, but not you.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  110. de stijl says:

    @Jenos Idanian:
    @john personna:

    Every honest obituary of Kennedy mentioned Chappaquiddick. If they didn’t they were foolish. Even the lamest of the mainstream media would not fail to reference it. If they ignored it… well, that should set off huge alarms.

    Just as if they failed to mention Breitbart’s behavior.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  111. @de stijl:

    I was obviously not talking about “mentioning Chappaquiddick.”

    Maybe James thought Breitbart’s Kennedy tweet was as well known and only needed an oblique reference? Not outside the beltway, no.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  112. de stijl says:

    @john personna:

    I’m still trying to figure out what the Breitbart Rule is. You’ve provided the best recap of where we’re at:

    It is probably a lower bar than “no one dance,” but is well above any argument that “my guy can dance, but not you.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  113. Bleev K says:

    @Doug Mataconis: After all you said about the post office, it’s fair that your mailman keep your checks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  114. de stijl says:

    @john personna:

    I didn’t mean to imply that. I’m sorry. I was replying to Jenos but including you was me just trying to acknowledge that both you and Jenos were already talking about Kennedy IRT Breitbart. I apologize for the confusion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  115. MBunge says:

    For all the moral, ethical and humane arguments against dancing on Breitbart’s grave, people like Jenos are almost as powerful an incentive to put on your tap shoes. And not for completely petty reasons. The Jenos of the world are caught up in an alternative reality of Manichean ignorance and stupidity which wasn’t created by Breitbart but is getting worse with each succeeding generation of Breitbarts. This generation of Jenos is mostly hopeless, but there’s always another coming up. Allowing Breitbart to be painted as some sort of truth-loving champion of all that is decent, might not be the best thing.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  116. WR says:

    @MBunge: To Jenos, Breitbart was a hero because he destroyed ACORN, which helped poor people to fight against predatory lenders, to get decent housing, to register to vote, to get living wages and to have their children educated. To Jenos Breitbart was a hero because he tried to destroy Planned Parenthood, which provides basic health care services for millions of women. That says all you could ever need to know about Jenos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  117. All mean spirited commentators should read these posts and see the life that they chose did nothing for humanity. It was all for money. They have fed lies to their mindless followers, without any shame. His kids may have a better chance at life without him at least they don`t have to say that guy is my dad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  118. rodney dill says:

    @de stijl: …as I would expect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  119. MBunge says:

    One of the big things here is that people in and around the political world view it all as a game and one of the rules is that how you play the game has nothing to do with who you are as a “real” person.

    But if politics is the NBA, people like Breitbart are the Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks of the late 80s and 90s. Those teams decided they were just going to foul on every play and dare the officials to either foul out their whole team in the 1st quarter or let them get away with it. They got away with it and it led the league into one of its ugliest and least appealing eras.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  120. Rob in CT says:
  121. bandit says:

    Poor lunatic lefty h8rs. someone had a different opinion than they did and exposed their dulicity. He bad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  122. Septimius says:

    @Barb Hartwell:

    His kids may have a better chance at life without him at least they don`t have to say that guy is my dad.

    Congratulations, Barb. You win the award for the most vile comment on this site. Keep up the good work!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  123. Rob in CT says:

    @bandit:

    Sad. The only comments I’ve ever seen from you here are one-line “hater” comments. Nothing of substance. Not once.

    Also, the issue is not that he had a different opinion. It’s about his methods. His ethics, or lack thereof. He was consumed by the “war” between Conservatism and Liberalism. As for duplicity, Breitbart was no stranger to it.

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  124. MBunge says:

    @Septimius: “You win the award for the most vile comment on this site.”

    I love how to have to limit it to “this site” for fear of someone simply quoting Breitbart back at you.

    Mike

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  125. Septimius says:

    @MBunge:

    His kids may have a better chance at life without him at least they don`t have to say that guy is my dad.

    Ok. That is the most vile comment I have seen on any site.

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  126. Moderate Mom says:

    @de stijl:

    But you are under no obligation to share your opinion of him on the internet.

    It never ceases to amaze me how brave and edgy anonymous internet commenters feel. Things one would never, ever have the guts to say to someone’s face or under their own names, are safe to say without fear of blow back. I don’t know if it makes one feel powerful, or gives them some sense of satisfaction, to crap on someone that never had any kind of effect their life personally. You might not have agreed with his politics, you might have found him to be of less than stellar character, but there is not one single person making comments on this thread that Andrew Breitbart personally caused any harm to.

    I might sometimes say something caustic, but I have never, in all of the times I have commented on different blogs, said anything hateful about anyone, whether they were a public figure or another anonymous commenter. It wouldn’t make me feel better, or look better, to do so.

    Above, someone said that it makes no difference what an anonymous commenter says on the internet. Try telling that to Andrew Breitbart’s children someday, when they are old enough to Google their fathers name and read the stuff so many keyboard commandos said about him as they hid behind their anonymous user names. Then try to imagine how your own children would feel if strangers, who didn’t know you, read stuff written about you like what you feel the need to write about Anderew Breitbart.

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  127. mantis says:

    I might sometimes say something caustic, but I have never, in all of the times I have commented on different blogs, said anything hateful about anyone, whether they were a public figure or another anonymous commenter. It wouldn’t make me feel better, or look better, to do so.

    But professing your moral superiority certainly does. Rest well in the knowledge that you are a better person than everyone else.

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  128. Moderate Mom says:

    @mantis:

    Not better, but probably kinder.

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  129. de stijl says:

    I remain puzzled why talking about the way that Breitbart chose to lead his public life or to engage with what he thought of as his political enemies should be off limits for some undetermined time period after his death.

    I have an opinion about what Rush Limbaugh said today about Sandra Fluke and what that says about Limbaugh. If he were to die tomorrow there are some here that would say that I could not express that opinion.

    I do not understand that. And I have yet to see anyone articulate anything beyond the “Don’t speak ill of the dead” cliche, or that he had a family, or he was relatively young.

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  130. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl: You actually have to read and pay attention to the arguments in order to understand them. Nobody’s saying that criticizing controversial people in death is a problem. The specific thing being objected to is celebrating the death of people who were mere political opponents rather than, say, mass murderers.

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  131. An Interested Party says:

    Try telling that to Andrew Breitbart’s children someday, when they are old enough to Google their fathers name and read the stuff so many keyboard commandos said about him as they hid behind their anonymous user names.

    While they are Googling their father’s name, perhaps they will be exposed to his stuff too…

    Not better, but probably kinder.

    Kinder than Breitbart, no doubt…

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  132. Jenos Idanian says:

    @WR: To Jenos, Breitbart was a hero because he destroyed ACORN, which helped poor people to fight against predatory lenders, to get decent housing, to register to vote, to get living wages and to have their children educated.

    ACORN actively encouraged and facilitated voter fraud. Caught and proven time and time and time again.

    To Jenos Breitbart was a hero because he tried to destroy Planned Parenthood, which provides basic health care services for millions of women.

    Planned Parenthood performed about 330,000 abortions in 2011. Assuming 250 work days in a year and 8 hours in a work day, that’s 2.75 abortions a minute. They also were caught, time and time again, aiding and abetting in the sexual exploitation of children by providing abortions for minors without the knowledge or consent of their parents, or reporting the sexual abuse of a minor (the pregnancy of which is prima facie evidence of such abuse).

    One of the darker parts of Catholic history was the selling of “indulgences” — when those who intended to commit sins could perform their penance (usually in the form of financial penalties) in advance, then go out and commit the sins with a clean conscience.

    WR seems to have a similar attitude — if some groups do what he considers “good,” then they are excused from having to obey other laws. Their good deeds mean we should ignore their crimes and misdeeds and offenses and moral failures.

    I recall a lot of Catholic apologists trying a similar argument during the pedophile priest scandals — the Church does so much good, that we should not push them too hard on these rare and tragic incidents.

    I didn’t buy that then, and I don’t buy WR’s rationales now.

    Further, the push wasn’t to shut down Planned Parenthood, but for the federal government to stop supporting them. But as the Susan B. Komen foundation found out, neutrality is not an option. You have to support them, or you are their enemy. Staying out of their fights is not an option; “you’re either with us or against us. And if you’re against us, we’ll do all we can to destroy you.”

    That says all you could ever need to know about Jenos.

    And far more than you ever needed to know about WR.

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  133. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    I was not talking about your initial arguments in the post but about how some folks have responded both in this thread and the first Breitbart post.

    Nobody’s saying that criticizing controversial people in death is a problem.

    It certainly appears that way to me – two of those who come thisclose to saying that are co-editors of this blog. Others just flat-out say it.

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  134. An Interested Party says:

    ACORN actively encouraged and facilitated voter fraud. Caught and proven time and time and time again.

    Really?

    In the month after the videos were released, Acorn commissioned an internal audit by a former attorney general of Massachusetts, Scott Harshbarger. His report, released in December, said the employees portrayed in the videos had not engaged in any illegal activity. Last month, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office completed an investigation of the Acorn employees there who appeared in the video and concluded that they had not taken part in any criminality.

    Surely you wouldn’t mind providing links to give credence to your accusations?

    Planned Parenthood performed about 330,000 abortions in 2011. Assuming 250 work days in a year and 8 hours in a work day, that’s 2.75 abortions a minute. They also were caught, time and time again, aiding and abetting in the sexual exploitation of children by providing abortions for minors without the knowledge or consent of their parents, or reporting the sexual abuse of a minor (the pregnancy of which is prima facie evidence of such abuse).

    And these accusations are substantiated by?

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  135. Anonne says:

    The thing that is missing is the fact that humans are complex beings. I am certain that any honest obituary of Andrew Breitbart, or Ted Kennedy, acknowledged the good as well as the bad. We can all agree that no human is completely bad, although some people’s capacity for bad conduct is greater than others’.

    Breitbart was a loving father and devoted friend. Yay. I feel sorry that that is all that most people will say about him, just to be judicious. Similarly, Chappaquidick is not the defining feature of Ted Kennedy’s legacy, however horrible the incident was. It’s not that simple.

    To people concern trolling about Breitbart’s children: Andrew Breitbart lived a controversial life in front of his children, and the things he said about other people during his lifetime should be just as embarrassing to his children as the things said about him in death. They shouldn’t be surprised, since their dad lived for this kind of stuff. No one should be happy that he’s dead, but they shouldn’t expect people to paint a rosier picture of his life just because he died.

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  136. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Anonne: Similarly, Chappaquidick is not the defining feature of Ted Kennedy’s legacy, however horrible the incident was. It’s not that simple.

    Actually, it summed up his character far better than any other incident.

    He (most likely) drunkenly drove his car off a bridge. (Alcohol played a major role in much of his life, and his family’s fortune was built on it.) He abandoned a young woman trapped in the sunken car. (He was a notorious womanizer and user of women in his private life.) He fled to a hotel, where he tried to establish an alibi by chatting with the desk clerk. (He always sought to avoid any kind of personal responsibility for his failings.) In the morning, he told his cronies about the crash, and tried to persuade them to help with the coverup. (The Kennedy family always had plenty of loyalists and retainers to protect them from the consequences of their screwups.) After the crash, he wore a neck brace in public. (The Kennedys have always relied on public sympathy and adoration to survive and persevere.) In the end, he pleaded guilty to “leaving the scene of an accident” and was given a two-month suspended sentence and the loss of his license for six months. (Until the conviction of Michael Skakel for murder, the Kennedys had always escaped legal consequences for their crimes.) And the whole thing was done primarily to protect Ted’s political career and future. (That is almost always the first priority of the family.)

    So I’d say that Chappaquiddick is Ted Kennedy’s legacy (and, in many ways, the legacy of his family) in a nutshell.

    So let’s compare that with, say, Breitbart and Shirley Sherrod. Breitbart’s version, which has not been successfully challenged (dismissed by his critics, but never disproven): he gets an edited copy of Sherrod’s speech at an NAACP event where she admits to poorly treating poor whites based on their race, and the audience approving of her confession. Breitbart is already working on exposing the NAACP as a body far more interested in advancing politics over race, and sees it as solid proof. He realizes that it’s a partial tape, so he tries to cover his ass by asking the NAACP for a full copy of the speech (they have one.) They refuse, so he releases the full copy, confident that the resultant pressure will get them to release it.

    Instead, Sherrod’s bosses panic and overreact and fire her within hours, before the NAACP says anything. When the full story comes out within a day, the Secretary of Agriculture himself calls Sherrod to apologize and offer her her old job back, or an even better one. Sherrod refuses.

    There’s a principle in law that says that an injured party has an obligation to minimize their damages. (I’ll leave it to the numerous lawyers to cite the actual term.) For example, if you hit my car, I can’t just leave it in neutral, let it roll down the hill, and hold you responsible for those damages, too; nor can I leave it unlocked at the scene and then blame you for someone else stealing my stereo. Sherrod was not only offered full restitution by the people who actually panicked and wrongly injured her (her bosses in the Obama administration), but more — and she turned it down. So her claim against Breitbart is minimal — if at all. After all, it’s not like he drove her off a bridge and left her to drown.

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  137. WR says:

    @Moderate Mom: “Then try to imagine how your own children would feel if strangers, who didn’t know you, read stuff written about you like what you feel the need to write about Anderew Breitbart. ”

    That’s one reason — among many — I would never act like Andrew Breitbart. Here’s a hint — you don’t want your kids reading that you were a thug and a bully? Don’t act like a thug and a bully.

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  138. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Is there anything Breitbart ever said that you won’t simply regurgitate? Those crazy rioters in Afghanistan don’t treat the words of the Koran with the same kind of slavish devotion as you do the slobberings of Breitbart’s empire of slander.

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  139. Jenos Idanian says:

    @WR: I’d say you’re being ridiculously hyperbolic, but by your own standards you’re lying. If I took you as seriously as the adherents of The Religion Of Peace (TM) take their books, you’d be worried I’d be looking to kill you, not laugh at you.

    But if you wanna play hyperbole, you’re trying to pathetically prove the Big Lie school — repeat your lies often enough, and eventually people might believe them. Fortunately, you seem to think that your opponents are as weak-willed and dishonest as you.

    Breitbart kept winning because he didn’t lie. He took on the liars.

    I’d challenge you to cite examples of Breitbart lying (as in, “knowingly repeating falsehoods with the intent to deceive,”) but I don’t want to embarrass you. You do just fine on your own.

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  140. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “If I took you as seriously as the adherents of The Religion Of Peace (TM) take their books, you’d be worried I’d be looking to kill you, not laugh at you.”

    I’ve met enough right wing internet blowhards in my life that I would never spend a second worrying that you would ever try to harm me, no matter how much I hurt your little feelings. Your actual courage exists as far as the latest cutesy name you’ve adopted for yourself. You’re the big tough guy as long as you can hide behind a pseudonym you’ve nicked from some science fiction movie. This is why you worship Breitbart — because he had the courage to be a bully in real life. Sure, he was a thug and a creep, but he wasn’t afraid of his own shadow. Sure, he was a rich guy who mostly targeted the poor and powerless, but to you that seems really cool. You don’t even have the courage of your loathesome convictions.

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  141. bOb says:

    This is coming into the conversation 140 comments deep, but that’s not really all that relevant. The subject these comments relate to are “speaking ill of the dead” and specifically refer to Andrew Breitbart.
    There are very few people whose grave I would dance upon… can’t even think of any… and I hardly rejoice at Andrew’s passing, primarily for the sake of his family. To them he seems to have been someone they loved and this is therefore tragic. But his public persona was that of an asshole. He brought nothing constructive to the political conversation. To the vast majority of us he was just another asshole. What’s to miss?

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