Speaking Very Ill of the Dead

In our “Legacy of a Jerk” podcast, we discussed (among other things) the injunction against speaking ill of the dead. It featured an interview with a daughter of a woman named Carole Roberson, whose obituary stated that she was “a difficult mother and a horrendous mother-in-law.” That said, the obituary also said that “she will STILL be missed.”

Several readers have now sent us this A.P. article about an obituary for a Nevada woman named Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick. She makes Carole Roberson sounds like an angel.

“On behalf of her children who she abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty and shame that she delivered on her children,” the scathing obituary begins. … [It] was written by Johnson-Reddick’s adult children, whose horror stories prompted Nevada to become one of the first states to allow children to sever parental ties back in the 1980s. …

“Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit,” the obit said. “Our greatest wish now is to stimulate a national movement that mandates a purposeful and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America.”

Six of Johnson-Reddick’s eight children were admitted to the Nevada Children’s Home from 1963 to 1964 after they endured regular beatings, sometimes with a metal-tipped belt, and other abuse at the hands of their mother, Patrick Reddick said. He said he’s had phone calls from “all over the world” about the obituary.

“Everything in there was completely true,” he told The Associated Press on Thursday, describing her as a “wicked, wicked witch.”

He said they wanted to “shame her a little bit” but that the “main purpose for putting it in there was to bring awareness to child abuse … shame child abuse overall.”

Thanks to all who sent the link.


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  1. Jim says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Scott says:

      Understand? Perhaps.

      Accept? Less likely.

      Forgive? Less so.

      Just because we can find a reason things happened, doesn’t make them un-happen or remove the damage from their happening.

      It is possible in this instance that part of the treatment for child abuse will be psychiatric care for abusers, or that more testing will be done on childhood health issues that can result in aberrant adult behaviour.

      That doesn’t remove the damage already done, and difficulty doesn’t remove culpability.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0
    • Patrick says:

      Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and every other genocidal megalomaniac monster throughout history actually just had minor genetic defects and vitamin deficiencies. Those poor souls. How dare we hold people accountable for their actions, when those actions are all on account of their low protein absorption rates among other involuntary maladies?

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      • Gary says:

        On the chance that this absurd comment is an honest opinion, then we dare to hold these sociopaths accountable for their actions for our protection. Regardless of their vitamin deficiencies (really?), they made choices for which there should be the severest of consequences. Imperfection is no excuse for refusing to adhere to the ancient moral standard of treating others as you want to be treated. And we should discipline them according to objective, community standards lest we become like them through revenge.

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    • A says:

      A lot of people will find this offensive, but I know there is a lot of truth in it. Hurtful people are often either damaged through experience or maladapted through an innate chemical mismatch, or both. This chemistry must (have) be(en?) advantageous in some way somewhere or sometime in the ancient past, but causes endless misery here in our present lives.

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      • hanmeng says:

        If that’s the case, then what about those people celebrated for their virtue or heroism? Isn’t it just because their experiences or chemistry made them behave that way? Then let’s not celebrate them for their so-called “efforts”.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1
      • Patrick says:

        Yeah my previous comment wasn’t serious. Wow. Read Jim’s first comment. I was responding to his.

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    • James says:

      I don’t know just how much “brain development” you need to understand about not hurting people. My dogs and horses all manage to learn this, and (much as I’d like to think otherwise) they’re not all that intelligent.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2
  2. Sarah says:

    I completely understand the call to arms against child abuse, but as a born and raised Las Vegan, I hope this won’t be added to our list of famous ‘known-as’ in Nevada…marriage capital, divorce capital, abuse capital?? :(

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  3. Eric M. Jones says:

    There is some Buddhist notion that evil can lead to good, but I favor the Olde West sentiment, “She (he) needs hanging “

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  4. bober15 says:

    Don’t treat people like garbage and maybe someone will write a nice obit for you. If you choose to be a bad person, well, reference the above article…

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  5. RGJ says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  6. brian t says:

    I prefer the term coined by John Oliver (on the Bugle podcast, long before he hosted the Daily Show): the “f**keulogy”!

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  7. caleb b says:

    I prefer when people are honest, even in death. In my uncle’s eulogy, I told the audience of about 5, “he wasn’t well liked, but you people were more stubborn than he was mean, so I guess that is why you are here.”

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  8. les_b says:

    What if obituaries were regularly checked & truth-tested. Then mandatory publication of amended obits.


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