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Osama in the Obits

Patricia Sullivan

The constant tension between families who wish to see their dead relative's life through rose-colored glasses and those of us who insist on a more balanced report (yes, even in the obits) gives rise to some interesting discussions.

I had one last week in which a bereft friend said

"I mean, Osama bin Laden is still out there somewhere, but (name deleted) isn't."

Generally speaking, mentioning bin Laden, or Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin or other nefarious world figures in the same breath as the subject of the story is frowned upon here, unless there's a stronger link between the subject and the criminal. Osama's childhood friend? Sure, that's an exception. The righteous opponent who fought against him? I'm happy to go into that. Not saying that Name Deleted wasn't a better person than bin Laden, but it's off the point.

By Patricia Sullivan |  June 24, 2008; 10:59 AM ET  | Category:  Patricia Sullivan
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