Home > Don't make me hurt you, only slightly ranty > How to Lose Respect

How to Lose Respect

I have very little tolerance for anyone who makes a joke out of tragedy (Gilbert Gottfried, anyone?). Or, rather, who attempts to mock a tragedy. Humor is great. It’s a beautiful thing, and it often gets people (myself included) through hard times. But it should never be at the expense of someone who is suffering — or who suffered.

Let’s say someone died. You can say that everyone saw it coming. There was an illness. It was apparent, unavoidable. Not a matter of ‘if,’ but of ‘when.’ No amount of shouting ‘get off the tracks’ would’ve helped.

This person dies. No one can say, “Oh, wow, surprise!” But does that make the death any less painful? Does it lessen the gaping pit in peoples’ lives? Does it make the tears go away?

No, it doesn’t.

Now, let’s name the disease. If I called it cancer, it’s a tragedy. A horrible, messy awful blight. But what if I name the cause as…addiction. Drugs, alcohol. Even when a person gets clean, these things leave a mark — a physical mark and a personal one. It’s like trying to outrun your own shadow.

Addiction can kill you, even when you stop doing drugs. Even when you no longer drink. It does damage. It hurts your heart, your liver. Bad choices don’t disappear simply because you WANT to get better.

It’s the same with eating disorders. A person can be in recovery. A person can be getting healthy, eating, and taking care. But the damage may already be done. A heart problem may already exist.

So, someone died. Yes, I’m talking about Amy Winehouse. Yes, I know many people have written beautiful things about her and her talent (Russell Brand, Kat Howard and Amanda Palmer, respectively). Whatever you might think about her life, her death is a tragedy. It is a loss, plain and simple. Not just of talent — but of a human life. Snuffed out.

When you disrespect the dead, no matter the reason, you also disrespect the living — the people left behind. And in doing that, you might hurt yourself, because it shows a lack of compassion, a lack of decency. I’ve seen a lot of that on the internet, lately. I’ve seen a lot of easy jokes and misplaced humor.

It makes me sad. It makes me question your character. There’s no acceptable reason to belittle someone’s death. Life changes, always, in an instant. Don’t lose sight of that. When you do, you lose sight of so much more than you know.

“Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.”
Joan Didion (The Year of Magical Thinking)

  1. July 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I really loved the way Russell put it, that you’re always waiting for the call, one way or the other. Lovely post. So sad that she didn’t make it to the good phone call.

    • Ali
      July 27, 2011 at 2:23 pm

      I loved the way he put it, too. It was honest and perfectly conveyed. It hurt to read it. I’d never paid much attention to him, before — but that article earned major credit from me. It is sad that she didn’t make it to that good phone call. *shakes head* Thank you for reading — and commenting!!

  2. sharono360
    July 27, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    You are absolutely right. Drug and alcohol addiction have taken too many lives. At present I have a son who really needs to get help; it is the most important issue in my life right now. He recognizes his problem but is still hesitating to make the call.

    • Ali
      July 27, 2011 at 2:24 pm

      It affects so many people, not just the one with the addiction. I’ll keep your son in my thoughts, Sharon! I’m so glad you joined WordPress, btw. :-)

  3. Stevie Nicola
    July 27, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Completely agree. I can’t believe the lack of utter human decency about this. It makes me sick to my stomach.

    • Ali
      July 27, 2011 at 2:24 pm

      Me too, Nicola. It’s appalling. *shakes head*

  4. Josh A. Kruschke
    July 27, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Sharon I write this for you.

    Addiction is a totally self-inflicted ‘disease’ and selfish pursuit. Nothing like cancer. It’s a total lack of caring about those around you. Of finding what ever you are addicted to as more important than your loved-ones, friends and family. It’s a total lack of respect for oneself and others. Addiction is just a slower form of suicide.

    I feel for her family and loved-ones that had to slowly watch her kill herself. This is not their fault and there was nothing they could of done; this is all on her!

    And possibly any enablers, those that help her make excuses and justify her behave-your.

    I’m the type of person that believes in maximum personal freedom. This means you have the freedom to chose; your addiction or your loved-ones and then live or die with the consequences. This doesn’t mean I have to condone or support them on their road of self-destruction. I don’t have to feel sorry for them or pity them. This would mean that I was some how better or more capable than them, that I had some power to influence their decision, and that’s not an emotional place that I’m willing to go.

    Now if a joke is made to demean or make fun of the deceased that’s not cool. Sometimes things are so bad they fall into the absurd, and sometime this blurs the line between funny and tragic. As someone that’s laughed his own eminent death a few time, some times sh*ts just funny.

    So feel sorry for her loved-ones and those left behind; not her she made her decision.

    Sharon I hope your son cares enough about you and and his loved-ones to get the help that he needs, but if not it’s not your fault and their is nothing you can do to change that.

    Josh

    P.s. This is all speculation with Amy Winehouse at this point anyways.

    • Ali
      July 27, 2011 at 6:41 pm

      While I respect your right to an opinion, I think the tone of your comment is rather inconsiderate — especially given what Sharon might be dealing with personality. Addiction might be a slow form of suicide, as you put it, but to call it a self-inflicted disease shows a lack of understanding (about the nature of addiction). I wasn’t telling anyone who to feel sorry for, but I was calling for compassion. There is a difference.

      • Josh A. Kruschke
        July 27, 2011 at 8:21 pm

        This view is from my personal battle with alcohol and what I’ve seen addiction do to those left behind. The what if I loved them more? What did I do wrong? How? Why? What if…. what if? All she or anyone can do is love them, and be there for them if they decide to stop.

        I’ve seen loved ones, left behind, destroyed by the what if questions.

        There are support groups for family members, and maybe this is something she needs to look into.

        She’s not alone.

        If it’s mental then it’s still his choice; unless he is a danger to himself and others, but that’s a decision for her and the courts to decide.

        There’s a difference between compassion and justifying. It is self-inflected unless some forced you to take that first step, but even then it would be to deal or not with the problem.

        Making excuses for them never helps them, and maybe even enabling them. The poor them mentality never helps them and maybe even helps the justify to themselves that they are powerless and it’s not my fault. It’s the addictions fault.

        I feel compassion for them and want the best for them, but other than taking there freedom from them and living there life for them, I’m powerless to stop them from doing what ever it is they are bent on doing.

        I wish Sharon and her son the best in whatever life brings them.

        Josh

      • Ali
        July 27, 2011 at 8:45 pm

        The bottom line is that I did not see the need to attack what Sharon believes or feels. It is one thing to say, “I disagree with this post, and here’s why…” It is another thing entirely to single out someone like you did. Additionally, the basic point of my post (the original impetus for this discussion) is compassion. I’d like to reiterate that, since this seems to have fallen by the wayside.

    • July 27, 2011 at 8:32 pm

      I can’t help but disagree with you here. The very definition of the word “addiction” implies that there is no “choice” to be had. It wouldn’t be an addiction of the person was able to say no and keep away. Yes, it was more than likely a choice to take the drug or drink the first time, but at that point I wouldn’t say an addiction was present.

  5. July 27, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Well said, Ali. While we all maybe saw this coming, that doesn’t mean it’s not still a tragic and senseless loss. Amy Winehouse had a gift, and I know I myself am sad that I won’t be able to reap the benefits of her gift anymore.

    • Ali
      July 27, 2011 at 8:47 pm

      She did have a gift (I listened to a few songs of hers, tonight). She made bad choices, but my heart goes out to her family. They watched this happen to someone they loved. There are few things more difficult than feeling that helpless.

  6. Josh A. Kruschke
    July 27, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Ali –

    No addiction just means you have a harder time making the right choice.

    By your definition I should just go getva drink, because it’s inevitable and I really don’t have choice about it.

    Josh

    • Ali
      July 27, 2011 at 8:57 pm

      First, I never talked about the definition of addiction. Second, I never said there wasn’t a choice. However, there are other factors — predisposition, for one. But back to what I said earlier — this post about mourning and loss and compassion. It’s about not making fun a horrible event that happened. That’s it. I’d appreciate it if you’d stick to the topic and treat it in the spirit it was written.

  7. Josh A. Kruschke
    July 27, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    By the way I do feel compassion for Sharon that’s why I spoke up. As I didn’t want her to beat herself up over something she has no power in controlling.

    It’s up to her son to fix his life. Maybe I should of just kept my mouth shut and let her deal and find her ownway. It’s up to her anyway as I can’t force her to do anything, just as I can’t magically fix what’s ever going on in her sons life.

    Oh well this is what I get for opening my big mouth.

    Josh

  8. Josh A. Kruschke
    July 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Sorry, Ali it was Andrea not you that defined addiction as not having a choice.

    My apologies.
    :-(
    Josh

  9. Josh A. Kruschke
    July 27, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Ok I’ll be more laser like in my writing. I have compassion for those left behind that now have to deal with the consequences of someone else tragic decision. I care more for them than I do for the selfish individual that cares so little for themselves or loved ones, but I’m not going to beat up myself feeling sorry for them or lose any sleep over them playing what it’s in my head. My focus is on their families where their focus should of been.

    But I will give the same response I gave to one of my friends when I heard Kurt Cobain (one of my rock gods) killed himself, “Dumb bastard! Now his daughters going to grow up with out her father!”

    Sorry, I lose all respect for those who don’t respect themselves or their family.

    Josh

    Ps If you don’t want we to post anymore on your blog let me know, and it will be so.

  10. Josh A. Kruschke
    July 28, 2011 at 5:44 am

    Sorry, I’m a crappy writer, not very good at editing myself.

    Corrections for my first comment.

    “I feel for her (Amy Winehouse) family and loved-ones that had to slowly watch her kill herself. This is not their fault and there was nothing they could of done; this is all on her!
    And possibly any enablers, those that help her make excuses and justify her behave-your.”

    And,

    “So feel sorry for her (Amy Winehouse) loved-ones and those left behind; not her she made her decision.”

    There’s no excuse for that. Sorry. :-(
    Josh

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