Thomas Wictor

On the “Worst Obituary Ever”

On the “Worst Obituary Ever”

Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick died at the age of seventy-eight. One of her daughters authored the following obituary:

Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Aug. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. 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.

On behalf of her children whom she so 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. Her surviving children will now live the rest of their lives with the peace of knowing their nightmare finally has some form of closure.

Most of us have found peace in helping those who have been exposed to child abuse and hope this message of her final passing can revive our message that abusing children is unforgivable, shameless, and should not be tolerated in a “humane society”. 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.

I wasn’t surprised or outraged to hear people on the radio laughing about this. “Worst obituary ever! Bwah-hah-hah!” Our popular culture is becoming coarser, and people try to top each other in swinishness. It began with Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert. They mocked earnestness, as though genuine emotion were something to make fun of. What I’ve discovered is that people often mock what scares them. Think what was done to someone to make him not just afraid of genuine emotion but also have to go out of his way to taunt those who express it. The only emotions tolerated are the negative ones: hate, anger, and contempt.

When feeble attempts are made at expressing positive emotions, they come out as squealing, game-show delirium or puke-making schmaltz. The reason is simple: Many people are no longer quite human. They’re humanoid. How can you express what you’ve never seen or experienced?

Another problem with our popular culture is that people have lost the ability to empathize. They can’t conceive of something unless it happens to them. Well, I’m not like that. I can easily conceive the agony that the author of that obituary feels. Unfortunately, the entire currency of child abuse was squandered years ago. It became fodder for entertainment. There were too many shows that featured overweight hosts holding the hands of someone confessing in horrifying detail what happened to him or her, while the camera filmed weeping members of the audience.

The popular culture got numb and moved on. Child abuse as a topic became passé. Yet the crime still continued, of course. Unabated. Not only that, those who experienced it find that the reaction is now an eye-rolling “Yeah-yeah-yeah. I know. You’re messed up because you were abused.” When Darrell Hammond from Saturday Night Live published his memoir God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m F*cked: Tales of Stand-Up, ‘Saturday Night Live’ and Other Mind-Altering Mayhem, I listened to a local talk-show host play sections from an interview Hammond gave in which he broke down repeatedly. The host and everyone on his show laughed and laughed. And it was genuine laughter.

It’s not hard to figure out why that host and his sidekicks found it necessary to laugh so uproariously at Hammond’s pain. This host isn’t the most self-aware person on earth. He’s revealed a heck of a lot about himself without knowing it. Recently he contradicted his life’s story in such a way that he confirmed what Tim and I perceived about him within a month of his show going on the air. You’ve heard of “gaydar”?

There are other “—dars.” Other members of groups can recognize each other, even when someone is trying to pass for something he isn’t. Can’t fool me, bud.

I was asked in an interview why I won’t discuss my background. It’s not just that it’s too private, or that describing it will distract from the art I’m trying to create. Another reason is that too many people are no longer capable of having a normal reaction to it. I blame our entertainers. Smirky, cynical, weak, frightened, shallow, and cruel, they’ve debauched a vital concept.

So it pains me to say to the author of that obituary, there will never be a day when “a purposeful and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America” will be declared. I’ve had too much experience with those who claim to represent the interests of children to know that this crime will never be addressed in a meaningful way. And now we’re headed toward the final act, which Tim and I predicted years ago: the mainstreaming of child abuse. There are lots of reasons why certain groups want children to be abused in a specific manner. It serves their agendas. The last taboo must be broken.

Too many of us embrace a particularly vacuous nihilism. I understand why the Dadaists felt the world had spun out of control and was no longer worth saving. They’d just seen the worst slaughter in human history. But when safe, wealthy, spoiled Americans want to bring everything down into rubble, I have no sympathy. I once saw a news story about a Congolese man who’d walked across the Sahara, slipped into Italy, and was trying to make his way here. Imagine some young American dope looking up from his iPad and saying to him, “The world sucks, man.” I’d personally hand the Sahara-walker a baseball bat and tell him, “When you’re done, come live with me until we can get you a Green Card.”

All I can say to the children of Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick is I’m sorry. I understand you completely. Ignore everything you hear from everyone, unless they’re statements of unqualified support. Anyone who tells you what you should or shouldn’t do or have done or should or shouldn’t feel is wrong. We’ve turned into a nation of confused, reeling, terrified nincompoops whose greatest concern is that someone won’t like us.

Be strong. You are not alone.

And no, the irony of that clip isn’t lost on me. Jon Stewart was once human. Pity him for what he’s chosen to become.


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