A new low

The Herald Sun decides to mock a bereaved son for paraphrasing song lyrics in a tribute to his dead mother, just because that son happens to be a convicted murderer. Would any other person who used a line from a song or poem in a death notice be accused of “ripping off” the artist? Isn’t using such lines from songs and poems in death notices in fact so commonplace that it shouldn’t be worth mentioning, unless it is to score a cheap point about how gauche it is to use lines from a pop song instead of from the literary canon (as if they wouldn’t have mocked him for presumption if he’d quoted Keats or Shakespeare)?

The “rips off Celine Dion” headline may be down to a sub-editor, but article author Paul Anderson felt compelled to make the point that Barbara Williams, mother of Carl Williams, used “cheap” champagne to wash down the medication that caused her death. Again, if she’d been drinking Dom Perignon he’d almost certainly be making an issue out of that as well. No wonder this paper is nicknamed “the Hun”.

The various emotional arguments that Carl Williams doesn’t “deserve” to go to his mother’s funeral because of his own murderous acts fail on logical grounds. Sure, the man is an incredibly unsympathetic figure due to his ruthless killings. However, if criminals generally are given leave to attend the funerals of family members, as I believe they are, then Williams too should be allowed to attend his mother’s funeral.

Capricious exceptions to general rules based on emotional outcries are not the hallmark of a society that respects the rule of law. People owe it to themselves to be better than this.



Categories: ethics & philosophy, media

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7 replies

  1. Blimey. From the sound of it he phoned through an obituary notice to be placed in the paper, and they’ve used it to humiliate him. Talk about a total lack of respect for his mother and the rest of the family.

  2. That’s really quite awful. A bit of decency wouldn’t be out of line.

  3. Did you guys read the story about the guy that the police tazered while he was at a funeral? I was livid, but I was in the middle of writing essays and have now lost the link. The police have apologised…AFTER disrupting the entire funeral and menacing other relatives with weapons! Just…WHAT??
    fuckpoliteness’s last blog post..No words…

  4. It seems callously cruel on the part of the Herald Sun. And disturbing for other people too – can they be sure that the personal ads they place won’t be used for casual entertainment?
    Deborah’s last blog post..Cooking with my grandmother: traditional Christmas cake

  5. Good point Deborah. I’d expect a bit of sniggering in the edit room, much the same as I suspect they spend at least some of their day saying ‘they called their child What? And it’s a girl? I bet she’s going to change that as soon as she’s old enough’ etc etc but I wouldn’t expect to see a column in the newspaper about how Mr and Mrs Blo from Campsie have decided to call their daughter Amazonriverflowerpetal or something. They overstepped here, regardless of who he is and what he has done he still have the right to mourn his Mum.

  6. Yes, very good point, Deborah. It’s sheer bogan-baiting, isn’t it?

  7. “People owe it to themselves to be better than this.”
    And the press owes it to it’s readers to be better than this.
    (And I wonder if the Hun would criticize death notices that “rip off” the work of Wycliffe, King James’ committee, etc, or funerals with “Ave Maria”/”Psalm 23″ sung badly… oh… out of copyright… silly me!)

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