Don’t Laugh at the Dead, Michelle Malkin

Michelle Malkin doesn't understand little kid morality

By David Mills Published on July 5, 2020

Why is “It’s a joke” a universal excuse for saying whatever you want? Many people who should know better say the worst things and when someone objects, excuse it with “It’s just a joke.”

Everyone can think of someone they know who does this. Often teenage boys who won’t control their speech. When they offend someone, they don’t apologize. They complain, “I was just joking” or “Why can’t people take a joke” or “Everyone’s so sensitive.” 

Add columnist Michelle Malkin to that group.

Over a Joke?

A young Alt Right leader named Jaden McNeil tweeted “Congratulations to George Floyd on being drug free for an entire month!” The tweet proved very popular, with about 4000 retweets the last time I checked, from his nearly 30,000 followers. It’s since been removed for violating Twitter’s rules.

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Many people got very upset. Much of that was politically driven. But much properly reacted to McNeil’s cruelty. The killing had been brutal. The president had called it “more than eight minutes of horror” and “a disgrace.” He told Sean Hannity, “It doesn’t get any worse than that.” How could you joke about such a thing?

Malkin jumped in with a tweet saying: “If Dave Chappelle tweeted this, no one would blink. Instead @KState officials, football players & virtue-signaling babies are in an uproar…and @McNeilJaden is getting death threats & expulsion threats across social media. OVER A JOKE. What a weak, pathetic country we live in.”

Schooling Malkin

One doesn’t want to school another adult in little kid morality, the how-would-you-feel-if-this-happened-to-you morality that’s the only kind small children can understand. But apparently Malkin needs it.

So: How would you, Michelle Malkin, feel if this happened to you? How would you like it if the subject of the joke were your husband, brother, son, close friend? Would you approve your loved one being held up for public contempt, as a joke? Whatever his failings, wouldn’t you demand more respect for his humanity than that?

Have you never heard the ancient adage De mortuis nil nisi bonum, “Do not speak ill of the dead”? Do you not understand its wisdom? Would you want people to laugh at you when you’re dead and can’t defend yourself? Would you want your loved ones to endure seeing you mocked?

Do you, since you identify yourself as a Catholic, know what the Bible says about our speech? Like the Apostle Paul’s “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

And his “Let your speech always be gracious,” meaning full of God’s grace. And this too: “In your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned. … Speak evil of no one, avoid quarreling, be gentle, and show perfect courtesy toward all people.”

Or this from Proverbs: “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I am only joking!’” We can substitute “mocks” for “deceives.”

A Sad Thing

Finally, Michelle Malkin, I assume you would not want your husband, brother, son, close friend to be spoken of like that. As jokes. So speak of others’ loved ones the way you would have others speak of the men you love. Little kids know to do that.

Christians don’t treat others as jokes. Scripture doesn’t let us say anything we want with the excuse, “It’s a joke.” What a weak, pathetic idea of speech that is.

Why am I making such a point about a kid’s stupid joke and an adult columnist’s defense of it? Because so many in our world passionately dehumanize human beings of whom they disapprove. Every side does it to the other. And every side howls about the other side doing it, without noticing they do it too.

Christians must refuse to do it. We of all people must stand for the dignity and worth of everyone God created and for whom Jesus gave His life. And speak about them that way. Little kid morality ought to be enough to make people speak kindly and charitably of others. Especially the dead. But we try to reflect something greater: The love of God for all His creatures. 

The Truth About Every Human Being

Given her views on things, I’m sure Malkin follows Pope John Paul II. Speaking to a pro-life gathering in 1986, he said: “What is needed is the courage to speak the truth clearly, candidly and boldly, but never with hatred or disrespect for persons. … To be pro-life then, to defend the right to life, means to stand up for the truth, especially the truth about the God-given dignity and worth of every human being.”

Even recently deceased ones. George Floyd wasn’t a joke or a man to be treated as a joke. He wasn’t much different from you or me, and despite his struggles he might well have been a better man than you or me. In any case, he was a man for whom Jesus died. If only people like Michelle Malkin knew that, instead of adding to the ugliness in the world.


Thanks to the writer Mark Shea for the verses from Proverbs.


David Mills is a senior editor of The Stream. After teaching writing in a seminary, he has been editor of Touchstone and the executive editor of First Things. He edits the site Hour of Our Death and writes the monthly “Last Things” column for the New Oxford Review and a weekly column for the English Catholic Herald. He is finishing a book on death and dying to be published by Sophia Institute Press.

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