Inspection- Misery Doesn’t Love Company: Tucson

So, let’s see. Your child was murdered by a madman, your spouse, your brother, sister, parent, grandparent. You have every right to feel miserable, depressed, angry. The President attends a memorial event and gives an uplifting speech, leaving people clapping and cheering. How dare he hold a “pep rally!” How disrespectful! We all know the best thing for these folks is… more misery?

The events in Tucson have been commented on by far too many people: both sides. I’m sure you’re tired of everyone blathering about it. So now I ask you to read one more bland piece of blather?

Well, there’s a side to this no one else seems to be commenting on…

…the America take on death and how we deal with it. Having worked in cemeteries for about 5 years, and been to one too many funerals, nothing sickens me more. Commentators who insist that such things must be somber are not only giving the wrong advice, but adding to the collective depression of those who have lost a loved one. For Christ’s sake, what do these tongue waggers want, that we hire professional mourners that throw themselves on the graves in fits of fake tears, or that everyone, including parents, be more miserable than they already are?

You almost never read the single word I’m about to type in an edition of Inspection. But there’s no other way to put it what I have no respect for…


Of course this, in part, wasn’t really about the laughter, the applause. Anyone with a smidge of sense will tell you they were going to find something to bitch about. If it had been George Bush, Jr., giving the same speech under the same circumstances, they would be applauding and cheering with the rest of them.

If anyone has any doubt now, they too are idiots. Some on the Right haven’t one ounce of shame. They will say and do anything, while lecturing others not to behave that way.

But what about the deeper question about how we treat our dead? We fill them with poison, lock them away from natural decay for a long, long time, inside expensive coffins and outer boxes. I saw one being lowered years ago: silver plated with gold trim handles. I’m sure whomever bought that would think it sick if someone suggested we just let nature take its course.

There is still a pond in the second cemetery I used to work at in Utica, NY, at the top of the hill. You can smell it far away: formaldehyde. So eventually it leaks out and we… “honor…” our… dead…. by poisoning our soil and our water supply? By the time normal decay would have reached that water the soil would have filtered it. And plants grow off natural decay before it gets there. Formaldehyde? Poison: either way.

And to top it off you want to make damn sure all of us are even more miserable?

Excuse me if I don’t stand by that farce. Maybe you want company, or just to make everyone more miserable, but no one should have to join you in either.


Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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