I was all set to write a piece pondering why people feel queasy about speaking ill of the dead, since I was pretty sure that was the tack I saw most left-bloggers take concerning Jesse Helms demise. But it seems like lots of people had no problem pointing out what a piece of crap Jesse Helms really was. That's a good thing, I think--no one is served by covering over the evil that our fellow humans do. But it's interesting that the notion of speaking ill of the dead as a bad thing is losing some power.
Is it because we're becoming less afraid of ghosts now? I can see the practice coming out of ancestor worship and the fear of being haunted by the angered spirits of our departed, and that's something that crosses nearly all cultures. From that point, it's an easy cross into general practice. But with more and more people pulling away from traditional beliefs, maybe people are starting to realize that there are lots of people who deserve to be talked badly about even after death, supernatural retribution be damned.