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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.