The family of Robert Kennedy is having second thoughts about housing his personal papers and effects at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library because of lack of attention. The 2,300 boxes of material have been housed at the library for decades, but the family has never signed over control of the materials to the library. Recently, sixty-three of the boxes are going to be opened for a public exhibit while the family has had the materials appraised by Sotheby's.
I say this with all due respect and deference to a man that often did more in a day than I do in a year: Fuck his family. Here's three reasons why:
1) It has been 43 years since the tragedy of his death. I understand copyright and privacy. That is all well and good. If my family wants to search through all the digital crap and paper I leave behind, go right on ahead for as long as you want. Sorry about all the porn, it was a gift. But if they have the American people store those materials on the public dime for almost half a decade, then that crap is now public property and you the family lose your right to look for the Christmas Card Collection in Box 15,487 whenever the hell you want if Skippy Joe Public had it first.
2) He was a public servant. At his highest, he was Attorney General and a Senator. He was a known official of the highest governing body in the land. Many of those documents pertain to the time he did this service, to the point where many are classified. That in itself makes them public documents. Honestly, I do not give a shit what Bill Clinton ate every morning of his presidency, but I love the fact that somewhere there is documentation of each meal.
3) Some of this stuff is classified. As Attorney General in the 1960s, Kennedy dealt with some gnarly stuff: Cuba, Civil Rights, Vietnam, the list goes on. If the family is thinking about selling these materials, what the hell gives them the right to do that? Sure, they are his family but this is our country's information, our history as seen through on pretty influential dude. If he had diary entries about his brothers' Jack and Teddy and how they single-handedly swam the Gulf of Mexico and kicked Castro in the junk (my grandpa swore it happened), then that is our nation's history and should not be up for sale.
Shit, when did I get so patriotic?
Oh, and the whole "lack of attention" the family is claiming? Yeah, bite me. The library offered to name a wing after RFK if only they would sign the materials over to the library. The family balked at the offer, saying that a hallway was not enough. What the hell? Greedy bastards. You get president or a couple decades in the same Senate chair you get a building. At least they did not try to name the kitchen after him.
I am going to hell for that last one, but it made me laugh. [NYTimes]