Conservatives spent much of Thursday mourning the sudden death of flame-throwing internet pioneer Andrew Breitbart — and fuming over the "astonishing outpouring of hate toward Breitbart from the Left." Among the "mean-spirited" blog posts and tweets from (presumably liberal) critics of the journalist-provocateur was a highly scrutinized tweet from Slate's Matt Yglesias: "Conventions around dead people are ridiculous. The world outlook is slightly improved with @AndrewBreitbart dead." Is cheering the death of a 43-year-old father of four a tasteless breach of decorum, or a justifiable reaction given Breitbart's own sometimes ugly tactics — including his own history of virtual grave-dancing?
Insulting the dead is just classless: "I don't see any purpose in getting my jollies trashing" Breitbart, says John Cole at Balloon Juice. I certainly didn't agree with him politically, but at a time like this, I'm just "really sad for his family." It's true that "Breitbart himself didn't feel constrained by any similar notions of restraint or respect for others," but we should all try to be better than that, and exhibit a "basic level of decency...."
"Excellent obit from Frum"
But Breitbart himself would appreciate the insults: Let's call a spade a spade, says Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone. Breitbart was toxic, shameless, and loathsome, and he reveled in humiliating people. "But he also had enough of a sense of humor to appreciate why someone like me shouldn't bother to pretend I'm sad he's dead. He wouldn't, in my place."
"Andrew Breitbart: Death of a douche"
And "speak no ill" doesn't do Breitbart justice: "To speak only 'good' of Andrew Breitbart would be to miss the story and indeed to misunderstand the man," says David Frum at The Daily Beast. "The good was there" — he was a loving husband and father, and a loyal friend. But his outsized "impact upon American media and American politics" was absolutely "poisonous." We inevitably judge public figures by their public actions, and Breitbart's empty rage and "giddy disdain for truth and fairness" are not an attractive legacy. In the wake of his death, these things cannot easily or fairly be ignored.
"Andrew Breitbart, 1969-2012"