Monday, April 20, 2009

Is cannibalism really wrong or just taboo?

Now for something completely different. How about a light-hearted look at cannibalism?

This is just a train of thought that pulled out of the station as I read an article in The Libertarian Enterprise that mentioned "cannibalism" as something that is wrong, and something we should feel guilt over doing. For some reason I balked at the assertion. I can't see any reason to claim cannibalism is wrong in and of itself. As long as you are not devouring the living, it doesn't violate the ZAP as it initiates force on no one. Dead people can not be harmed or coerced or stolen from or defrauded. They are just as dead whether you eat them or not. You are also stealing nothing. Do the dead person's survivors own the corpse? How? Unless a contract of some sort was completed before death I don't think they do.

So, is cannibalism wrong? What about in survival situations? It has happened numerous times, and probably more frequently than is known. Was Alferd Packer a murderer or just a resourceful survivor? Should the "Donner party" have allowed themselves to all die of starvation instead of taking advantage of free meat? What would you do in a similar situation?

Obviously if you kill an innocent person in order to eat him, you have committed a gross violation of the ZAP. But if you are attacked and manage to kill your attacker, why would it be wrong to eat him? Dead thugs don't care what you do to their corpses. Their relatives might care, but the dead guy's body might be restitution in a way and I think you might have a valid claim on it. I wonder if such a consequence might cause more thugs to choose another line of work rather than risk becoming a meal.

Or what if a friend or family member dies and leaves instructions for his or her body to be the main course at a funeral barbecue? Isn't that a selfless offer: to nourish those left behind?

I see nothing necessarily un-libertarian or wrong with cannibalism. It's your turn. So, tell me why it would be unequivocally wrong to eat a human under any circumstances, or why you agree that it wouldn't be wrong under the conditions I laid out. And remember that "legal" or "illegal" are not very good indicators of "right" or "wrong", but are a lazy way for government extremists to try to control behavior. Let's think deeper than that.

Added: Apparently, you shouldn't ask questions like this (link)


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