There has been no internal answer, what I offer here is my opinion; it is also the opinion of some of the other members of the team.
Tributes to the dead are tricky business.
Where do you stop and where do you start. Does Bill Gates get a tribute? Knuth? Larry Wall? Matz? John McCarthy? Chomsky? Norvig? Linus? Alan Cox? Bill Joy? Marvin Minsky? Woz?
What about our own community heroes? Does passing a certain rep threshold ensure you get a tribute?
And what about the already dead. Why not respect them?
Where is Turing's 50th anniversary coming up in a few years? Babbage's 140th coming up real soon? Pascal? Von Neumann? Grace Hopper? Dijkstra? Cobb?
We used a feature that was never designed for "dead people tribute" to give out a tribute and now are suffering the consequence. System messages were meant for emergencies, stuff like ... the website is going down in 5 minutes, be warned. That is why they can not be dismissed; that is why they are so prominent.
When the Jobs tribute happened Jeff was away; the decision to put it up was Joel's. Jeff was not particularly happy that it went up, probably foreseeing the slippery slope this takes.
For the record, when this happened I suggested going with a house ad. My rationale was, if this really is that important to you: lose some money. That shows respect. It was countered with a "it looks too cheesy". But even an ad has the same slippery slope. And too, like system messages, it is not designed as a respect dead people feature.
When the Jobs banner went out, I had to spend a whole morning on damage control, ensuring huge blood baths between our members do not ensue and ended up locking a question. Unlike Turing, Jobs was not everybody's hero. Now, people want to have their programming hero to compensate.
And we look bad.
For the record I did support the Jobs message; in retrospect, I think that was a mistake.
I think we should not be in the business of dead people tributes as it gets in the way of providing awesome answers to awesome questions, and brings in politics to a place that strives to stay politics-free.