Layton overload: ‘Teddy bear grief’ and the ‘state funeral’

“…traditional mourning rituals dominated by religion have been discarded, but with nothing equally dignified to replace them, we have turned to sentimentality and kitsch to express our sense of loss.”

“Protocol was invented for a good reason. Protocol allows people to perform on automatic pilot when stress clouds their ability to think clearly.”

I have reached the point where I am quite frankly sick and tired of the endless ‘grief’ over the death of Jack Layton, and I have no doubt that “Layton overload” will become another crime against political correctness in much the same way that “holocaust denial” is already. Enforced grief will become the order of the day.

As I have already said, “He was a very pleasant and approachable individual, but that did not in any way alter the fact that his political ideology was unrealistic, backward, and essentially selfish.” Indeed, in searching for “social justice” his political platform called for penalizing the innovators and risk-takers in society, and rewarding the non-productive and indolent among us. And, as Margaret Thatcher famously said, “sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.”

The letter Jack Layton ‘wrote’ with so much help is carefully, perhaps even cynically, designed to squeeze every last drop out of his personal popularity, in order to inspire emotional support for his political party and his ideology for decades to come.

Young people will be attracted by the artfully crafted mystique, and by the tragedy of his early death, rather than by any rational consideration of socialism and its alternatives. I can see framed copies of his ‘farewell letter’ being given to youngsters by their parents, and to starry-eyed new members by the fawning NDP.

Prime Minister Harper’s ill-conceived offer of a ‘state funeral’ plays right into that morbid opportunism, and also detracts from the dignity and solemnity such occasions are intended to convey. There is no precedent for a leader of the Opposition to be given a state funeral, and once again one of our basic traditions is cheapened in the name of catering to media-enabled ‘mob grief’.

Enough, already. Time to move on.

Jeff Goodall.

Jack Layton shouldn’t get a state funeral

National Post

Barbara Kay: August 24th, 2011

It seems the rules are changing on who gets a state funeral in Canada. Jack Layton never led a government, never sat in cabinet and never served as governor-general. According to protocol and tradition, he should not be getting one. Why is he?

Because people liked him a lot, and because he was consumed by a cause in which triumph was contingent on overcoming tremendous odds, if at all, and because he faced up to a terrible illness with courage and dignity.

And because we live in a culture in which traditional mourning rituals dominated by religion have been discarded, but with nothing equally dignified to replace them, we have turned to sentimentality and kitsch to express our sense of loss.

Call it teddy bear grief. Who can forget the hysteria around Princess Diana’s death, when a whole nation went slightly berserk with an outpouring of grief that was totally inappropriate and disproportionate. Anger at the paparazzi held responsible for the car crash was soon displaced by anger at the royal family for their seeming coolness. Hysteria grew over the fact that the flag at Buckingham Palace wasn’t at half mast even though no royal death would have warranted it according to protocol and tradition.

The only adult in the room at that time was the Queen, on holiday in Balmoral, who at first was unaware of the national mood, and when apprised of it, was instinctively repulsed by it. Tony Blair recalled that the Queen “rightly” viewed the public mood as “irrational.” But her advisors told her she had to make her sorrow public, and like the good soldier she is, she did, and the anger subsided.

Many politicians took a lesson from that episode. Stephen Harper was apparently one of them. He pre-empted condemnation of his aloofness detachment from human emotion by ordering a state funeral in order to satisfy the teddy-bear grief needs of a nation that has abandoned traditional channels for the expression of communal sorrow.

Protocol was invented for a good reason. Protocol allows people to perform on automatic pilot when stress clouds their ability to think clearly. It’s lovely to see the outpouring of affection for Jack, but a state funeral was the wrong decision. It is precisely when emotions run high that cooler heads should prevail. Stephen Harper has made a specialty of being the cooler head in many critical situations abroad. He goofed this time.

National Post

See original here

See also “Questioning the cost of Layton’s state funeral” by Joe Warmington, August 23rd here.

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