24 November 2012

"Necrophiliac" woman

A couple of days ago, it emerged that a 37-year old woman from Gothenburg was found to have lots of skeletons in her flat, material about necrophilia, photographs of a woman using skeleton parts, e.g., licking a skull. The police entered her flat for some different reason (there was a gunshot) and found the skulls, by coincidence. This Huffington post article (and lots of other newspapers) have the full story as well as photographs from her flat.

The woman was formally charged for the crime of "violating the peace of the dead".

The story reminded me of  "A nadder"'s posting on sexual ethics, claiming that
[n]ecrophilia should be legalised because we don’t have enough organ donors. I’m serious, bear with me. Organ donation rates are abysmal in countries that require people to opt in. Most choose the default (not opting in). Not even from laziness but because people have a cognitive bias of seeing defaults as reasonable, even if they’re ridiculous. The opt-in for donations is a misguided sentiment about human worth. Hundreds die needlessly every day for the sake of human dignity
and that
[t]he only way it would be wrong for the government to make use of your body after death (if you don’t leave instructions to the contrary) is if there was a You that survived death. Otherwise using the harm principle: there’s nobody around to be harmed so it can’t be wrong.
While it is sad that someone would choose to use skulls for sexual practices (yes, I wouldn't want to have her as my friend), I don't see, from a rational point of view, what the crime is. She did not do this in public. She did not share this with someone else who did not want to see it. She (presumably) obtained the skulls and bones legally. (If not, she should be charged for this! I have no clue how one could obtain skulls and bones, but let us assume it is possible...) Now, the argument that she violated the peace of the dead is irrational. It is the only one that may not form the basis of a legal charge, because there is no proof that such peace has been violated.

While I find the woman's practice disgusting, I can't claim we have the right to enter her flat and stop her. If she disturbs the neighbors, yes. There are many other disgusting practices for which people are not charged for crimes. Extreme body modification is such an awful practice. These people pierced a hole below their lips so the can have another exit for their tongues. Of course, they do this to attract attention. (But if we see an African woman with enlarged lips, we talk about different cultural practices which become the subject study of an anthropologist (or a preacher who will seek to convert them to the right faith).)

I think that neither the skeleton-collecting woman nor the people who modify their bodies are commiting crimes. (Compare this to the state: it thinks that the former do commit a crime, but the latter do not.) I don't like either of them and one may wonder if society has to play a role for their decisions, or if it is something in their DNA that makes them behave this way. Be it as it may, a scientific inquiry of these practices is more appropriate than putting them in jail.

No comments:

Post a Comment


What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant