Walt Disney’s grandniece, Abigail Disney, tweeted a shocking attack on Kobe Bryant Wednesday.
She said: “it’s time for the sledgehammer to come out.”
No, it’s not.
Kobe Bryant’s body isn’t even in the ground yet. This is still as fresh for Bryant’s grieving family, who have lost two of their people, as the day it happened.
The NBA, the City of Los Angeles, and all the fans are still processing, grieving, and remembering Kobe Bryant’s life. This is the time of mourning for all of those who care about a man who just died.
And Kobe Bryant’s death was untimely and grisly. And it was even more untimely for his young daughter, who died next to him. For someone who’s judged Kobe so harshly, Abigail Disney has shown her sense of judgment is questionable.
An uncharitable – though quite possibly correct – view of Abigail Disney’s purpose for tweeting this is she’s writing clickbait. Same goes for the Washington Post reporter who tweeted a link to a 2016 Daily Beast article with a tabloid headline about the 2003 rape accusation.
She tweeted it within hours of Kobe Bryant’s death.
Who knows why someone would be motivated by this purpose?
To get attention? Or score publicity? To virtue signal? Out of morbid curiosity, to see how people would react to such a flagrant disregard for good manners? Just plain meanness, to hurt other people’s feelings – and have truth or women’s safety as an alibi?
But let’s take a charitable approach. Disney and Felicia Sonmez (the Washington Post reporter) would say they’re trying to move the culture toward greater sensitivity for women’s safety and freedom.
Ignoring Bryant’s sexual assault allegation doesn’t just do a disservice to victims — it arguably eradicates the pivotal event of the star’s life and career.
No, the pivotal event of Kobe Bryant’s life – of all our lives – is his death.
There’s nothing more final than death.
And that’s why the custom of our culture for centuries has been:
De mortuis nil nisi bonum
(Of the dead, speak only good.)
The Washington Post observed this rule to the extreme when the leader of ISIS himself died last October. After Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed himself during a U.S. special forces raid, the Washington Post published this headline:
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Islamic State’s ‘terrorist-in-chief,’ dies at 48.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at the helm of Islamic State, dies at 48.
Here’s an excerpt from al-Baghdadi’s Wikipedia page with citations to New York Times, Washington Post, and BBC reports:
Baghdadi would become directly involved in… the genocide of Yazidis in Iraq, extensive sexual slavery, organized rape, floggings, and systematic executions… He directed terrorist activities and massacres… Baghdadi himself was a rapist who kept several personal sex slaves.
Thousands of people mocked the Washington Post on Twitter with the hashtag #WaPoDeathNotice. After the social media storm, they finally settled on:
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48
Maybe the Washington Post took the rule too far on this one.
Having greater sensitivity toward the safety and freedom of women is an admirable goal. But sledgehammers aren’t the right tools where greater sensitivity is needed.
This approach shows no sensitivity toward death and mortal grief. Any movement that dispenses with that is naively radical.
The Daily Beast article Sonmez circulated – and the WaPo article on Disney’s timeline -don’t treat sexual assault with sensitivity either. Abigail Disney’s note certainly doesn’t. What happened in that Colorado hotel room in 2003 is not as clear as she’s making it.
As ESPN reports, even the Colorado DA who prosecuted the case had some humility:
People responded to the news about the helicopter crash in Calabasas in their individual ways, some with memories of basketball and championships but many in the way that Mark Hurlbert of Parker, Colorado, did: by briefly setting aside his personal feelings about Bryant and imagining a family forever broken, by imagining his family going through the same thing as the Bryants of Newport Beach, California.
RIP Kobe Bryant.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.