Former Providence mayor Buddy Cianci died, just as many people throughout his life no doubt wished he would. Cianci used his political power like a club with iron spikes sticking out, marshaling a Providence police force to intimidate and cajole while he enriched himself and his cronies. This isn’t an opinion: Cianci was a two-time felon who allegedly treated his prey the way victims get treated in Quentin Tarantino movies.
Many obituaries are glossing over Cianci’s pathological qualities, instead opting to paint him as a “colorful” character and a throwback to smoky room politics when things were done differently. That’s a disservice to history. At Gawker, Jordan Sargent provides a good corrective to this whitewash, writing: “[Cianci’s] actual record shows that he was a brutal and disgusting gangster, who used the police force as muscle…” Nothing colorful about that, except for the red blood that leaked from his myriad victims. We are taught — and why again? — not to “speak ill of the dead.” But if we are to confront the past we have to know it. If Woodrow Wilson is being dug up for argument at Princeton, how can we let Buddy Cianci rest in peace? Cianci was 74.