The Awkward Glee of Cheering a Death

Some commentators question the appropriateness of celebrating Bin Laden's Demise. Others scold.

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Yes, Osama bin Laden was the worst guy in the world, but he and his companions were people nonetheless, and we're not supposed to be happy when people died. Yesterday, a bunch of soldiers storming into someone's house and killing him and some of his family. And people took to the street in joy. It can be a strange feeling. The Onion, as it frequently does, neatly summed up this awkward mood: "Violent Death Of Human Being Terrific News For Once." In a short New Yorker blog post, Amy Davidson was more contemplative on the same point: "I am not sad that Osama is dead; but I would be happier if he were in custody, and headed for trial," she wrote, pointing to her dismayed reaction a year ago when Eric Holder said the U.S. would only read Miranda rights "to the Corpse of Osama bin Laden."

As the euphoria wore off a bit during the, various commentators started to trot out more sober and even scolding missives that ran contrary to blaring tabloid headlines such as the New York Daily News's "Rot In Hell." Salon's David Sirota warns, "[I]n the years since 9/11, we have begun vaguely mimicking those we say we despise, sometimes celebrating bloodshed against those we see as Bad Guys just as vigorously as our enemies celebrate bloodshed against innocent Americans they (wrongly) deem as Bad Guys."

Gawker's John Cook argues that the bloodlust that gripped the nation last night and today is warranted: "If there is ever a time when we should give ourselves license to surrender to our animal selves and dance on the grave of an enemy, this is it."

The Decemberists' Colin Maloy Tweeted a message earlier today that hit somewhere between the shaming of Sirota and the jubilation from the News: "He was a demagogue and mass-murderer. But rejoicing in or celebrating another person's violent death is fucked. Let's quietly move on."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.