A friend wondered why, in the wake of Whitney Houston’s death, the news media focused more on her drug abuse than on her music. I was castigated for defending them. I was told that such talk was disrespectful. I was told that there are times to speak and times to be silent, and that this is the time to be silent.
It is not.
Silence in the face of death and the gruesome things that cause it is simply not right. At such times, we must give voice to death's victims. In this case, we must give voice to the voice that drug abuse silenced. If you liked her voice, then speak out against what stopped it. This is the time when we must "rage against the dying of the light," when we lament "the day the music died," and denounce openly and precisely what killed it. This is the day when we say the things the dead would say if they could return to say it.
I get enormously weary of the pensive, demurring, eyes-lowered, hands-folded, church mouse piety that, even in the face of death itself, cannot muster an echo, or the echo of an echo, of prophetic denunciation, and that flatters itself as respectful and prudent when all the while it has done nothing more noble than shamefacedly to slough off its obligation to call things by their real names. I am sick of the passive-aggressive, self-congratulatory posing of pietists who think themselves too holy to enter the fray.
If you respected Whitney Houston, you’ll denounce what killed her. If you loved her music, you’ll speak out against what brought it to an end. You won’t wait until the time is right because that time is now.
As pacifists are to tyrants, silence mongers are to pushers -- a dream come true.
Better far to be their worst nightmare.