"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster."
-Henry Hill, Goodfellas
Recently, Henry Hill, the infamous mobster who "ratted" out his crew to avoid incarceration and whose biography inspired Scorsese's Goodfellas, died, to which Twitter fans, including well-known comedians and actors, tweeted micro-eulogy after micro-eulogy after micro-eulogy. Many quoted the movie in homage. Some simply wrote, "RIP Henry Hill." Ray Liotta, the actor who portrayed Hill in Goodfellas, even wished his family well. I wouldn't say it was an outpouring of emotion and I wouldn't say I didn't briefly experience nostalgia -I spent many a day after school memorizing lines from Goodfellas and imitating Joe Pesce's f-word pronunciation- but let's have a little perspective, my good people.
Henry Hill was not what one might consider an upright citizen: a) he was abusive to his wife, b) he was a drug dealer, c) he was an accomplice to murder, d) he was abusive to his wife, e) he was a drug dealer, f) he was thief, g) he was a philanderer, h) he was abusive to his wife, i) he was a drug dealer, and j) he probably didn't claim his earnings from the NCAA basketball scandal or the Lufthansa heist as profit.
I'm not saying we should rejoice. It's not like an Osama bin Laden type of death -I rejoiced at bin Laden's demise after living in the chaos and sorrow of New York City after the Towers collapsed- but we might not want to celebrate Mr. Hill. After all, how often does the Witness Protection Program actually de-protect their informants? Their character standards are pretty low. Hill was such an offender that, after reaching his law-breaking quota while under protection, the Department of Justice had decidedly had enough of the Hills and released them back into the wilds of everyday citizenry.
I know, I know...it's bad juju to speak ill of the dead. Perhaps, though, we might use slightly more discretion when paying our respects. Not that we should be happy, just somewhat more selective.