Laying Tamerlan Tsarnaev to Rest
May 9, 2013 9:38 AM   Subscribe

Funeral home director Peter Stefan: "This is what we do.... I'm burying someone who is dead." While protesters demonstrate in front of his funeral home, creating a burden for local law enforcement, Peter Stefan works the phones to find a cemetery willing to accept Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body and field media inquiries. Meanwhile, Tsarnaev's body is washed by his uncle in preparation for burial. No cemeteries agree to accept the body and plans to inter it at a prison fall through. Ultimately a "compassionate individual" steps forward so the saga can come to an end.
posted by carmicha (172 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
"We are not barbarians, we bury the dead."

Exactly. Christ.
posted by figurant at 9:46 AM on May 9, 2013 [47 favorites]


On the wall above his desk hangs a red certificate, praising him for burying AIDS victims years before the disease lost its social taboo.

It seems like a small thing, but this is what it means to have character.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:46 AM on May 9, 2013 [133 favorites]


Well, I'm glad a solution was reached. Previously I was of the opinion the gov't should just seize the body for national security reasons and bury it somewhere it wouldn't be found; probably on a disused training range or the zone of exclusion surrounding a sensitive facility. Somewhere nobody would ever stumble upon the site, and nobody could do anything about it even if it was leaked.

Although I saw someone suggesting it get the Eichmann treatment, which I felt wasn't a bad idea either.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:47 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read this article about the situation which was big local news as you might imagine. Thanks for sharing that article.
One of the four members of the state’s board of funeral services, he has built a reputation for caring for the remains of the less desirable: immigrants, the homeless, the poor.

“The buck stops with me,” Stefan says. “Every time we get an unwanted case, I say to myself: If we turn away this body, this family, where are they supposed to go?”

On the wall above his desk hangs a red certificate, praising him for burying AIDS victims years before the disease lost its social taboo. On the mantel above that, a worn plaque from another community group proclaims him the “Gringo Advocate” for his work on behalf of Latinos.
posted by jessamyn at 9:48 AM on May 9, 2013 [40 favorites]


As a Mass resident, I'm kind of Marathoned out. The attention given to this aspect of the tragedy really didn't need to happen from either end.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:48 AM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


“The buck stops with me,” Stefan says. “Every time we get an unwanted case, I say to myself: If we turn away this body, this family, where are they supposed to go?”

What a good man.
posted by rtha at 9:48 AM on May 9, 2013 [22 favorites]


it is so fucked up that this was even a thing.
posted by nadawi at 9:50 AM on May 9, 2013 [54 favorites]


Why not cremated?
posted by Keith Talent at 9:50 AM on May 9, 2013


I wonder if, at any point, a sea burial was considered; that's something that is permitted under Muslim tradition if there's any fear that a gravesite would be desecrated.

However, this kind of stand-up statement that "look, we bury the dead because we are all human beings, even the worst of us" is even better; and if you think about it, it sends a much more powerful message ("oh, so you think we in the US are without morals or values? Well, take a look at this, we even treat the bodies of our enemies with dignity just because it's the right thing to do, so THERE").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:50 AM on May 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


...the gov't should just seize the body for national security reason...I saw someone suggesting it get the Eichmann treatment...

Dude did a bad thing, but let's not get carried away. He's not quite History's Greatest Monster.
posted by DU at 9:50 AM on May 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


Why not cremated?

I think that may be against Muslim tradition.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:51 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why not cremated?

It is indeed against Muslim tradition.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:52 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if, at any point, a sea burial was considered; that's something that is permitted under Muslim tradition if there's any fear that a gravesite would be desecrated.

It might've been mentioned in one of the NPR links - I think that's where I heard it while I was driving home a few days ago - that his family didn't want him buried at sea. I might have misheard or misunderstood, though.
posted by rtha at 9:53 AM on May 9, 2013


DU: Dude did a bad thing, but let's not get carried away. He's not quite History's Greatest Monster.

There's nothing particularly disrespectful about burying the body in an undisclosed location, or cremating it and scattering the ashes at sea; it just prevents there from being a gravesite which could be desecrated or used as a monument.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:55 AM on May 9, 2013


"where are they supposed to go?”

I didn't see in these pieces, but why not Russia? Granted, that would reunite him with his parents while separating him from his wife and child--but I haven't heard much (if anything) from the widow, and the parents have been in the news frequently talking about their son.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:55 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It sucks when people in pain react by wanting to cause pain, but I understand it.

This guy, he knows, he understands, and he does the kind thing anyway. Awesome dude is awesome.
posted by Mooski at 9:56 AM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Admiral Haddock: I didn't see in these pieces, but why not Russia?

I believe it's because of the cost of shipping the body.
posted by troika at 10:01 AM on May 9, 2013


Admirsal Haddock: yes, his mother wants the body returned to her for burial, but I've read that Russian, too, is refusing to permit his burial anywhere inside their borders. (And besides that, his mother wants the US to pay all costs for the shipping, to which the US has said no dice, you want him, you pay.)
posted by easily confused at 10:01 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It might've been mentioned in one of the NPR links - I think that's where I heard it while I was driving home a few days ago - that his family didn't want him buried at sea.

Okay, cool. I only thought of it because I know that's one of the reasons why the government did that with Bin Laden's corpse.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:01 AM on May 9, 2013


The burial is not for him, it's for his family and friends, who have no part of his crimes. Christ.
posted by Harald74 at 10:02 AM on May 9, 2013 [36 favorites]


“The buck stops with me,” Stefan says. “Every time we get an unwanted case, I say to myself: If we turn away this body, this family, where are they supposed to go?”

This is the thing. It's a body now, not the guy who bombed the marathon. This is about his family now, and they've got it pretty tough as it is.
posted by cmoj at 10:04 AM on May 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


Worcester police Chief Gary Gemme talked about the thousands of dollars it was costing his department to protect Stefan's funeral home and added these emotional words: "We are not barbarians, we bury the dead."

A guy I knew in college came from a fishing family and died at sea when his crabbing boat capsized. Years later his mother published a memoir based on her journals. She talks about coming home and drawing the curtains on the windows that overlooked the Pacific Ocean, where Coast Guard boats were out searching for bodies. Her husband came home and opened the curtains; she asked why. He replied, "We're doing what a civilized society does. We look for our dead."

I guess what I'm trying to get at is that the police chief is right and that these things are important to who we are. I think 9/11 is responsible for our current willingness to trade liberty for security, but there is something else deep and ongoing that makes people willing to trade their humanity. I don't know what it is. It's ugly.
posted by compartment at 10:07 AM on May 9, 2013 [24 favorites]


As a Mass resident, I'm kind of Marathoned out.

As a Mass resident who's proud of the comparatively reasoned, comparatively ethical and comparatively intelligent way that we do things here, I am thoroughly disgusted with the idiot protestors and hope they all get crabs.

What fucking difference does it make where you stick some meat in the ground? Tamerlan's dead, he can't care about your fuss. Anyone who made a stink about where he was buried was showboating in the worst possible way, fully aware that a corpse doesn't care about its treatment any more than laundry does. Even the Westboro Baptist Church wouldn't waste their energy on that bullshit.

It's tough to keep your principles ahead of your emotions when your own people embarrass you like that. I had to keep reminding myself that it's never cool for cops show up and start clubbing people even if that would have been viscerally satisfying.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:07 AM on May 9, 2013 [25 favorites]


Anyone who made a stink about where he was buried was showboating in the worst possible way

Charlie Pierce had a good Vanity Fair blog post about this a couple of days ago.
posted by briank at 10:13 AM on May 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I guess we should salt the earth where he ends up as well, and perhaps curse his children to the seventh generation, no?
posted by blue_beetle at 10:13 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "compassionate individual" volunteering to help bury Tsarnaev reminds me of Joseph Arimathea's burial of Jesus. It's not an entirely apt comparison, considering that Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus, but it still takes courage to help bury an unpopular person, which I imagine Jesus was at the time of his death.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 10:14 AM on May 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


What fucking difference does it make where you stick some meat in the ground?

Well, for a cemetery business it makes a huge difference, who wants to be buried in the same place as an infamous criminal? Well, most family members don't anyway. There's also the problem of the nut cases who glorify him, or who think he was framed, make his tomb into a martyrs holy place of worship. Then the ones seeking revenge by disfiguring the grave site. It is radioactive stuff no one wants to touch. Hopefully they found a private property location that remains undisclosed and sign a NDA and so, but still, the person doing it really is taking on a potential problem down the road.
posted by stbalbach at 10:16 AM on May 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I heard an interview with Stefan on the radio, while I was doing dishes, and it made me cry a little. I decided - I hadn't seen a picture of him at that point - that he looks like ColdChef.
posted by rtha at 10:19 AM on May 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Charlie Pierce had a good Vanity Fair blog post about this a couple of days ago."

Thanks for that. He's such an incredible writer.
"Tamerlan Tsarnaev is dead. He is not going to be any more dead if you wave some more signs. He is not going to be any more dead the louder you yell. Your made-for-TV outrage is not going to make him any more dead. Please, I'm begging you. Stop auditioning for yet another national television passion play. Stop demonstrating your willingness to be part of an ongoing freak show. No matter how much fealty you pledge on camera to The Victims or Their Families, he's not going to be any deader. Let his family bury him. Let them bury him wherever they want.

Lee Harvey Oswald has a grave. Albert DeSalvo has a grave. Let them find a grave for this guy. Or leave his family alone until they decide what in hell they should do with his remains. Let's not give ourselves over to the culture of masturbatory empathy encouraged by the dimwits who run our television networks. Stop telling haircuts with cameras how you feel about the whole thing. Stop taking your emotions out for a walk. Stop being part of the great We that our media creates in order to excuse itself for not doing its real job, and for begging us to release the worst angels of our nature in time for the May sweeps.

There is no disrespect intended to anyone if the Tsarnaevs find a place to plant their murderous child."

posted by zarq at 10:21 AM on May 9, 2013 [43 favorites]


side note: after 35 years, journalists still haven't stopped calling people with AIDS "victims". Unfuckingbelievable.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:21 AM on May 9, 2013


I'm glad this ended before any more of our elected officials demonstrated their moral deficits.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:26 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does this mean the protests at the funeral home have actually stopped, or are the police still protecting it? That's not clear to me from these articles.
posted by homunculus at 10:26 AM on May 9, 2013


side note: after 35 years, journalists still haven't stopped calling people with AIDS "victims". Unfuckingbelievable.

They call them "cancer victims" - I don't get it. People with bad terminal diseases are often termed "victims." What's the problem?

Anyway, who the fuck protests burying someone? Regardless of terrible he was, he's dead now.
posted by GuyZero at 10:30 AM on May 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


Dude did a bad thing, but let's not get carried away. He's not quite History's Greatest Monster.
Correction - Dude supposedly did a bad thing...

Let's not just skip the whole Truth and Justice thing, after all it is The American Way.
posted by MikeWarot at 10:31 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


side note: after 35 years, journalists still haven't stopped calling people with AIDS "victims". Unfuckingbelievable.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:21 PM on May 9 [+] [!]


What is wrong with that? After nearly 100 years we still refer to "victims of the Spanish Flu". your comment seems to imply that there was something else AIDS victims should be called...
posted by Gungho at 10:31 AM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I too thought victims would be the least negatively-loaded word to use, since it doesn't have any sort of "you did this to yourself" bullshit baggage that is often implied with AIDS patients?
posted by elizardbits at 10:32 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's not just skip the whole Truth and Justice thing, after all it is The American Way.
posted by MikeWarot at 1:31 PM on May 9 [+] [!]


Not since Obama said about Osama the "justice has been served". Since when is assassination justice?
posted by Gungho at 10:33 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The "compassionate individual" volunteering to help bury Tsarnaev reminds me of Joseph Arimathea's burial of Jesus. It's not an entirely apt comparison, considering that Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus, but it still takes courage to help bury an unpopular person, which I imagine Jesus was at the time of his death.

I appreciate your qualifying the analogy as "not entirely apt."

I'm not a religious believer, but given that I consider Jesus to be a moral exemplar, the reductive description of Jesus Christ and Tsarnaev as "unpopular" people -- as if their actions leading to their "unpopularity" were somehow beside the point -- is seriously objectionable.
posted by BobbyVan at 10:35 AM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


You do have a point, Bobby, but in the eyes of the ancient Romans, Jesus was on a par with Tsarnaev. The court of human opinion has changed somewhat since then, but at that time and in that place, Jesus really wasn't perceived as being all that cool a guy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:39 AM on May 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


MikeWarot: Correction - Dude supposedly did a bad thing...

Let's not just skip the whole Truth and Justice thing, after all it is The American Way.


That doesn't really make sense. He's not guilty until convicted, and we're not going to try a dead man in court, so we just can't ever say it was him without qualification? Despite the mountain of evidence?
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:39 AM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


the reductive description of Jesus Christ and Tsarnaev as "unpopular" people -- as if their actions leading to their "unpopularity" were somehow beside the point -- is seriously objectionable.

Ughh the whole point is that there's no sense in passing moral judgement on dead bodies. Getting all Seriously Objectionable about comparing the dead body of one person to that of another is just playing into this stupid argument.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:41 AM on May 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


in the eyes of the ancient Romans, Jesus was on a par with Tsarnaev.

Time and place, standards change, whatevs. I can't quite wrap my head around comparing someone who urged love and compassion over harsh religious law with someone who murdered many people and crippled many more in the hopes of bringing about a world where harsh religious law is followed without question
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:42 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was typing a response, but EmpressCallipygos basically said what I was going to say. No offense meant, as I also consider Jesus a moral exemplar.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 10:43 AM on May 9, 2013


that there's no sense in passing moral judgement on dead bodies.

So when people gather to put flowers on Hitler's grave, as happens regrettably often in Germany, you think that has no moral aspect? If Nathan Bedford Forrest's grave becomes a pilgrimage spot for Aryan Nations types, you'll think that's ducky?

It's more than a little creepy how many people are tripping over themselves to prove they can be nonjudgemental about mass murder.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:43 AM on May 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Every defendant deserves a lawyer, every human deserves burial. It's simple compassion. What else are "potter's fields" for?
posted by wenestvedt at 10:44 AM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's more than a little creepy how many people are tripping over themselves to prove they can be nonjudgemental about mass murder.

Seriously, how much more judgmental would you like us to be towards a dead body? Should we shoot it? Dismember it? Does everyone affected deserve a chance to stab it? If we cut it into a whole bunch of pieces, will that be sufficient to show that we're opposed to murder?

He's dead. There's nothing left to do except bury the body, like any other dead body.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:49 AM on May 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


Peter Stefan is a local treasure. He's kept his business open for 35 years and counting while the neighborhood around him turned into one of the worst parts of Worcester, taking care of whoever couldn't or wouldn't be taken care of by other parlors. He really, really doesn't deserve the idiots that were protesting outside his business.
posted by xbonesgt at 10:50 AM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


So when people gather to put flowers on Hitler's grave, as happens regrettably often in Germany, you think that has no moral aspect?

Where did you get that? Hitler doesn't have a grave. The Soviets destroyed his remains. The remnants are buried somewhere, but probably not in Germany.

If Nathan Bedford Forrest's grave becomes a pilgrimage spot for Aryan Nations types, you'll think that's ducky?

No, it's gross. But they'll find another place. You can't kill thoughts, no matter how ugly, by destroying icons. This idea has all the validity of radical protestants smashing up the statues in Catholic churches during the reformation.

It's more than a little creepy how many people are tripping over themselves to prove they can be nonjudgemental about mass murder.

That's just the people comparing Tamerlan to Christ. And seeing as how there's nothing to gain from their point, we have to assume they're just engaging in some sort of theoretical liberalism to see how many people they can alienate.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:51 AM on May 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Time and place, standards change, whatevs. I can't quite wrap my head around comparing someone who urged love and compassion over harsh religious law with someone who murdered many people and crippled many more in the hopes of bringing about a world where harsh religious law is followed without question.

The "love and compassion" parts are also to be found within Islam, for one. And for another, Jesus was also advocating an end to the Roman Empire (Jesus also said things like "I come not to bring peace, but a sword"), which I'm sure had the Romans a leeeeeetle concerned.

I also put Jesus above Tsarnaev in the Grand Scale Of Who Is Cool, but I also at the same time understand why the Romans didn't is all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:51 AM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard, the comparison is about the public response to the death and burial of Jesus and Tsarnev, not what the individuals did while they were living. Both individuals were very unpopular at the time of their death. What the individuals did with their lives doesn't matter for the conversation - it's just about burying someone who the general public is angry with. It is a similarity between Jesus and Tsarnev - it doesn't mean they have many other things in common, too.
posted by troika at 10:52 AM on May 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


elizardbits: "I too thought victims would be the least negatively-loaded word to use, since it doesn't have any sort of "you did this to yourself" bullshit baggage that is often implied with AIDS patients?"

Me too.
posted by zarq at 10:53 AM on May 9, 2013


"The only condition is that I do it in memory of my mother who taught Sunday School at the Mt. Carmel Congregational Church for 20 years and taught me to 'love thine enemy,'" he wrote.
I really love Congregationalists. I really, really do.
posted by maryr at 10:56 AM on May 9, 2013


If this thread could not be about Jesus now that would be great.
posted by elizardbits at 10:56 AM on May 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


Jesus Christ, even Jim Jones is buried in his family plot at Earlham Cemetery in Richmond Indiana - and nobody said boo about that. Why is this even a question?
posted by Michael Roberts at 10:57 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oops, sorry elizardbits...
posted by Michael Roberts at 10:58 AM on May 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Mayor Curley: " Where did you get that? Hitler doesn't have a grave. The Soviets destroyed his remains. The remnants are buried somewhere, but probably not in Germany."

You're right, of course.

Hitler's parents' grave, though, became a destination of sorts for Aryan Nation folks for a while. They would leave flowers, plaques and other stuff. Eventually the family had the headstone removed so people would leave the grave in peace.
posted by zarq at 10:59 AM on May 9, 2013


On the "Aids victim" thing, I've seen it argued a) that the word creates the implication of there being both guilty and innocent ways of contracting Aids; b) that it defines someone wholly as a sufferer of a disease, obliterating the rest of their personality; and c) that it implies defeat and a lack of hope in fighting the disease.

I'm not sure how far I agree. And of course c) becomes a bit irrelevant – as does the preferred "person living with Aids" terminology – when you're specifically talking about people who have died.
posted by oliverburkeman at 11:05 AM on May 9, 2013


Dead bodies have no moral...thing we, the living, put on them. In and of themselves, they are nothing but dead bodies. It is not the dead body that chooses to have people come leave stones or flowers or bitter words over its grave. That's on us, living people, and it's a choice. It isn't required by our biology or by any law.
posted by rtha at 11:07 AM on May 9, 2013


It's more than a little creepy how many people are tripping over themselves to prove they can be nonjudgemental about mass murder.

I'd say that's a lot less creepy than deciding that you needed to go out and protest because a funeral director buried a dead body. Getting worked up about stuff like this bothers me because it suggests that the person is prioritizing demonstrating to the world that they are angry over anything that actually matters.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:08 AM on May 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard, the comparison is about the public response to the death and burial of Jesus and Tsarnev, not what the individuals did while they were living.

Sure, but as stated above, dead bodies have no particular moral claim outside of who they were while alive. If you really think who they were in life is irrelevant to how they're treated in death, then why not simply cremate the body? After all, he's no longer a Muslim, since he's dead, so why respect any tradition?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:09 AM on May 9, 2013


If you really think who they were in life is irrelevant to how they're treated in death, then why not simply cremate the body? After all, he's no longer a Muslim, since he's dead, so why respect any tradition?

Because - as someone stated above - the traditions surrounding death are for the sake of the next of kin.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:10 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


dead bodies have no particular moral claim outside of who they were while alive

The moral argument here, I'd say, is that it does something bad to us if we start violating the norm that dead human bodies should be treated with a minimum of respect.
posted by oliverburkeman at 11:11 AM on May 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Sure, but as stated above, dead bodies have no particular moral claim outside of who they were while alive. If you really think who they were in life is irrelevant to how they're treated in death, then why not simply cremate the body? After all, he's no longer a Muslim, since he's dead, so why respect any tradition?

These are fairly unusual views about the value of the human body after death from an historical point of view and from the point of view of what many people believe today.
posted by Jahaza at 11:11 AM on May 9, 2013


His body has been entombed. He's not necessarily buried. Right?
posted by de at 11:12 AM on May 9, 2013


"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons." -- Dostoevsky

History will judge him as one of America's most infamous terrorists. Were he alive, he would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Permitting family members to conduct funeral rites in accordance to their needs and traditions is a small inalienable mercy. While I'm willing to admit that there's a bit of room for debates on the issue of the death penalty and supermax prisons, denying family burial observances crosses the line from retributive justice to inter-generational guilt. And that's not a line we should be crossing.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:12 AM on May 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


I vote cremate and bury in the waves during the American Idol finale. Enough people will be distracted so that by the time they notice, it's already done.
posted by Renoroc at 11:17 AM on May 9, 2013


(I think in many ways the criminal justice system does cross that line, but those are serious problems, not cases to be emulated.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:17 AM on May 9, 2013


I vote cremate and bury in the waves during the American Idol finale. Enough people will be distracted so that by the time they notice, it's already done.

Agreed, but first we'll have to build a time machine to take us back to 2007.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:25 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


While I'm willing to admit that there's a bit of room for debates on the issue of the death penalty and supermax prisons, denying family burial observances crosses the line from retributive justice to inter-generational guilt. And that's not a line we should be crossing.

Hear, hear.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:29 AM on May 9, 2013


This sort of issue arose on Six Feet Under once. Fisher & Sons were asked to handle the funeral of both a workplace shooter and one or two of his victims. And they did it, arranging matters so that the mourners would never realize that the related funeral was also happening at the same funeral home. Rico didn't want to, but David overruled him, saying Fisher & Sons had never declined a funeral and they weren't going to do it now, because everyone has the right to bury their dead, regardless of who the dead person had been in life. I thought he was absolutely right, and I'm so glad to see that there are real life funeral directors who act on that principle.

See also Antigone. This isn't a new issue.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev's family should be allowed to bury him without anyone creating problems for them. I hope they bury him somewhere privately so that his grave will neither be desecrated nor celebrated, and so that resources won't be wasted in protecting the grave from either.
posted by orange swan at 11:33 AM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


As I told a Boston cabbie a few days ago, I'd prefer it if we had cremated the body, got a few victims to piss on the ashes, and dumped 'em somewhere in the Atlantic.

Since our current regulatory framework seems to mandate that we honor the wishes of his family, and provide him a burial befitting his membership in the "religion of peace", I guess an anonymous grave is the best we can hope for. If its location is soon disclosed, however, I will cheer every act of desecration that will inevitably occur.
posted by The Confessor at 11:36 AM on May 9, 2013


I did not appreciate the way local elected officials were inserting themselves into what's supposed to be a pro-forma bureaucratic process: the processing of burial permits. Where was the respect for rule of law that we're supposed to have? What right does a town mayor have to decide, without further justification, that his town is going to refuse a burial permit if one is properly filed? The "city manager" of Cambridge and the other town heads that did this should be ashamed of themselves. They're supposed to serve the law, not the mob.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:38 AM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Damn this regulatory framework that mandates we act like dignified adults. This world would be a lot better if there were just more grave desecrations. *too annoyed to be anything but sarcastic*
posted by glhaynes at 11:43 AM on May 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


According to Google, Adam Lanza was buried in an undisclosed location. He killed 27 people and 20 little first grade children. Some cemetery somewhere must have accepted him

I honestly fail to see why this is an issue. Tamerlan is dead. If I were dead, I wouldn't care if I were buried next to Tamerlan or in the same cemetery, because I'd be freakin' dead. What difference does it make? Especially if it's an unmarked, or untruthfully marked grave? As far as sending him to Russia, who exactly would pay for that? Sending bodies overseas is an incredibly expensive endeavor - over $10k I believe. If the family can't afford to do so (and it doesn't appear they can), should taxpayers foot the bill?

The more we talk about this, the long it's an issue, the more the terrorists win by causing us to flip out. Just bury him and put him, and the issue to rest.
posted by raztaj at 11:44 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since our current regulatory framework seems to mandate that we honor the wishes of his family, and provide him a burial befitting his membership in the "religion of peace", I guess an anonymous grave is the best we can hope for. If its location is soon disclosed, however, I will cheer every act of desecration that will inevitably occur.

Desecration will both teach a lesson to that dead guy and really let the healing start. Good plan!

And your snide use of "religion of peace" neatly encapsulates the ugly motives behind the protestors. I didn't get into that angle-- I figured that if we left it unsaid, someone would come along and casually reveal their bigotry. And it's more effective to let people see it unsolicited than to make accusations.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:44 AM on May 9, 2013 [25 favorites]


He's not quite History's Greatest Monster.

Does Jimmy Carter still hold that title or has Obama edged him out definitively?
posted by octobersurprise at 11:44 AM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I will cheer every act of desecration that will inevitably occur.

that says more about you than it does about the dead guy or his religion.
posted by nadawi at 11:46 AM on May 9, 2013 [30 favorites]


that says more about you than it does about the dead guy or his religion.

Tramp the dirt down, amirite?
posted by BobbyVan at 11:55 AM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ha! That's a good point, BobbyVan, considering how much discussion there was on the blue about the glorious righteousness of celebrating Thatcher's death just a little while ago.

Regarding this, here's some history about the burials of various terrorists and murderers. The above-mentioned Jim Jones burial was not nearly so uncontroversial as pretended.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:57 AM on May 9, 2013


The problem was a poisoned mind and spirit. What, exactly, would descrating the meat suit Tsarnaev's misdeeds wore prove? (Aside from certain people's proclivities for torture-porn, that is.)

More to the point: the opposite of love is indifference, not hate. (Source: unknown.)
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:57 AM on May 9, 2013


I will cheer every act of desecration
/facepalm

/flagged for basically being an asshole example of why people hate the US.
posted by Blue_Villain at 12:00 PM on May 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


I guess this answers my question:
After publicly announcing that the terror suspect’s body had been moved from the city, police removed the barricades they had installed around the funeral home on Main Street today.
Now maybe Stefan and the other folks at the funeral home will have some peace.
posted by homunculus at 12:03 PM on May 9, 2013


Ha! That's a good point, BobbyVan, considering how much discussion there was on the blue about the glorious righteousness of celebrating Thatcher's death just a little while ago.

Actually, that's a more apt comparison than you'd think - The Confessor is from the greater Boston area, and my inclination is to cut those directly affected by things like this a lot of slack because the emotions may be somewhat more raw.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:04 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


So the reason I get angry at/disappointed with people who don't want us to bury our dead in this case is that the guy doesn't seem like he was a monster, it seems like he was an incredibly stupid child with some incredibly stupid ideas about the world. That's not something to hate, it's something to pity.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:07 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Confessor: " Since our current regulatory framework seems to mandate that we honor the wishes of his family,

Human decency does that. Anyway, we're not honoring the wishes of his family. They want the body sent to Russia.
posted by zarq at 12:07 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's ugly, really ugly, to indulge in childish revenge fantasies against a corpse. You're not showing this guy anything. He is not there to be humiliated, or hated. It doesn't reduce any of the pain the person who once inhabited that corpse caused. It doesn't undo the tragedy. It just makes people look petty and small and determined to find an excuse to do something hateful because they've turned a tragedy into their own personal excuse to prance around proclaiming how big and tough they are. By trying to hurt a corpse, or the family of the person that corpse used to be. Yeah, big tough guys, making it harder for a little girl to go to her dad's funeral. She's what, 2? That'll show her, yeah! Shouldn't have had a murderer dad, kid!

And you know, the Jesus-corpse comparison is apt; his whole thing was loving the worst people, the ones who didn't deserve it. Who would he side with in this situation, the undertaker or the angry mob?
posted by emjaybee at 12:08 PM on May 9, 2013 [16 favorites]


This whole thing was a complete fucking disgrace. All of those cemeteries which turned the body away should be ashamed.

There are plenty of infamous criminals buried in US cemeteries. There are plenty of religious zealots buried in US cemeteries. Tamerlan Tsarnev's dead body is not a national security risk. His dead body is thoroughly dead. He was a permanent resident (i.e. green card) of the US and his family is here.

So when people gather to put flowers on Hitler's grave, as happens regrettably often in Germany, you think that has no moral aspect? If Nathan Bedford Forrest's grave becomes a pilgrimage spot for Aryan Nations types, you'll think that's ducky?

I'll judge the living people for their morals, their actions, for choosing hatred and the veneration of violence. The dead people in the ground aren't doing anything or controlling anyone. The existence of their graves isn't converting anyone into a neo-nazi.
posted by desuetude at 12:09 PM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Since our current regulatory framework seems to mandate that we honor the wishes of his family, and provide him a burial befitting his membership in the "religion of peace", I guess an anonymous grave is the best we can hope for. If its location is soon disclosed, however, I will cheer every act of desecration that will inevitably occur.

Wow. Really, dude?
posted by KingEdRa at 12:10 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


> As I told a Boston cabbie a few days ago, I'd prefer it if we had cremated the body, got a few victims to piss on the ashes, and dumped 'em somewhere in the Atlantic.

"We" who?
posted by desuetude at 12:15 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "The Confessor is from the greater Boston area, and my inclination is to cut those directly affected by things like this a lot of slack because the emotions may be somewhat more raw."

You and I are both New Yorkers and lived through and experienced 9/11 as natives. Do you think people should have given us a pass if we had expressed similar bigotry, condemning all Muslims for the acts of a few extremists back then?

I don't.
posted by zarq at 12:15 PM on May 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


Mayor Curley

The intent was not to single out Islam as undeserving of the label "religion of peace", except insofar as its apologists have chosen to adopt and exploit it. In truth, I don't think any religion deserves to be called one of peace. Even if one could be found with a peaceful genesis and perfectly innocuous texts, its power would soon be marshaled for unsavory aims.

Empress Callipygos

Your forbearance is very much appreciated, but I am certain there are other people in the Boston area - victims, even - that believe as do the majority of folks on this thread.

Whatever it is that compels me to anger and a wish for (even purely symbolic) vengeance, I'm pretty sure that it's just on me.
posted by The Confessor at 12:16 PM on May 9, 2013


I wonder how folks on this thread will react when the Thatcher grave desecrations start.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:28 PM on May 9, 2013


As I told a Boston cabbie a few days ago, I'd prefer it if we had cremated the body, got a few victims to piss on the ashes, and dumped 'em somewhere in the Atlantic.

When the cabbies start telling you things, you're entitled to a NYT column. Or so I'm told. By cabbies.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:30 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


So is there some kind of wild-eyed, probably Faux/Koch-induced teabagger belief that Nancy Pelosi wanted him buried in Arlington?

(I was looking at the FB pages of a couple people who'd written some horrible sh*t on Gabby Giffords page, and read this among their crazy rants.)

Just thought I'd share this daily dose of ManyOfYourFellowAmericansAreNuttierThanAPecanTree.
posted by NorthernLite at 12:30 PM on May 9, 2013


In truth, I don't think any religion deserves to be called one of peace. Even if one could be found with a peaceful genesis and perfectly innocuous texts, its power would soon be marshaled for unsavory aims.

I'm with you on that thought. But you if you're really an equal opportunist, you need to be careful about singling a particular one out for violence, no matter how angry you are.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:31 PM on May 9, 2013


Your forbearance is very much appreciated, but I am certain there are other people in the Boston area - victims, even - that believe as do the majority of folks on this thread.

Oh, I wouldn't be surprised - I was one of the people joining anti-war rallies in Union Square about 3 weeks after 9/11 despite having heard the damn crashes as they happened, so I totally get that a lot of victims would also be simlarly compassionate.

But that's kind of my point - the feelings of New Yorkers right after 9/11 were really, really damn complex, and some of them even changed a whole hell of a lot in the weeks and months following. We were all processing some heavy, heavy shit. And that's why I also understand that the people in Boston and its environs are also similarly processing some heavy, heavy shit - and that's why I'm inclined to give you, or anyone directly affected, a pass when it comes to reactions to this incident for the nonce.

I hope this doesn't sound dismissive or "oh, you'll change your mind"; it's not meant like that. It's more like, I have a hunch everyone is going through a lot of different feelings at the moment and they're all fighting to have their say; because that's the way it was with me. I said things I later regretted, I said other things I am glad I said. But I was glad when people gave me the time and space to sort out which was which in the long run, and so now I try doing the same.

I mean, I disagree with you like whoa, but I'm not gonna write you off as a bastard or anything, at least not just yet.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:32 PM on May 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Considering how much vandalism, drunkenness, theft and desecration occurred at Père Lachaise (where Jim Morrison's grave is) the collateral and attractive nuisance argument isn't limited to those perceived as villains.

I don't know why someone's family who has a grave there should be made to suffer anymore than they should suffer simply for having someone adjacent to Tsarnaev.

I'd say, is that it does something bad to us if we start violating the norm that dead human bodies should be treated with a minimum of respect.

Exactly this. It's the same impulse to torture, to extract vengeance instead of justice, same impulse that feeds acts of terrorism.
Anger and fury exists in all of us. We all feel rage when someone causes us pain and we all want to return it in kind.
But embrace that and you embrace the real enemy.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:35 PM on May 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Confessor: " Whatever it is that compels me to anger and a wish for (even purely symbolic) vengeance, I'm pretty sure that it's just on me."

I get the anger and what you're feeling. I really, really do. I understand the sense of violation, and the pressing need to lash out. I've been there.

But here's the thing. After 9/11 pretty much my entire city felt that way. Thousands of our friends/family/neighbors had been murdered and our lives had turned upside down. And innocent Muslims were attacked by people looking to vent their rage, because the real targets of their fury were dead and gone, or hiding in Afghanistan and unreachable. Idiots who couldn't tell the difference between Muslims and Sikhs beat the crap out of innocent people on the streets of Queens and Brooklyn. It was insane. What's worse, reportedly Sikhs have endured hundreds of hate crimes in the US in the ensuing years, too.

I wouldn't presume to tell you how to feel about this. Sincerely. But I do feel very strongly that we have to be careful about condemning an entire people for what is essentially an accusation of guilt by association, even though they had nothing to do with this tragedy.
posted by zarq at 12:41 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't presume to tell you how to feel about this. Sincerely. But I do feel very strongly that we have to be careful about condemning an entire people for what is essentially an accusation of guilt by association, even though they had nothing to do with this tragedy.

It was my city too, Zarq, and that's exactly why I'm cutting the guy some slack right now for not being 100% able to do this....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:52 PM on May 9, 2013


And I fear I"m turning into one of those really tedious "everything is about 9/11 now" people so I'll shut up. Sorry, y'all...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:52 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "I also put Jesus above Tsarnaev in the Grand Scale Of Who Is Cool, but I also at the same time understand why the Romans didn't is all."

Is that the "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" thing? Because that's moral relativism and that's bullshit.
posted by gertzedek at 12:54 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


So is there some kind of wild-eyed, probably Faux/Koch-induced teabagger belief that Nancy Pelosi wanted him buried in Arlington?

Hmmm.
It [Arlington} was also the home of the leader of the armed forces of the Confederate States of America, and denying Robert E. Lee use of his home after the war was a valuable political consideration.

strange.
posted by clavdivs at 12:55 PM on May 9, 2013


gertzedek, I think that is a helluva accusation and jump to make.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:58 PM on May 9, 2013


Lee Harvey Oswald has a grave

Which has an interesting story of its own.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:58 PM on May 9, 2013


People are comparing Jesus to a jihadist and I'm the one making jumps?
posted by gertzedek at 1:02 PM on May 9, 2013


We're not barbarians.
Situations like this one and a few of the comments in the thread are a timely reminder that a substantial minority of humans are basically barbarians, and to ask ourselves what exactly we are going to do about that fact.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:05 PM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


But I do feel very strongly that we have to be careful about condemning an entire people for what is essentially an accusation of guilt by association,

Let's just step back a moment and note that no one on this thread is talking about "condemning an entire people." They're talking about condemning the actual guy who did actual killing.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:06 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


No-one directly compared Jesus to a jihadist. They compared the anonymous provider of a burial location to Joseph of Arimathea, a person who also did what he did out of compassion, and at the risk of criticism, intrusion, and physical harm from people very much like the protestors in this case.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:09 PM on May 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


People are comparing Jesus to a jihadist and I'm the one making jumps?

people are comparing the burial rituals of people who weren't favored by the general population and government at the time of their death.
posted by nadawi at 1:10 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thing where someone mentions two people in the same sentence and others instantly start complaining at the outrageousness of those people "being compared"… is that a new thing? I feel like I see that constantly these days and it's infuriatingly detrimental to discussion.
posted by glhaynes at 1:12 PM on May 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Like, enough that I want there to be a name for that "fallacy" so it can be shut down quickly and easily.
posted by glhaynes at 1:15 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


desuetude: Tamerlan Tsarnev's dead body is not a national security risk.

See, I disagree with that. I think it has a very high risk of being dug up and/or desecrated, which radical clerics will hold up as an example of American hostility to Islam. If not, I think he might get turned into some kind of monument by radicals. As such, I think the best option is to bury him in an unmarked grave in an undisclosed location; it's not against his religion, so it can't be used against us, and it avoids all potential problems.

I would have had the government do it, simply because I think they could have done a very secure job of it (have a small team of trusted individuals do it, keep the entire matter classified, and put the body on inaccessible land) but having Peter Stefan do it is fine too, as long as the location stays hidden.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:15 PM on May 9, 2013


This thing where someone mentions two people in the same sentence and people instantly start complaining that those people are "being compared"… is that a new thing? I feel like I see that constantly these days and it's infuriatingly detrimental to discussion.

This thing where someone doesn't read the comment that explicitly uses the word "comparison."
posted by BobbyVan at 1:17 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not that people are saying that they're being compared that bothers me, it's that there's this implication that this "comparison" of two people, one good and one bad, is somehow absurd and inappropriate. As if the person was saying "they're morally equal."

Anyway, I'm stepping down now as I've probably already derailed more than I should have.
posted by glhaynes at 1:20 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anyone who made a stink about where he was buried was showboating in the worst possible way

People go to mourn at cemeteries. Maybe people can mourn properly knowing the body of a murderer is near their loved one's gravesite. Maybe they're worried that their place to process their grief has an enormous distraction there.

Where are death row murderers buried?

Burying the murderer at an undisclosed unmarked cemetary plot wouldn't be a big deal. Just make it a secret. I don't see harm in that. There are probably plenty of bad and evil people already buried in the cemetery for crimes unknown to the general public.
posted by discopolo at 1:22 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder how folks on this thread will react when the Thatcher grave desecrations start.

Can't speak for anyone else, but I'd say that the vandals involved should be prosecuted when it happens. It's not about the person who's buried there, nor is it about how I, or anyone else, consider their political and moral legacy.

It's about the principle that graveyards *as a whole* are sacred spaces and not the place to vent my spleen about whatever politics I'm raging about. And I mean sacred not only in the sense of minimally appropriate respect for the religions of the people who mourn there, but sacred in the sense of that I don't want to live under a social contract where vigilante recreations of the Cadaver Synod are an acceptable form of political protest.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:27 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: " It was my city too, Zarq, and that's exactly why I'm cutting the guy some slack right now for not being 100% able to do this...."

*nod*

I'm just saying there are good reasons to keep things in proper perspective.

EmpressCallipygos: "And I fear I"m turning into one of those really tedious "everything is about 9/11 now" people so I'll shut up. Sorry, y'all..."

There are definite parallels. FWIW, I don't think you're derailing the thread or anything.
posted by zarq at 1:30 PM on May 9, 2013


I've been following this story with particular interest. As a funeral director, I've buried the bodies of people who have done horrible horrible things in life. I've buried murderers, rapists, pedophiles, many people who've been put to death by the state of Louisiana. I've buried Klansmen and their families. I've buried drunk drivers AND the young victims they've collided with.

I've tried to treat them all with the same level of respect and dignity. Kudos to Peter Stefan for being an exemplary servant of the living and the dead. His professionalism and grace have helped many people through their darkest hours.

Shame on the cemeteries who turned this body away.
posted by ColdChef at 1:31 PM on May 9, 2013 [74 favorites]


Where are death row murderers buried?

I serve a lot of the families who have loved ones who die (or are put to death) by Angola prison. Many of the bodies are unclaimed and are buried on the prison grounds. Others make a point of noting, "He may have died there, but he's not going to stay there." They get buried or cremated in much the same way as anyone else.
posted by ColdChef at 1:33 PM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think Tamerlan's daughter should damn well have a place she can put flowers on her father's grave.
posted by maryr at 1:36 PM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


The reason the analogy between this guy and Jesus is cogent is because (as I understand Christian scripture, which is admittedly not much at all) by refusing to bury Tsarnev we are indicating that we might refuse to bury Jesus, too. Basically we treat the worst of us with the same dignity and respect as we do the best of us, because we are all, every last one of us, from monsters like Thatcher to violent morons like Tsarnev to incarnations of the divine like Jesus, deserving of that same dignity and respect.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:39 PM on May 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


A story about grave desecration:

Years and years ago, I was working one of my first funerals and it was a doozy. It was a service for a murderer who (among other things) killed his girlfriend, escaped from jail, took a hostage, killed his hostage and then killed himself. His body was turned away by several funeral homes until his family came to my father, hat in hand. My dad agreed to conduct the services and I was asked to assist him. (Buy me a drink one day and I'll tell you all the things that happened at this particular funeral. It was truly bizarre.)

After the funeral was completed and the body was buried, we were preparing to leave the graveside when a state trooper's car pulled up. Before I realized what was happening, I looked over and saw two state troopers standing over the grave and pissing on it. I was probably 17 years old and too stunned to react. They went and spoke to my dad and then drove off. Dad stood there shaking his head. He said they'd told him that they were two of the officers who first arrested him. It'd been their grim duty to pick pieces of his ex-girlfriend out of the treads on his pickup tires. They also found parts of her on the bottom of his boots. And while I think what they did to that grave was juvenile and frankly a moot act, part of me understands their reasoning for doing it.
posted by ColdChef at 1:43 PM on May 9, 2013 [18 favorites]


The reason the analogy between this guy and Jesus is cogent is because ...

There's no need to speculate. The reason is right there in the book in Jesus' own words:
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
posted by jedicus at 1:54 PM on May 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


The reason the analogy between this guy and Jesus is cogent...

Despite a few quibbles with your phrasing/descriptions, I actually agree with the overall thrust of this comment, Buick. I simply hope that as we acknowledge our shared humanity with Tsarnaev by burying his remains with decency and in accordance with his Islamic faith, we never forget the great evil he perpetrated or the victims he killed or maimed. [My main objection to the Jesus comparison was the glib observation that they were both "unpopular."]

I have to say that the resolution of this situation seems like the most just for all concerned. Tsarnaev has been buried, but in an undisclosed location away from Worcester.
posted by BobbyVan at 2:01 PM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos

I feared dismissing your gesture of forbearance because it truly did touch me, and I did not want my reluctance to accept your framing confused with a dismissal of the conciliatory spirit in which it was offered.

(Is that even coherent? Gods, I'm tired; I should probably just stop now.)

When the cabbie brought up the subject of the bombings, I hesitated to say anything about them. I live on the North Shore - in Salem, not Boston - and I don't even know anybody who was injured in the attack. When the bombings happened I wasn't even in the state; I was on a road trip in Maine.

But I'll never forget entering the International Motel in Calais after a few too many hours spent on the road (had I been more intelligent I would have stopped in Houlton), and seeing the news. I was so tired that everything seemed to register in stages: bombing, Boston, marathon, and finally Copley Square.

I ran into some problems with my teeth a few years ago. I didn't take care of them, and they stopped taking care of me. For the space of like a year and a half, I took the 450 bus into Boston about once a week on average to get root canals, fillings, extractions, and dentures at the Harvard Dental School on Longwood. When I did so, my usual practice was to ride the 450 to its terminus at Haymarket Station near the North End, and walk from there across town to the Longwood Medical Area, reversing this trip for the way home.

Invariably, my route would take me down Boylston Street and through Copley Square, where the bombings happened. I'd eat a swordfish chop at Atlantic Fish or Abe & Louie's, or order a flight of charcuterie or a serving of foie gras torchon at Sel de la Terre (which has since closed) in the Mandarin Oriental. Just around the block, on Newbury Street, I found a chocolatier that sells some of the most exquisite truffles known to man.

It's hardly an exaggeration to say that I love the city, and Copley Square stands near the heart of what I love about it.

But of course this "connection" of mine is trite when compared to that of anyone who lost a limb or a loved one in the bombings. If anyone should have the right to voice anger and call for reprisals on a dead man's corpse, it should be one of them. I said as much to the cabbie, but he told me that the bombings had affected everyone, and I had as much right to my own reaction as did anyone else.

You Can't Tip a Buick, jedicus, others

The argument that the worth of a person and of a culture is best measured by how they treat their refuse, as opposed to their treasures, is one I've used too many times myself to easily dismiss.

While infringing on Tamerlan Tsarnaev's dignity and that of his relatives who saw fit to give him a proper muslim burial by desecrating his gravesite is sorely tempting - and I cannot promise not to feel some satisfaction if it does occur - it is deeply, deeply wrong.

Thank you for your patience in dealing with this meltdown.
posted by The Confessor at 2:03 PM on May 9, 2013 [16 favorites]


Among them are Paul, an unassuming embalmer with a passion for organ music,

Is there any other kind?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 2:21 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I found myself rethinking some things when the Thatcher comparison came into this thread. Cause of course I've thought it might be fun to desecrate the grave of that murderous old beast.

ColdChef's story made me think about what it would be like to actually do it, though. To piss on her grave. And how pathetic and tiny and gross that act is, how utterly ridiculous it is to act like a child in the face of the enormity (and I am using the word in its original sense here) of death.

Thatcher's acts are over, even though we still feel their effects, and so are Tsarnev's, even though likewise we still feel the effects of his horrendous actions. But the people, they are gone, and even though they were scum their absence (or maybe Absence, with a capital A like that) still feels like the empty socket where a tooth used to be. Bury them both with the dignity they deserve, in a grave that marks our respect for their gone-ness (I'd say "passing," but that word has been worn down by overuse), and accept that justice or injustice are almost meaningless when put up against what a grave represents.

I do think sometimes it's okay to dance on a grave, but only if you're a good dancer and only if you know what you're doing.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:54 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


In that spirit, YCTAB, I've long entertained the notion of finding Preston Brooks' gravestone and hitting it repeatedly with a cane.
posted by The Confessor at 2:58 PM on May 9, 2013


I don't know if I've ever urinated on someone's grave, but I've paid respects at quite a few of them.
posted by ColdChef at 3:12 PM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can understand the concern that, if people know where Tsarnaev is buried, the cemetery will be disrupted and vandalized and such. That said, civilized people allow the dead to be buried, and the protests outside the funeral home turn my stomach.
posted by sarcasticah at 3:13 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


So is there some kind of wild-eyed, probably Faux/Koch-induced teabagger belief that Nancy Pelosi wanted him buried in Arlington?

An Air Force veteran symbolically offered up her Arlington grave site (something she doesn't have the authority to do) on a local TV station.

I'd guess from what you saw that the story was posted to one of the thousands of IMPEACH NANCY PELOSI fan pages in existence.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:52 PM on May 9, 2013


I want there to be a name for that "fallacy" so it can be shut down quickly and easily.

You are right to put the word in quotes, as it is not a fallacy but a failure of vocabulary. "Compare to" and "compare with" mean two different things.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:35 PM on May 9, 2013


This is one of the problems that comes with privatising things. Cities used to have so-called potters' fields for burying indigents and other people who would not receive a private burial. My understanding is that this is now usually contracted out: the city or county pays for the body to be buried at a private cemetery. This works well enough most of the time, but occasionally - like now - it turns out that private businesses can't be forced to provide their services.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:38 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stefan is known in Worcester as an advocate for those in need, but it is unclear what ­fuels his passion for the dis­enfranchised. He’s reluctant to discuss himself, quickly changing the subject with a shrug of his broad shoulders and a wave of his hand.

I find it quite sad that a person's sense of doing the right thing - the basic decency/humanity/compassion - is something that needs to be explained at all, and especially with a phrase like "it is unclear what fuels his passion for the disenfranchised".
posted by vidur at 5:07 PM on May 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


As for as the desecration of Tsarnaev's grave goes, isn't it proper under Islamic rules for tha grave to be UNMARKED, "known but to God"?
posted by easily confused at 5:35 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why this guy, this grave?

There are quite a few Americans alive right now each of whom have directly caused the deaths of thousands of innocent humans - some of them men who cannot leave this country for fear of criminal prosecution for their involvement in these deaths. These are rich and respected men who live in the lap of luxury, but their crimes are never put in front of them - indeed, it's considered gauche to mention them - no one's going to be demonstrating at their funerals and if they tried, they'd no doubt be arrested.

So it's certainly not the magnitude of the crime that is causing the reaction.

Perhaps it's killing American innocents - but as was mentioned above, they buried the guy that murdered dozens of American children and teachers, and no one seemed to care.

My theory - once the whole "security state" machine turns on, America isn't satisfied until there is maximum payback - once the boots have hit the ground and troops are running around with machine guns there must be maximum, complete revenge - just killing the person isn't enough, you have to make the body completely vanish so there is nothing left, just like the reported fate of Bin Laden.

I probably shouldn't try to overanalyze it - it's just another symptom of the angry madness that continues to grip the country.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:40 PM on May 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I thought this reaction was neo-medieval and that the people who objected really wanted to revive burial in unconsecrated ground, or throwing the body down the Gemonian Stairs, or impaling the head on a pole and letting dogs eat the rest. Barbarians.

One of the reasons suicide bombers do their thing (a very subsidiary reason) is, that if they are successful, there's no body left to desecrate.
posted by bad grammar at 5:50 PM on May 9, 2013


I find it quite sad that a person's sense of doing the right thing - the basic decency/humanity/compassion - is something that needs to be explained at all, and especially with a phrase like "it is unclear what fuels his passion for the disenfranchised".

Seriously. "This human's humanity is... bewildering!"
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:28 PM on May 9, 2013


(As an aside, the "flowers on Hitler's grave" fantasy is possibly a misremembering of a report concerning the grave of Hitler's parents. That grave did have flowers placed on it by Neo-Nazis, and eventually the tombstone was removed at the request of a descendant of Alois Hitler, who was getting too old to tend the grave and did not like the idea of it being a focal point for Neo-Nazis.

However, Hitler's parents are not really the same as Hitler. Nor were they not buried, so I'm not sure that is an ept comparison.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:35 PM on May 9, 2013


(Also - and it worries me slightly that I know this - if memory serves the Russian intelligence service retrieved the body, and eventually buried it under a parade ground in Magdeburg in East Germany. It and the other bodies retrieved from the bunker were reportedly cremated in 1970 and flushed into a nearby river.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:51 PM on May 9, 2013


That doesn't really make sense. He's not guilty until convicted, and we're not going to try a dead man in court, so we just can't ever say it was him without qualification? Despite the mountain of evidence?
-- Mitrovarr

Who decides what evidence is true? Normally we have the court system sort it out, and arrive at a generally accepted version of "the truth". But here we have a lot of assertions, a lot of weird things going on with security contractors, "security drills" where they were working the exact same scenario, and other things to cast strong doubt on any narrative created, no matter if it comes from the media, government, or some "conspiracy nuts" on the internet.

The cops made damned sure one of the two patsies isn't going to face our justice system, and they've made a pretty good mess of the remaining one.

I don't see how justice will ever happen for the victims of this crime at this point. They'll have to settle for vengeance. And I'll estimate the odds that the real criminals have been named are no better than 50% at this point.

Cast your aspersions on me for having doubt at this point, but we're supposed to be a country of laws, and of presumed innocence. All the Jack Bauer mode propaganda of the last 10 years seems to have done the trick on most of the population.

I've never liked the TV show "24" since realizing what it really is, and have a strong aversion for that type of substitution of hate in the place of values like justice and liberty.
posted by MikeWarot at 8:04 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


These protesters are the face of anger, self righteousness and lack of compassion and empathy for others. They are the mirror image of the people they hate, and just as wrong. They don't seem to understand how their own pig-headed intolerance helps fuel the endless cycle of violence.
posted by nowhere man at 8:54 PM on May 9, 2013


I'm not on the side of the protestors, but "just as wrong"? I disagree, based on their respective actions.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:57 PM on May 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Perhaps a poor choice of words. I mean they are similarly confused. The difference between someone who'd deny a family a burial out of spite and someone who would kill innocent people out of spite is the act of violence. Which is significant. But both acts are motivated by the same thing: anger.
posted by nowhere man at 9:05 PM on May 9, 2013


Lots of people are angry at lots of things. The willingness to personally commit violence is a pretty big goddamn difference. Only Christians think "adultery in your heart" is the same as adultery, and even they aren't really that silly.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:33 PM on May 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


> See, I disagree with that. I think it has a very high risk of being dug up and/or desecrated, which radical clerics will hold up as an example of American hostility to Islam. If not, I think he might get turned into some kind of monument by radicals. As such, I think the best option is to bury him in an unmarked grave in an undisclosed location; it's not against his religion, so it can't be used against us, and it avoids all potential problems. I would have had the government do it, simply because I think they could have done a very secure job of it (have a small team of trusted individuals do it, keep the entire matter classified, and put the body on inaccessible land) but having Peter Stefan do it is fine too, as long as the location stays hidden.

The corpse itself is not a national security risk. The corpse is not threatening the nation's security. The corpse is going to quietly decompose without consideration for anyone's feelings in the matter.

The memory of Tamerlan Tsarnaev can be defiled or made a martyr whether his grave is desecrated or not. The refusal of his body by cemeteries or any governmental "handling" of his burial is, if anything, assigning him the problematic significance that you say that you want to prevent.
posted by desuetude at 10:44 PM on May 9, 2013


Your forbearance is very much appreciated, but I am certain there are other people in the Boston area - victims, even - that believe as do the majority of folks on this thread.

Don't have much to add other than I'm a Bostonian, I live a block and a half from the second blast site, and I believe that the decision of what to do with his body belongs to his family. If it is indeed impossible to ship the body back to Russia, Tsarnaev's body deserves the same respect as any other human. As others have mentioned, it's a human body being put to rest - the person who inhabited it is long gone.

Also just putting in a note that I had an errand to run on Boylston St yesterday and *every* casual conversation that I heard was about the Marathon. Sure, it's the scene of the crime, but it's been almost a month and it's still fresh and raw. You would absolutely never know by looking - there are no memorials up anymore (there was one for a while at the second site, and there might still be one in Copley - it was raining yesterday and I was in a hurry, so I didn't swing by) - Forum is still boarded, but all other businesses are open as usual. But still, under the appearance of normalcy, the vibe is still absolutely one of shock. Most of the conversations I was hearing were "I can't believe it" and "Why would anyone do that?" I heard one woman say to a man "I can kind of understand serial killers, but not this. What was the POINT?!"
posted by sonika at 4:01 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


sonika, I'm sorry you and your neighbors are going through this. Accept a hug from a mefite far away.
posted by toastedbeagle at 4:50 AM on May 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it's killing American innocents - but as was mentioned above, they buried the guy that murdered dozens of American children and teachers, and no one seemed to care.

Andrew Kehoe?

Burial:Mount Rest Cemetery
Saint Johns, Clinton County, Michigan, USA
Plot: Paupers section, northwest corner of cemetery (unmarked)

"There was no mass nor mourners at his burial, as he was childless and then friendless. His wife was buried separately in another cemetery under her maiden name."

Thats right my Lupine friend, you don't defile or refuse burial, you just bury the thing and get on with life.
posted by clavdivs at 8:02 AM on May 10, 2013


I can kind of understand serial killers, but not this. What was the POINT?!

Weird.
posted by Wood at 9:14 AM on May 10, 2013


Well CNN just blabbed that the guy was buried in Doswell, Virginia, right down I-95 from my hometown. For those who aren't from Virginia the only thing of any consequence in Doswell is the Kings Dominion amusement park.

Doswell is in Caroline County which is pretty rural and conservative. Just like you'd expect, the people down there are bouncing off the walls already with the facebook comments, talking about desicrating the grave. As if that was going to do anyhting except promulgate more of this "insulted my honor" bullshit that keeps the whole thing going.

So yay, I get to be embarrased by morons in my home state again. Thanks a lot CNN - you idiots.
posted by smoothvirus at 10:49 AM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


CNN isn't alone; the Boston Globe posted an article on the matter earlier today, and I am trying - trying - to react as I should, and not as I want. I'm trying to accept, for example, the Muslim organizations' claim that volunteering to take custody of that monster's corpse as a private organization in no way constitutes an endorsement of his crimes.

I would not take such great offense if it had been a prison burial; indeed, I think this situation would have been best resolved if he'd been buried there. Prisons are where we keep our societal trash (insert boilerplate about wrongful convictions, petty drug crimes, and your favorite reformed murderer angling for commutation), and trash is what Tamerlan Tsarnaev surely was. A prison burial would have been fitting.

I don't think that I have ever in my life experienced such obvious and profound cognitive dissonance. When I tried to put words to it I found myself quoting Romans 7:15, one of the few verses I remember from a religious childhood... although I think the context of that verse belies the manner in which I use it.
posted by The Confessor at 11:45 AM on May 10, 2013


Confessor -

Seeing that you are from Boston, I can appreciate the anger. I was living in Arlington less than a mile away from the Pentagon on 9/11.

But I don't understand why the burial is offensive. The police already killed the guy. He got what he deserved.

Of course, after 9/11 there was nothing left of the terrorists at the Pentagon but ashes. Had they been buried in some unmarked grave in a public cemetary in Northern Virginia somewhere I really would not have cared.

BTW as a resident of NoVA (and I grew up here too) I live in a very diverse neighborhood and in fact have some friends here who are Muslim, who are some of the kindest people I know. I'm sure they were just as horrified as anyone else at the Boston bombing.

I may catch some flak for this but when Seal Team 6 killed OBL, I drove to the White House to join in the victory celebration. There were American Muslims there, wearing burqas, celebrating, because they hated the son of a bitch just as much if not more than I did. I witnessed this with my own eyes.
posted by smoothvirus at 12:09 PM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


On a more practical note, Tsarnaev has been dead for several weeks now. Where is his body being held and how can it practically be stored for an indefinite period of time? It seems to me the decomposition process would make a significant push to some form of resolution at some point - from what I understand, bodies don't keep very well.
posted by sonika at 12:30 PM on May 10, 2013


I'm trying to accept, for example, the Muslim organizations' claim that volunteering to take custody of that monster's corpse as a private organization in no way constitutes an endorsement of his crimes.

Well, that's just what I assumed. Just like the Catholic Church will provide confession, absolution, and burial for anyone, no matter how horrible the acts they may have committed. And I'm also a bit embarrassed, that they had to step up because we couldn't do what was needed.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:52 PM on May 10, 2013


His body is no longer being held in storage, it's been buried in a Muslim Cemetary in Caroline County, Virginia. The Free Lance Star in Fredericksburg is now running a photo of the grave on their website. According to them it's within sight of a roller coaster at Kings Dominion.

The Caroline County sheriff is also asking residents to stop calling 911 about the burial. (!)
posted by smoothvirus at 12:56 PM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a Virginia resident, I've got to admit I'm VERY surprised not to see our tea-bagger attorney general, Cuccinelli, on the news sticking his face into this mess.

Oh, and Sonkia: funeral homes usually have giant coolers that hold multiple caskets; my own father was stored for almost nine weeks before his scheduled burial at Arlington.
posted by easily confused at 3:28 PM on May 10, 2013


I'm trying to accept, for example, the Muslim organizations' claim that volunteering to take custody of that monster's corpse as a private organization in no way constitutes an endorsement of his crimes.

If it helps, it seems unlikely that Peter Stefan or Police Chief Gary Gemme's desire to see Tsarnaev buried stemmed from an endorsement of his crimes.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:52 PM on May 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Okay, it looks like Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has sent out a press release, saying his office will be 'looking into the legality' of burying Tsarnaev here in Virginia. Cuccinelli himself has not made any press appearance about this, which must be absolutely killing his publicity-seeking ass --- but then, he's currently running for Va. govenor, and while he has the tea-baggers securely in his pocket, he's probably trying to look at least slightly fair-minded in the interest of getting the moderate vote.
posted by easily confused at 7:36 AM on May 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have more concern for those who lost their lives to this man. I have more concern for those who were wounded, who lost limbs, who will forever have Patriots Day mean something else to them year after year.

This man lost his "right" to any burial this past Patriots Day by his own actions. He should be cremated and flushed down the toilet and forgotten about for all time. He is simply not worth anything more than that.
posted by a3matrix at 10:27 AM on May 11, 2013


He's dead. He doesn't have rights. His next of kin do, though, and hundreds of years of tradition and custom and law say that his next of kin and, more broadly, his faith community have both a right and a duty to inter his remains in what they consider to be an appropriate manner.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:12 PM on May 11, 2013 [5 favorites]



I have more concern for those who lost their lives to this man. I have more concern for those who were wounded, who lost limbs, who will forever have Patriots Day mean something else to them year after year.


I can't understand this. It doesn't do anything to those people to have the man's remains dealt with in a way that seems appropriate to his family. Flushing things down the toilet doesn't do anything for them. If anything, consider that it just brings more unnecessary attention to this man to do all this protesting about the ultimately normal and understandable issue about what to do with his remains. It's just causing more angst for the people who are actually having to deal with this on an administrative level. While still doing nothing for the victims. There is so much you can do for victims of violence that is actually constructive that I can't understand how people mean the "tear em apart" rhetoric to be helpful at all.
posted by sweetkid at 4:22 PM on May 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can't understand this.

It gives cover for indulging in hatred. Giving in to a good angry hate can be a way for coping with the world, especially in situations where you feel powerless. God knows I've done it before. But it can feel kind of dirty, so it helps to portray it as being in service of showing concern for others, particularly those who are weaker or more defenseless. It's kind of similar to saying "Won't somebody think of the children?" when defending gender prejudice.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:49 PM on May 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Everything You've Been Told About Radicalization Is Wrong
According to Horgan, though, that's just not how it works. "The idea that radicalization causes terrorism is perhaps the greatest myth alive today in terrorism research," he says. "[First], the overwhelming majority of people who hold radical beliefs do not engage in violence. And second, there is increasing evidence that people who engage in terrorism don't necessarily hold radical beliefs."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:30 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


> I have more concern for those who lost their lives to this man. I have more concern for those who were wounded, who lost limbs, who will forever have Patriots Day mean something else to them year after year. This man lost his "right" to any burial this past Patriots Day by his own actions. He should be cremated and flushed down the toilet and forgotten about for all time. He is simply not worth anything more than that.

If you care about him so little, then why do you have such strong opinions about what "should" happen to his remains?

The man lost his right to anything, seeing as how he's really, really dead. His family, who did not kill or maim anyone, has NOT lost the right to bury his body and mourn their loss. For crying out loud, he has a young daughter.
posted by desuetude at 10:10 PM on May 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


when Seal Team 6 killed OBL, I drove to the White House to join in the victory celebration.

Why? I might catch flak for this, but I have zero qualms about killing. But I don't get a charge out of causing suffering or death.
Release, I understand. Hatred, sure. But I've always thought such things exist because most people live in an uncertainty of what is necessary.
Some people live their lives such that it's necessary to kill them or they will cause far more people suffer and die.

Sometimes it's not as immediate or as clear as we would like. But I think a great deal of the urge to celebrate someone's death comes more from a feeling of impotence. And perhaps from some illusions we hold about the world. Some people live like they, or someone they love, or hate, will never die.

There's no point in seeking revenge against the dead. They're no longer there.
Making them dead, that is another thing entirely.
But it's been my experience that working against their works, neutralizing their ability to destroy, is far better.
Killing is easier, but it doesn't really end the thing you actually want to eliminate.

Not that killing isn't sometimes that work too. But giving that attention to mere necessity.... I don't know how many people talk about Jesus, God, whatever, and forget the fact of air, or the sun.
The basic necessities for life to exist in the first place are always taken for granted.

Whatever else exists must be manufactured. That being the case, we can control it within ourselves.
How one does that is up to oneself of course. I have killed people and felt better. On the other hand I have had some epic bowel movements that have lifted my spirits for days.

It's nothing I would predicate my own happiness on though.


There were American Muslims there, wearing burqas, celebrating, because they hated the son of a bitch just as much if not more than I did. I witnessed this with my own eyes.


I remember Gaddafi getting ripped up. Being a different person doesn't make the reaction any righter.
We build the civilization we want. So maybe next time it's your guy who's torn apart by the mob. And we say "hey, that guy shouldn't be torn up!" Well, it's exceptional, they'd say.

Then it becomes a matter of contest. Over what is an exception. But there really isn't any such thing. Your civilization has then decided to rip up corpses and put it on t.v. No exceptions. Just the power to protect one's own exception or not. Which can lead to some antagonism. Triads, gangs, etc., they hit funerals all the time. Mess up bodies. It can get pretty violent too.

So it tends to work better in an egalitarian manner, I think most people are saying. That is - no bodies get ripped up, no exceptions.
Then there's no need for a quarrel among the living.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:28 PM on May 14, 2013 [4 favorites]




I clicked randomly on the Wikipedia list of American serial killers, and got Robert Berdella, who raped, tortured and killed six men, and was buried in 1992 in a regular cementary.

I kept trying to find more, but the grave site search engine had "unknown" for most of the deceased serial killers I searched for.

What I was looking for was whether homegrown serial killers in the US received proper burials without controversy. I suspect they do.
posted by Harald74 at 1:04 AM on May 15, 2013




Wow. That is...sketchy.
posted by sweetkid at 8:30 AM on May 22, 2013


The Killing of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's Would-Be Accomplice Wasn't So Simple

So it turns out the allegedly would-be accomplice may not have had a knife, may not have been willing to sign a confession, and may have been shot by more than one person. Basically, we're pretty sure he's dead and that's about it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:16 PM on May 23, 2013 [2 favorites]




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