Layton doesn't warrant a state funeral
Because people liked him a lot, and because he was consumed by a cause in which triumph was contingent on overcoming tremendous odds, if at all, and because he faced up to a terrible illness with courage and dignity.
And because we live in a culture in which traditional mourning rituals dominated by religion have been discarded, but with nothing equally dignified to replace them, we have turned to sentimentality and kitsch to express our sense of loss.
Call it teddy bear grief. Who can forget the hysteria around Princess Diana's death, when a whole nation went slightly berserk with an outpouring of grief that was totally inappropriate and disproportionate. Anger at the paparazzi held responsible for the car crash was soon displaced by anger at the Royal family for their seeming coolness. Hysteria grew over the fact that the flag at Buckingham Palace wasn't at half mast even though no Royal death would have warranted it according to protocol and tradition.
The only adult in the room at that time was the Queen, on holiday in Balmoral, who at first was unaware of the national mood, and when apprised of it, was instinctively repulsed by it. Tony Blair recalled that the Queen "rightly" viewed the public mood as "irrational." But her advisors told her she had to make her sorrow public, and like the good soldier she is, she did, and the anger subsided.
Many politicians took a lesson from that episode. Stephen Harper was apparently one of them. He pre-empted condemnation of his aloofness detachment from human emotion by ordering a state funeral in order to satisfy the teddy-bear grief needs of a nation that has abandoned traditional channels for the expression of communal sorrow.
Protocol was invented for a good reason. Protocol allows people to perform on automatic pilot when stress clouds their ability to think clearly. It's lovely to see the outpouring of affection for Jack, but a state funeral was the wrong decision. It is precisely when emotions run high that cooler heads should prevail. Stephen Harper has made a specialty of being the cooler head in many critical situations abroad. He goofed this time.