An obit for the living

On June 28, the opinion page of Yahoo news ran an editorial by Cynthia Tucker with the title MANDELA’S LEGACY OF FORGIVENESS AND HOPE. It begins as follows:

EDITORS: This is a bonus column to be run in the event of Nelson Mandela’s death.

Um… okay… except for the fact that as of this writing (July 2, 2013) the man is not dead.

Now, I realize that for the most part the obits have already been written (maybe leaving a blank for the date), it’s just that most editors have had the common sense not to publish them. And I also suspect that, with the 4th of July coming up some people may have filed their obits before going away. The thing is that I would also expect someone to be paying attention, especially at a major site such as Yahoo, but this article has been there for five days by now. It is unseemly.

Of course, considering the even more unseemly spectacle of the struggle among Mandela’s future heirs as they jockey for position to inherit what is bound to be a very lucrative empire (going so far as to steal some of their own relatives bones), Yahoo’s little faux pas seems incredibly minor.

I know Mandela is dying, in fact a part of me is surprised by the fact that he is still clinging to life as I write this. The man is 94 years old, and the outcome is inevitable, but he has fought enough, and done enough, to deserve one final bit of dignity: the right to die in peace, and to have his final wishes when it comes to his final resting place honored… that, and maybe that we should hold back with the actual obits for a little while longer.

UPDATE (July 5, 2013): okay, it looks like Yahoo has finally deleted that post.

2 thoughts on “An obit for the living”

  1. Our newspaper, the Press Register, ran the column today (July 7). I came on line to see if I had somehow missed the news that Mandela had died. sigh. I think our newspaper is edited by Univac 3000.

    1. With automation being what it is, I suspect that there were quite a few editors that fell down on the job when dealing with that one. What can I say, technology is great, but only as long as humans don’t check their brains at the door.

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