How Far Should #MeToo Go?

To my knowledge the dilemma hasn’t happened yet, but it seems inevitable. One of the sex abusers identified by the #MeToo movement will die and need burial. Opposition to this will come.

Someone or perhaps many will say, “Not in the same cemetery with someone I respect, someone I love. Not in the same place I will be buried.”

There are historical precedents, as related below.

The question then becomes, how far do we take punishment? Do we make it posthumous?

The link here is to an essay I wrote in 2018, prompted by the death of a World War II Nazi war criminal and the opposition to his burial, not only in particular cemeteries, but by two different countries. Ultimately, no one wanted to inter this man’s body except a group of Holocaust deniers.

I’d be most interested in what you might have to say on the subject. Here, again, is the link:

Are Villains Due Respect When They Die?

The photo of Harvey Weinstein was taken by David Shankbone on May 4, 2010 at the Time 100 Gala. It was sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

6 thoughts on “How Far Should #MeToo Go?

  1. Joan Chandler

    If we make a commitment to fight tyranny in our daily lives and in public support for that fight, we can let go of a need to be involved in what happens to a bad person after they die. Resisting what they did while they were alive is the most, and best, we can do.

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  2. drgeraldstein

    Agreed, Joan. Action in life is the operative idea. Too late otherwise.

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  3. This is a question that hits very close to home for me. Just in the past year we discovered that my Grandmother’s uncle tried to kill his family in a rage. (Due to two brothers marrying two sisters, my grandmother’s parents were related to both the perpetrator and the victim) We discovered this after my Grandmother’s death.

    The attack occurred in 1931 and he had some history of mental disturbance previously. His wife was severely injured in the rage and died a year later. Two children died in the attack (one a baby Mom tried to save, the other a young daughter defending her Mom) and three children escaped. He tried to kill himself but did not succeed, was permanently committed, and died 30 years later. The surviving young children (my grandmothers age at the time) moved into the house to be raised as siblings with my Grandmother. Yet, this story was never told to the following generations.

    Every year we attend the stones at the cemetery for various family members. We would plant flowers with my Grandmother for her parents and now she and her brother both are next to her parents. Every year we would walk by the stones for the kids and their mother. Since they shared last names we must have asked my Grandmother if they were related, but none of us have any memory of an acknowledgement of the relationship.

    When we found out about the murders, we visited the stones and were shocked to find the perpetrator buried right along with the family he killed (albeit 3 decades after).

    There are so many possible stories that are now lost to time of how he ended up there. Was there a reconciliation? Was there forgiveness of his mental incapacity? Was there a sense of duty for the family? Was there no other option?

    And, ultimately, why the secrecy?

    These generations later we feel offended by his presence placed next to his victim’s last resting place. Now that we know the story and relationship we plant flowers for his wife and the children, but not for him. There may be a basis for some level of respect for the dead that should be afforded- but it feels as if the victims, their lives shortened by the actions of the perpetrator, are locked into continued victim hood with him resting within their midst. His stone, with his date of death, highlights all the extra time he had. It feels that placement in the same cemetery but out of sight of the victims would provide at least some space for the victims to be outside his dark shadow.

    I suppose none of the dead are perfect people and all the stories are at an end. Is it respectful, though, to ignore the stories of those so affected in life by a perpetrator? When a life is taken by another, is not the “punishment” similarly carried posthumously?

    Thank you for a space to think about this a bit.

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  4. drgeraldstein

    Extraordinary. When we deal in abstractions, as I did in the essay, we miss the personal. Honor the dead, yes, but next to those he murdered? Not a thought that one automatically considers as a proximity one might encounter. As you suggest, Rebecca, without the rest of the story, what is one to think of how it happened and why? Many thanks for such a thoughtful, carefully considered comment. It will resonate in me for a while.

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  5. Dr. Stein, the comment I made on your 2013 post still stands. I would, however, like to add that the villain’s family also have the choice of cremation. What they do with his ashes is their concern.

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  6. drgeraldstein

    I’d not thought of that, Rosaliene. Religious issues, ironically enough, might enter and prevent that. Still, an insightful observation. Thank you, as always.

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