The death of Margaret Thatcher has elicited a global deluge of glowing coverage about her life and legacy. Rupert Murdoch described her as a “great leader” and a champion of freedom. The Australian says she’s the “first lady of liberty“. She’s been portrayed as the prime minister who singlehandedly rescued the UK economy from oblivion and, who gave the Brits confidence in themselves, and who won the Cold War, cementing the dominance of the Free World.

Those who have strayed from this hagiographic script, like Bob Carr, and the protesters who popped champagne corks in Trafalgar Square, have been roundly criticised. Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop accused Carr of a “graceless attack“:

“His decision to make these claims after her death is a crude attempt to slur the reputation of one of the 20th century’s most outstanding leaders,” she said, ordering him to apologise.

Well, we’re not stopping those who wish to remember Thatcher in the fondest of terms while glossing over her waging war on Argentina, sending thousands to the dole queue and calling Nelson Mandela a “terrorist”.

In turn, we defend the right of people to speak out about the darker side of Thatcher’s legacy. Carr has every right to raise this conversation he had with Thatcher. Should we really sanitise and censor the debate on a highly influential former prime minister?

Just because someone has died, and because they were frail and vulnerable in the years before their death, is no reason to censor the truth. Overlooking the flaws of a major figure in public life does a great disservice to history.

If Thatcher really was the bastion of liberty she is being held out to be, surely it is appropriate to defend the freedom of critics to report on and discuss her legacy in robust terms. Guy Rundle offered a nuanced take in Crikey earlier this week.

And for the Andrew Bolts of this world, who are raging against any anyone who dares remember the Iron Lady with anything but fawning adulation, we’ll be watching what you write when Gough Whitlam dies. Will there be uniformly positive coverage then?