On not speaking ill of the dead

The etiquette has been debated no end in the past week, with Glenn Greenwald and Norm Geras leading the way.  But the passing of film critic Roger Ebert prompts the best response of all, from the Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten:

[J]ournalists often hold back on (or soft-serve) the negatives, however deserved, until a decent interval passes. Knowing just how much time can be a matter more of intuition than science.  But that waiting period is definitely not “one day,” which begins to explain my recent quandary after the death of Roger Ebert, the deservedly renowned film critic, shrewd social philosopher, and indomitable victim of a cancer that had maimed him and stole his voice. I had an Ebert story to tell, and it was a juicy one. But I daren’t write it. He was a giant, and my story would make him look small… But still I did not write. I sulked. I felt sorry for myself, sitting on this story. Ebert has been dead only about a week — still too soon — but now I find myself able to tell it…

You have to read the whole piece to get the moral of the story. It’s pure Larry Sanders, and Ebert would surely have laughed loudest.

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Chief theatre critic for The Times. Twitter: CliveDavisUK Facebook: www.facebook.com/clive.davis.10 Instagram: clivephotos
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