So, Osama Bin Laden is riding the gravewave and everyone is celebrating. It seems weird that in 2011 people celebrate the death of someone. Seems super barbaric, you know?
This reminds me a lot of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. He says we’re so ‘civilized’ that we privatize punishment because we don’t like to be involved in it. Executions used to be public, notably: the guillotine was a source of daily entertainment during the French Revolution. Now we don’t really want to see this. It causes us to feel sympathy for an awful person and it probably glorifies someone like Osama more than it should.
But I think the desire to not experience Osama’s death publicly is short-sighted. What happens if we don’t do this, though? THis makes me think about the privatizing of animal slaughter as well (bear with me).We’ve largely privatized the process of producing the mean we eat. I watched an episode of The Real Housewives of Miami this season and one of the characters refused to eat at a pig roast because the pig had been slaughtered and prepared for the occasion. She used the word barbaric. Her reasoning went something along the lines of “it is okay to raise and kill animals in a more cruel way if I don’t know about it, killing an animal in a more humane way is not okay if it causes me to think about it.”
The more barbaric thing is to let people do this in secret, because there is no accountability. This is how I have been thinking about Osama. The idea of celebrating someone’s death will always make me a little uncomfortable, but better that it’s done in a way that people can see and verify and are forced to respond to rather than in secret.