The day after the news broke: Is it a moral quandry?

By now, surely the entire world is aware that US special forces attacked and killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and broke the news officially early in the morning/late at night.

I was in a moral quandry between wanting to be true to my political leanings/principles and not wanting to say things like “I’m glad he’s dead, he needed killing,” but I found myself saying things like “I’m glad he’s dead, he needed killing.” My mother briefly worked for United Airlines as a flight attendant and one of her flights — Boston to LA — was one of the flights hijacked from Logan Airport on the morning of September 11. In fact, she started her flight attendant training on September 11, 2000. I’m grateful that my mother decided that being a flight attendant wasn’t for her, but what do you say to all of the family and friends of the people who did die? They’re not going to get those family members and friends back. It was horrifying enough to see the images and let the enormity of the situation sink in without being directly affected by it. In fact, I can still remember how the news broke that morning while I sat at my desk chatting with my best friend on Instant Messenger. I still remember watching the second tower collapse on a large TV in one of the conference rooms that had been opened up because of the news. Of the people alive that day, who doesn’t remember? That really is, unfortunately, an event that shaped a generation. How could it not? We’d never board an airplane without the lingering memory of that horrible day actively changing the way we travel by air for the next decade (and probably permanently).

As a person who watches a lot of Law & Order, I get a lot of satisfaction in watching fictional justice on that show. I get a lot of satisfaction from comic books, cartoons, movies, and other fiction where good prevails over evil, justice is served, the bad guys get what’s due to them, etc. I get that satisfaction because life doesn’t have that sort of consistent justice.

Earlier, I worried if it was in horrible, poor taste for me to make some tweets wondering if Solid Snake, America’s greatest fictional Army deserter and nuclear watchdog, had done in America’s number one enemy. Was it in poor taste to make light of the death of someone who had called for the murder of thousands of people whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time? After all, one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. The distinction is made through methodology. Protesting for democracy in your country is pretty different from making plans to blow shit up and kill people. The action in poor taste is deciding that people needed to die needlessly and horribly in order for you to make your point, and more people needed to suffer because you made perception of their religion into something other than what it really is. I worried that  making images suggesting a fictional video game character was the one who did in OBL might be offensive to the people truly responsible for OBL’s death or to OBL’s victims. Everyone copes differently, I suppose, and it gave people some laughs. I don’t think that’s wrong.

There were a lot of people saying that you shouldn’t revel in the death of an enemy of your country.  I believe that there are, at times, some people who are beyond redemption and just don’t have much right to be on this earth. There are plenty of other Osama bin Ladens left or waiting to take his place. I feel like it’s okay to think that this person was against everything that decent people believe in and, in that way, it’s no so bad that he took a bullet to the head. I don’t feel like it’s something that requires searching deep into your soul to decide whether or not you should really feel some sort of relief, closure, or even jubilation that someone who’s been a symbol for pure evil, twisted rhetoric and completely misguided action should meet their demise.  Maybe this is something that requires you look deep into yourself: why it’s good above all else that this specific person is no longer on the planet more than any other people who decide to take innocent lives to further their own ideological goals. I think if you really need to ask yourself why it’s okay to feel bad about the death of a person like this, I think it’s probably not a sign that you’re a sociopath.

At the same time, I think it’s possible to hold onto your humanity. Someone on Facebook (a friend of a friend) seemed incensed that Muslim tradition was being honored by burying the body of OBL at sea. I wondered what it was that this person wanted: was the corpse supposed to be dressed up in jeggings and a Snuggie? Pajama jeans? Everyone takes turns trying to pitch peanut M&Ms into wherever it was that the eye used to be? Does that bring back the people who died? I don’t think good people need to lose their own humanity as a result of this.

Anyhow, what I decided was this: 1) I was going to sell some buttons to “commemorate” the occasion and then donate any money I made from sales of said buttons to a charity that helps out soldiers, specifically the Special Operations Warrior Foundation in the same way that I’m redirecting money from the sale of my Sailor Moon button 6-packs to Architecture for Humanity (and hey, by the way, you can now make donations directly to them via the link in the sidebar of this blog); 2) I wasn’t a bad person nor is anyone else a bad person for not only not feeling bad about the death of this bastard, but even for feeling jubilant, and 3) If you’d like to feel bad that other people feel bad about being happy about this fucker’s death, or if you’d like to be angry about other people not being sufficiently furious or satisfied that OBL is dead, you’re wasting your time and energy.