Anyone who can read the death of Little Nell...
A commenter here observed, in connection with today's Arizona massacre,
It's hard not to feel for the family of the nine year old girl who was shot and killed.Indeed. That goes without saying. Or rather it ought to go without saying: to go without saying. Each of us should take it for granted -- absent evidence to the contrary -- that our interlocutors are not sociopaths.
Little Nell is a fictional character. One can laugh at the death of a fictional character -- indeed, as Oscar says, there are times when one must. Sentimentality is one thing, real feeling quite another. One of the great missions of the propaganda sector is to confuse the two.
The child who was killed today was not the smarmy Little Nell. She was a real person, and her death deserves some real feeling. Her family and friends will be feeling it. Perhaps it's best left up to them, without the intrusion of some officially-approved and media-promoted public sorrow, whose broadness is the reciprocal of its depth.
There are, and always will be, so many we shall have to mourn, as the poet says. It's a question of respect not to appropriate the sorrow of the people who actually knew and loved this child. In fact, we can go a bit farther: it's a gesture of gross disrespect to turn their sorrow into some kind of political Bloody Shirt.