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Lipson on basic decency

Summary:
Why are people gloating over Rush Limbaugh’s death? Charles Lipson writes The gloating over Rush Limbaugh’s death ought to shock the conscience. That’s not a political statement. That’s a cri de coeur about how our basic sense of human decency has been warped by political differences.To take one example, a Yale Law professor tweeted he wasn’t just ...

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Why are people gloating over Rush Limbaugh’s death? Charles Lipson writes 

The gloating over Rush Limbaugh’s death ought to shock the conscience. That’s not a political statement. That’s a cri de coeur about how our basic sense of human decency has been warped by political differences.

To take one example, a Yale Law professor tweeted he wasn’t just happy Limbaugh had died, he was euphoric.

Lipson on basic decency

He’s not some drunk being carried out of a rowdy bar. He’s the Charles F. Southmayd Professor of Law and Philosophy at Yale Law School and the Director of Yale’s Center for Law and Philosophy. ...

The New York Times chose to write about Limbaugh's "Legacy of Venom:", "Weaponizing conspiracy theories and bigotry."  Could they not wait for his body to be cold? Or show less respect for the tens of millions of apparently deplorable fellow citizens who listened to him? 

This is not one more complaint about the woke left. This is a problem on both sides. 

Rush’s friends on the right are happy to claim the moral high ground when the left is degrading itself like this. But they only hold it for a moment. They act the same way when the opportunity arises. Do you think they would behave any better if a Nancy Pelosi was hit by a bus? Many would think it was the perfect time to share with the world how much they hated the Speaker, how glad they were to see her gone.

Quite a few expressed that view when invading the Capitol a month or so ago.  

Lipson's main point, and mine: 

The point here is not only that this behavior is despicable, though it is. The point is that so many people think their views are righteous and worth sharing with the world. That smugness and moral self-righteousness are signs of our political divisions and the moral decay they generate.

...

When prominent people celebrate Rush Limbaugh’s death they are, inadvertently, telling us something about the decay of our civic culture. They are showing that we are now behaving as if we are at war, a cultural and political civil war. In the process, we are losing our sense of respect for each other at a very basic level.

No one has the moral high ground here. Far too many take every fleeting opportunity to cry, ‘Vengeance is mine.’ That cry springs from battles that both sides now consider life-or-death. That is not how political differences should be contested in a constitutional democracy. That is not how people in tolerant, liberal societies treat each other. For those who say, ‘We are better than that,’ it’s time to show it.

Both sides of our partisan politics are acting as if this is a life or death battle, the point being to wipe the other side off the face if not of the earth, of our political life. As I have opined, if it is so, we need to change the winner take all rules of our game. 

My mother advised, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything. George Shultz, who we have been remembering this week at Hoover,  would not have behaved this way, even on the death of a deep ideological opponent. "Show respect" was one of his watchwords. He did, even to the Soviets. 

Let's try to keep comments polite on this one. 

John H. Cochrane
In real life I'm a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. I was formerly a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. I'm also an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute. I'm not really grumpy by the way!

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