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Father kills his 3 year old daughter. Media coverage, is it appropriate?


Druidess

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Jul 22, 2011
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Something has been bothering me for the last few days and I have hesitated to post as the events are so fresh. However after reading the most recent Irish Times coverage I feel compelled to.

As we all probably know by now, a horrible event took place in West Cork where local farmer Martin McCarthy drowned his three year old daughter and then himself. Apparently he planned to kill his daughter because his marriage was disintegrating and he feared his wife would take the daughter away from him. This was written in a long and detailed explanation note which his wife found and which sparked a search, leading to the discovery of the bodies of father and daughter.

Family in shock as Cork father who drowned his child defends himself in suicide note
Community mourns father and daughter - The Irish Times - Fri, Mar 08, 2013

At the funeral which was today, framed photos of Mr McCarthy and of little Clarissa holding a flower were placed upon the coffin along with a cuddly white sheep.

Chief celebrant, Fr Anthony O’Mahony spoke of the loss in the following terms:
"We never know what goes on in a person’s head - if we did, maybe we wouldn’t be here," said Fr O’Mahony as he remembered the popular farmer and the daughter to whom he was devoted and who clearly lit up his life with her arrival in 2009.

Fr O’Mahony told the packed church with mourners spilling out into the church yard that although God "did not call Clarissa and Martin", now that they were with him, "he will not turn away from them but will look after them."" It is said that Mr McCarthy’s in-law told the funeral congregation how devoted he was to his daughter. The events are spoken of in terms of a 'tragedy.'

I find the sympathetic narrative that invariably surrounds such events, where men and women kill their own children, to be entirely inappropriate. It seems that the basic fact of the matter, that a child or children deliberately had their lives snuffed out, is avoided. It seems that much of the media coverage is referring to the killing of an innocent three year old girl by one of her parents as an 'accident' and a 'tragedy.' In my mind it is neither of these things. Obviously something drove the man to do such an evil thing but the fact remains - he and he alone is responsible for ending the life of this little girl.

Is it really appropriate to speak about what a great father he was and how much he loves his child at the funeral? Is it appropriate for the media to highlight it as a tragedy and an accident?
 

SirTallaghtban

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Feb 20, 2013
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He killed himself and his daughter as he didnt want her taken away from him? Stupid, stupid man.

RIP to the poor child.
 

Mr. Bumble

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Perhaps it is too soon to be wondering about the media's role in this tragic case. Perhaps the people involved should be left alone to try to come to terms with this horror. I hope this topic sinks without a trace.
 

max99

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I would agree with the priest, when he said "We never know what goes on in a person’s head - if we did, maybe we wouldn’t be here''
But to answer your question.. ''Is it really appropriate to speak about what a great father he was and how much he loves his child at the funeral? Is it appropriate for the media to highlight it as a tragedy and an accident?''

It's my belief that it's only appropriate to highlight these tragedies, if we as individuals and a society can learn something from them.
RIP
 
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Morgellons

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What I read in the Independent today kind of shocked me:

Tragic Clarissa McCarthy (3) buried in her father

I don't think this is appropriate either. It's absolving the man of responsibility. It sets a bad moral precedent. I know the Christain ethos is to forgive, but quite honestly I found this weird and morbid.
 

Druidess

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Perhaps it is too soon to be wondering about the media's role in this tragic case. Perhaps the people involved should be left alone to try to come to terms with this horror. I hope this topic sinks without a trace.
That was my initial reaction. Then as I kept reading the media coverage that seemed to skirt around the issue I thought of similar cases of parents killing their child or children. This made me question whether the narrative surrounding such events is actually a good thing? By ignoring it and treating it as a private family matter, we are not helping at all. We need to analyse why and how some people end up thinking they have the right to kill their own kids when events are not going their way
 

Druidess

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What I read in the Independent today kind of shocked me:

Tragic Clarissa McCarthy (3) buried in her father

I don't think this is appropriate either. It's absolving the man of responsibility. It sets a bad moral precedent. I know the Christain ethos is to forgive, but quite honestly I found this weird and morbid.
I feel judgemental saying it, but yes, the man who killed his child is absolved of all responsibility in the coverage. Is this really a good thing? I think not, anymore than glorifying suicide is a good thing. Perhaps by absolving such people of responsibility, more are encouraged to follow suit? I don't know, but like you I find it glaringly weird.
 

westernyelp

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Jan 13, 2011
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Perhaps it is too soon to be wondering about the media's role in this tragic case. Perhaps the people involved should be left alone to try to come to terms with this horror. I hope this topic sinks without a trace.
Burying your head in the sand helps no one
 

Druidess

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Killing your own child just to "get even" with your spouse it utterly wrong. It's as if the child is the murdering parent's possession not a human being with his or her own destiny. I don't think I'd mourn the murdering parent at all, and if s/he was still alive I'd hope s/he got the highest possible sentence.

There is a recent case where a Saudi imam abused and killed his very young daughter (3 or 5 yo - cannot remember). There was such public outrage, even Saudi Arabia, that the royal family did get him jailed rather than just paying a fine.
Yes I read about the Saudi case. He horrifically sexually abused the tiny girl after divorcing the mother and refusing her access and was then released after paying a fine. I am happy to hear that he was actually jailed after the uproar.
 

Mercurial

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Something has been bothering me for the last few days and I have hesitated to post as the events are so fresh. However after reading the most recent Irish Times coverage I feel compelled to.

As we all probably know by now, a horrible event took place in West Cork where local farmer Martin McCarthy drowned his three year old daughter and then himself. Apparently he planned to kill his daughter because his marriage was disintegrating and he feared his wife would take the daughter away from him. This was written in a long and detailed explanation note which his wife found and which sparked a search, leading to the discovery of the bodies of father and daughter.

Family in shock as Cork father who drowned his child defends himself in suicide note
Community mourns father and daughter - The Irish Times - Fri, Mar 08, 2013

At the funeral which was today, framed photos of Mr McCarthy and of little Clarissa holding a flower were placed upon the coffin along with a cuddly white sheep.

Chief celebrant, Fr Anthony O’Mahony spoke of the loss in the following terms:
"We never know what goes on in a person’s head - if we did, maybe we wouldn’t be here," said Fr O’Mahony as he remembered the popular farmer and the daughter to whom he was devoted and who clearly lit up his life with her arrival in 2009.

Fr O’Mahony told the packed church with mourners spilling out into the church yard that although God "did not call Clarissa and Martin", now that they were with him, "he will not turn away from them but will look after them."" It is said that Mr McCarthy’s in-law told the funeral congregation how devoted he was to his daughter. The events are spoken of in terms of a 'tragedy.'

I find the sympathetic narrative that invariably surrounds such events, where men and women kill their own children, to be entirely inappropriate. It seems that the basic fact of the matter, that a child or children deliberately had their lives snuffed out, is avoided. It seems that much of the media coverage is referring to the killing of an innocent three year old girl by one of her parents as an 'accident' and a 'tragedy.' In my mind it is neither of these things. Obviously something drove the man to do such an evil thing but the fact remains - he and he alone is responsible for ending the life of this little girl.

Is it really appropriate to speak about what a great father he was and how much he loves his child at the funeral? Is it appropriate for the media to highlight it as a tragedy and an accident?

What use would it serve framing things in the terms you suggest?
 

runwiththewind

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Good OP as I was thinking the very same thing over the last few days. While tragic, this was a murder, followed by a suicide. It appears that his wife is from the US and is considerably younger than himself. If the marriage was failing, he should have gotten legal advice in respect of the child. The child is an Irish citizen and the chances of the mother been allowed to take the child back to the states would have been very slim indeed. If that was his greatest fear, legally he had a very strong case. He's married to the mother, has been involved with her care from the day of her birth, no court in the land would have allowed the mother to take the child out of the country for good. Plus the fact that fatherhood came late for him. A huge consideration in any legal case.

If it was revenge, well what revenge is greater than murdering her child?

This should have been condemned by the press, neighbours and the priest. Dozens of children have been killed by their fathers over the last 20 years and no-one calls it what it is. It's murder, plain and simple.

The softly, softly approach was used in suicides of the young but more and more priests are rightfully speaking out against it at funerals now.
 
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tigerben

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I always find it strange that children murdered by a parent , been buried with that parent. God I'm sure I could never find that much forgiveness in my heart if it was my husband and my children. Id alway think of the fear they felt and put in that fear by someone who should love and protect them. It's a sorry tale , one that's all to familiar and I wish strength , faith and hope to the mother in these dark difficult days.
 

ottovonbismarck

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Feb 3, 2011
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What I read in the Independent today kind of shocked me:

Tragic Clarissa McCarthy (3) buried in her father

I don't think this is appropriate either. It's absolving the man of responsibility. It sets a bad moral precedent. I know the Christain ethos is to forgive, but quite honestly I found this weird and morbid.
A murderer is buried with his victim. Sad what ever slant you take.


I love my two kids.
 

Druidess

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Jul 22, 2011
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What use would it serve framing things in the terms you suggest?
I haven't suggested framing it within any particular terms. I am questioning the complete avoidance in the media coverage of the fact that the father, who is supposed to love and protect his daughter, murdered her.

As has been stated by another poster, scores of children have been murdered by their parents in similar circumstances over the years. Perhaps the tone in which these events are constructed and categorised is a factor in their continuation?

I believe it is inappropriate and that it fails to address the issue.
 

Druidess

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I know of some recent cases where the child is deliberately not buried with the parent, sometimes in a different cemetery.
if that was my child, I don't think I would want them to be buried forever in the arms of the one who killed her.

Nothing can justify his actions. What he did was unspeakably wrong. 'Wrong' I know is an understatement, I am trying to avoid other adjectives that come to mind.
 

Mercurial

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As has been stated by another poster, scores of children have been murdered by their parents in similar circumstances over the years. Perhaps the tone in which these events are constructed and categorised is a factor in their continuation?
I highly doubt that it plays any factor whatsoever.


What would it achieve if the media were to focus on the fact that the man, who was supposed to love and protect his child, killed her? What would be the point of condemning his actions?
 

optics

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Feb 9, 2012
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God that case was truly depressing and awful for both daughter and fathers family. Reminds me of a case which happened also in Cork of a man killing his two daughters before taking his own life.
 

Druidess

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I highly doubt that it plays any factor whatsoever.
I don't know if you have any empirical or theoretical basis for your doubt if you accept that public perception and media are often factors in how people behave.


What would it achieve if the media were to focus on the fact that the man, who was supposed to love and protect his child, killed her?
Because that is how the child, RIP, died. This man did what is in my view one of the worst things a parent can do to his child - ended her life before it begun. By ignoring it we are hiding from the truth. What purpose can this possibly serve?

What would be the point of condemning his actions?
As a first step to healing the wounds caused, categorising them as very wrong would be a start don't you think? Or have you got some other insight into why a man might do such a thing??
 

runwiththewind

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I always find it strange that children murdered by a parent , been buried with that parent. God I'm sure I could never find that much forgiveness in my heart if it was my husband and my children. Id alway think of the fear they felt and put in that fear by someone who should love and protect them. It's a sorry tale , one that's all to familiar and I wish strength , faith and hope to the mother in these dark difficult days.
That's what I was thinking too. Little Clarissa loved and trusted her daddy and I wonder at what moment did she realize that daddy was going to really hurt her. Think about it, he held her down in the freezing water and it must have taken a couple of minutes. It's horrific. How can any father who murders his own child still be considered a good father? He thought long and hard about what he was going to do.
 
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