Last week, I wrote about mercy as being a lesson in the Casey Anthony case coverage. Here’s another one that I’m pondering. Filicide. It’s been around for centuries, it happens with alarming frequency in the United States today, and yet it is still one of those elephants in the room that no one wants to talk about.
Filicide? What’s that?
Filicide is Susan Smith and Andrea Yates and Ellen Feinberg and Diane Downs. Filicide – maternal filicide — is the name given to the particular kind of homicide where mothers kill their children. (Paternal filicide happens too, and more on that, later.)
You know about maternal filicide.
1. Meryl Streep won an Oscar for Sophie’s Choice. What was that choice? Filicide.
2. Oprah Winfrey produced and starred in Beloved, based upon the novel by Toni Morrison, where the character Sethe killed her daughter Beloved to keep her from being a slave.
3. Medea (remember, Euripides?) killed her children all because Jason left her.
4. Lois (with Peter) killed son Stevie on an episode of TV’s Family Guy.
In this country today, it’s much more common that we like to recognize. Every community has had its newborn baby found dead in the dumpster or trash can, left there shortly after birth – and lots of those stories reveal a teen mom who tells authorities she didn’t even know she was pregnant. Sure, you’ve read one of those.
What you need to know about maternal filicide is WHY.
Perhaps we’d all be better served if the reality that filicide exists weren’t such a taboo subject. Because then maybe it would be easier for post partum depression sufferers to ask for help. Maybe teen moms might give their newborns to someone rather than dump them.
And, maybe the fixation and for some, obsession, about the Casey Anthony case in the media wouldn’t outweigh every other news story in this country for the past year (except for hurricanes, according to Yahoo!).
For more on filicide, look for an upcoming series of posts (Friday’s Legal Memo) studying the topic in detail and titled “Filicide is Different.”