By Emily Rosenberg
On Oct. 14 the actor Robbie Coltrane, best known for portraying Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter films, died leading to mixed reactions from fans on social media.
While some mourned the loss of the actor who played their favorite shaggy ole character, others threw celebrations tweeting things such as “Rest in p***,” “Rot in Hell,” and that they were happy the actor had died.
Coltrane is known for being one of the only actors from the Harry Potter series who did not defend the transgender community against J.K. Rowling’s continuous transphobic remarks.
When Coltrane was asked his thoughts on Rowling’s remarks in 2020, he said he did not find the remarks offensive and that Twitter waits around waiting to be offended.
The LGBT+ community or anyone for that matter has valid reasons for strongly disliking Coltrane and encouraging people to stop engaging in content that will monetarily benefit him.
As a person who grew up with Harry Potter and identifies with the LGBT+ community, I am sad and angered to see the fictional world which welcomed so many people from diverse backgrounds become exclusionary. It is a shame that the actor who played perhaps the most outcast, yet accepting character contributed to the exclusion.
Coltrane and other bigots are not excused for their words after they died and there is no reason to forgive them. The effects of a person’s discriminatory words and actions leave a painful, lasting stain on those at which they were directed.
However, there is also no reason why reactions to their deaths can’t be more civil.
Directly after a person dies, there are family and friends who are mourning. It is not useful to make public announcements parading someone's loss no matter how much that person’s words or actions offended you.
Ridiculing their death only makes the person who posts the joke seem like they are stooping to the opposing side’s level, overshadowing what the poster truly wants to accomplish - emphasizing the negative impact the dead person had on society. The goal is to acknowledge the pain Coltrane and others caused people and prove how future generations must do better. This cannot be done through memes and puns.
Not to mention, when employers look you up online, they’ll leave with a bad taste in their mouth after they read you’ve been tweeting “rest in p***.”
To make a public statement online, whether you have five followers or 5,000, is trying to make an impact. If you decide to comment on the death of a public figure who impacted society negatively, you could write how you will not be mourning their death, then list bullet points of how the person negatively impacted society and that there is still work to be done.
In these online statements, there should also be comments about the individuals who do mourn the death of these people without acknowledging they caused pain. The mourners of public figures like Coltrane are complacent and are also contributing to the problem.
This type of post is a way to acknowledge the painful impact a person had on society, while expressing that you are not sad they are dead with humility. This will hopefully cause those you reach to stop, think, and even learn something that day, rather than wonder why you are laughing at a dead person.
This is especially if you are on social media with relatives and people across the country who share different views from you.
But either way, death is never an event to take lightly no matter who it is. Our mortality is precious, and is one thing that deserves to be respected because we all share it in common.
There can be a way to celebrate the loss of an oppressive voice without dancing on their grave.