STUMP » Articles » Let's Bring Back Damnatio Memoriae » 20 June 2015, 16:18

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Let's Bring Back Damnatio Memoriae  


20 June 2015, 16:18

First, let me explain what I mean.

We can go to the Wikipedia article:

Damnatio memoriae is the Latin phrase literally meaning “damnation of memory” in the sense of a judgment that a person must not be remembered. It was a form of dishonor that could be passed by the Roman Senate upon traitors or others who brought discredit to the Roman State. The intent was to erase someone from history, a task somewhat easier in ancient times, when documentation was much sparser.

Yes, this is difficult to do in the internet age, but it looks like Dan Drezner has the idea of how it’s done:

Another friend, Dalton Tyler, said that [the murderer] had begun talking about wanting “to start a civil war.” But like Mr. Meek, he did not always take [the murderer] seriously.

Mr. Tyler said on another occasion, the two were driving to a strip club by the zoo when [the murderer] saw a black woman, used a racist word and said, “I’ll shoot your ass.”

“I was just like, ‘You’re stupid,’ ” Mr. Tyler said. “He was a racist; but I don’t judge people.” (emphasis added)

I will get back to the “non-judgmental” crap in a moment. What I quoted there was actually a news story quoted by Drezner, and he replaced every instance of [the murderer’s] name with [the murderer].

I approve.

I did this in a prior blog incarnation for some other mass-murderer, and guess what? I can’t even find the post nor any copy, and I’m just fine with that. I barely remember the details of that mass murder, other than some people were blathering about how they understood the murderer’s motives (with an undertone of approval of what the person did), and I can’t even recall if the mass murderer survived. I mean, perhaps this person was killed by cops rather than got brought in. I don’t even remember.

And I’m going to keep it that way.

For those who think they’re “making a statement”, I want all of their personal “statement” obliterated. And even in the age of internet, that can be done… you may think that the torrent of info undermines this goal, but what such a torrent does is effectively hide the info. If prospective murderers for “statements” realize no one will pay attention to either them or their “statement”, perhaps they’ll take up some more modest hobbies, like obliterating the use of ‘comprise’ on Wikipedia.

The guy who burnt down the Temple of Artemis unfortunately was kind of remembered… except it’s not like his name was all that uncommon. It’s like someone destroyed a major monument and all that people could remember was he was called Bob.

And in any case, the arsonist was subsumed by the much bigger event of that year: the birth of Alexander the Great. That’s a name that won’t be forgotten.

Even if Damnatio Memoriae does not reduce the frequency of evil acts done for the sake of publicity, I still think we should not name these assholes. They do it for attention? Well, screw you. You’re not getting attention from me as an individual. You can discuss the issues without giving the perpetrator individuality or a name, and you don’t even have to edit the name to [that shithead] or [fucking loser] but [the murderer], as Drezner did.

Too bad oubliettes are out of style now. And probably unconstitutional.

But we can impose figurative oubliettes based on our own practice, by deciding not to name the specific people who are so hungry to achieve fame via their evil acts. It doesn’t really matter who they are, now does it?

Finally, re: the “do not judge” people comment. I understand someone who is young may not have a lot of judgment to begin with.


The problem is there are a lot of mush-minded Christians who interpret Judge not lest ye be judged line to mean they shouldn’t judge others at all.

I am not the Pope, but I’m pretty sure that is not intended to mean to have no judgment whatsoever. My own understanding is that it means that you need to temper whatever judgments you make with some mercy, with some understanding of normal human frailty (SPOILER: THIS DOES NOT MEAN TO EXCUSE MURDER). The full verse is intimating that in general, one should concentrate on your own personal sins more than those of others. And it’s somewhat intimated that Jesus is referring to venial sins as opposed to mortal sins.


Drezner tries to make it an age thing, but I’ve heard this from much older people as well. This is not a new problem in Christianity, or just general society. That to be “nice”, one must withhold criticism of behavior/thoughts that are clearly unacceptable.

I blame Martin Luther.

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