Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A modest proposal

As you know, there are two kinds of people, those who divide people into two groups, and those who don't.
I'm the former.
And one of my favorite divisions is: those who want to control other's lives, and those who don't. I'm the latter.

A good example is the German cannibal case. Some people see it as an obvious great immorality to eat a human, even if you have his consent, and think this should be stopped by law. I don't see why. People's lives are their own.

Of course it should be clear that subject must be in his right mind and consenting. I guess it's a sticky point because most people can't reconcile "right mind" with "consenting to be eaten". But we'd all do well to not equate "abnormal" with "sick" or "sinful", and particularly not with "must be illegal".

I can't imagine why anybody would want to be eaten or to eat somebody. But it's a great big world out there, and personal liberty is one of our holiest ideals, and should be defended even in the face of things we may consider repugnant.



Alex said...

Is this the onset of the Moorlocks and the Eloy?

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

As I recall, it's a long time before those arrive.

Anonymous said...

The seeds of those were sewn before our own time, though.

I'm not sure why anyone would consent to it, unless you could put it in your will or something.

I guess the reason they would outlaw it is because of the problems with determining if someone is in their right mind, and if they really gave consent.

Anonymous said...

depravity and darkness still haunts our world, very plain to see the evil in the human heart.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

It seems clear to me that such "consent" is proof enough of mental alienation. "Self-destructive behavior" and all that.
I believe the law makes it mandatory to treat someone who is blatantly "out of their right mind". Homicide, even of a consenting victim (it is not considered as valid consent in case of dementia) is therefore prohibited by law.

As for eating human flesh, the idea is disgusting to many (including me), but only the means of providing it should eventually be outlawed (I mean murder of corpse theft).
Check the Andes flight disaster story for an extreme reverse argument. Even the Pope made a statement that given the circumstances they were not to be considered sinners. That's telling something!

So, basically, I'll have to agree with the first paragraph of the post. A mental illness requires mandatory help, but we need to think very carefully about how we define it. Recent historical abuses towards homosexuals or soviet dissidents prompt us to think twice about our motivations and the notion of liberty.

Organ donation is a good example of how some social taboos harm everybody. Because thinking about one's possible death is usually perceived as morbid, consent prior to death is much too rare, and thousands of perfectly good organs are buried to rot in a coffin instead of helping the sick.
In Lebanon, merely talking about the possible death of someone who's still alive is a big no-no, almost a taboo, and is always followed immediately but the ritual "God forbid" or similar formulas. As if, literally, the words had the power to draw Azrael's attention on that person to ravish their soul. Superstition? Culture? A bit of both, I guess.

It is not about the consensual things that we need to defend liberty, it's about the things that some/many/most of us wouldn't like. It's always about the difference between what upsets us and what we genuinely can't let happen, and the blurry zone inbetween.
Sodomy is potentially icky. Granted. But in several US States, it is punishable by imprisonment, even between consenting husband and wife. I can think of no better occasion to say: "WTF?!?"

Nobody bloody trusts God to dispense justice on human acts, as if moral zealots were dead-scared ("God forbid") that His pardon is infinite. Who died and made them Archangels with a flaming sword? (Or a lightsaber, it's more in fashion these days.)

There ought to be a law forcing control freaks to be committed in a straight-jacket and treated with pretty pink pills. ):-P
But who am I kidding? THEY would never pass such a law!!!

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

"It's always about the difference between what upsets us and what we genuinely can't let happen, and the blurry zone inbetween."

Very true. I think many people can't even conceive of the difference.