Thursday, May 09, 2013

"We are not barbarians. We bury the dead." Eventually.

We are not covering ourselves with glory on this.

A funeral director (that's an undertaker if you are old fashioned or plain speaking) in Worcester, Mass., took responsibility for Boston bomber Tamerlan Tzarnaev's corpse on May 1 when the police were through with it. He has prepared it according to Muslim custom (no cremation allowed) -- but no burial site has been found and he's got protestors at his doors.
Peter Stefan is not a stranger to controversy. Apparently he's been through some of this before.
“[Peter Stefan]’s bent over backwards to serve the least in the community for decades,” said Josh Slocum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance.

"He's probably one of the few people with the guts to do the right thing," said Lisa Carlson of the Funeral Ethics Organization. …

"He was the only one who would bury gay men dead of AIDS back in the 80s. He did funerals for slain prostitutes that everyone else treated like some sort of subhuman trash,” Slocum said in an email, calling him “a good man of rare character.”

A 2002 profile in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette highlighted Stefan’s soft heart and the free funerals he had given to the downtrodden – from new immigrants to homeless veterans.

“God must have loved the poor, ‘cause he made so many of them. That’s one of my favorite sayings,’” he told the paper. “Nobody seems to give a crap. That’s why I’m involved, to take care of poor people.”
Worcester's police chief is begging for authorities to clear the way for a burial. "We are not barbarians. We bury the dead."

According to an Associated Press story today,
… none of the 120 offers of graves from the U.S. and Canada has worked out because officials in those cities and towns don’t want the body.
I'm glad to hear there were 120 offers of burial sites, even if local authorities seem to have blocked using any of them so far.

For some reason I find this episode extremely upsetting. Boston is being "strong;" this isn't strong.

UPDATE: Apparently they've accomplished a burial. According to the NY Times:

“A courageous and compassionate individual came forward to provide the assistance needed to properly bury the deceased,” read a statement published on the department’s Web site and read on Thursday morning in front of the funeral home that handled Mr. Tsarnaev’s body.

But in the same article, this episode is still inspiring thoughtless nonsense.

The body presented something of a legal quandary, as the interment of a terrorism suspect is rare on American soil ...

Rare? Really? What did they do with John Brown? Or John Wilkes Booth? Or Lee Harvey Oswald? Or David Koresh? Come on. When people are dead, you bury the bodies, unless you are barbarians.


Sarah Lawton said...

That's my old neighborhood in Worcester. Peter Stefan is a hero and has been for a long time.

Agree with you that this episode was very disturbing. Apparently we were supposed to put the head on a pike and display it for a month?

Funny you should mention John Brown. We visited his grave near Lake Placid, NY just last summer. Local abolitionists put up a fine memorial to him there on his family's farm.

janinsanfran said...

Hi Sarah. You are not the only one who has asked about my including John Brown. I had been thinking about whether he counted as a terrorist -- a post will follow eventually.

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