Margaret Thatcher was a very polarizing figure during her time in public life. Some loved her policies, others hated them, with me falling in the latter category. Following her death, there has been the predictable reaction from some quarters that those who disliked her actions should not say anything bad about her out of respect for her family. Of course, when the dead person is an enemy (such as bin Laden or Saddam Hussein and his sons) their delicate sense of propriety seems to disappear and we had in the US gleeful gloating at the highest levels (see here and here).
It would be boorish in the extreme to (say) go to Thatcher’s funeral and jeer or picket or to send the family notes and messages that say one hated her in life and are not sorry she died or similar actions. That is crossing into the private sphere and besides which the death of anyone is not an occasion for celebration or gloating.
But should the negative aspects of her public life be omitted from the reminiscences of her? If so, then the hagiographers will have a field day talking unchallenged about only the positives, and those who did not live through the times she wielded power would have a wildly one-sided view of her legacy, since it is only in death that such people re-enter the public sphere.
I think that one is perfectly justified in using famous people’s death to dispassionately review their public record, warts and all.
In this clip from the Australian TV show The Chasers, one of the cast members parodies in song the attitude of glorifying in death those whom one despised in life. (Strong language advisory.)