Op-ed: How Do We React to the Death of a Bad Person?

Trigger warning: Violence and sexual assault


The headlines blare it: the death of some celebrity. All on social media, people are posting, worshipping the previous works that the person had devised. Talking about inspiration. Talking about how positively influential this person was.

For some reason, there isn’t that pit of devastation that the rest of the world seems to be feeling. And somehow, that seems to make it all the more worse– like you are a heartless, sick human being, who doesn’t feel any remorse towards the death of a human being. What’s wrong with you?

But maybe it’s because the delayed praise that the death seems to be generating is contrary to the reality, and you’re aware of this. It is a human soul dying– but what if the person was inhumane themselves?

This recent installment is, of course, talking about the death of rapper XXXTentacion. But it doesn’t have to be him. It could be Glee star Mark Salling, who committed suicide after child pornography charges. It could be, on a more drastic level, Osama bin Laden, who instigated terrorist attacks against the US like 9/11.

How do we react to the death of a bad person?

In all candor, XXXTentacion was a horrible person. Sure, his music might’ve been appealing to many, but how can we excuse his actions? People like him, who abused his pregnant girlfriend, who have instances of raging homophobia such as nearly beating an inmate in a juvenile detention center because he thought they were gay, and who have a track record of being violent towards others, don’t deserve a success story.

“So I’m like strangling him, and he’s like leaking, leaking, leaking type sh*t, and I’m strangling him so he doesn’t scream,” X said in a YouTube No Jumper podcast. “Don’t think I’m trying to be cliché or a f**king weirdo when I say this, but I was going crazy. Like, I smear his blood on my face, in my hands, I got it in my nails, bro, I had it all over me.”

His abuse borderlined torture. In the deposition his ex-girlfriend gave, speaking of the instances of abuse, she recounted how he allegedly told her to choose between two utensils — a “barbecue pitchfork” and a “barbecue cleaner”– for he was planning on forcefully inserting one of them in her genitalia.

To glorify his the reality of his actions and the life he lived is dangerous.

It seems almost taboo to be honest about the negative actions of people who are dead, especially recently. But these people don’t deserve to be praised.

I am absolutely not promoting celebration of a human being dying. Combating inhumanity with inhumanity is no way to make any kind of progress.

But if one doesn’t want to celebrate the life of a bad person, that doesn’t make them sick. Perhaps it just makes them realistic. Not everyone who dies can be a great person, no matter how you spin it.

Not everyone deserves to be.


Photo: Dan Garcia via Flickr



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