Between consenting adults

by Chris Bertram on December 3, 2003

I see that the German internet cannibalism trial has started. For those who don’t know, the defendant advertised for a willing victim on the internet, cut off his penis (which they consumed together) and then stabbed his victim and dismembered him. Nasty stuff, but philosophically untroubling for those of us who are sufficiently paternalistic to think the law ought to place limits on what adults may consent to have done to them. Our libertarian friends , on the other hand, may find it more difficult to come up with principled objections.

{ 50 comments }

1

Chirag Kasbekar 12.03.03 at 10:19 pm

For that matter, it mightn’t have been troubling for someone like Hayek who does say somewhere that not all contracts should be legally enforcable.

OK, I found a quote:

“Since the time of Herbert Spencer it has become customary to discuss many aspects of our problem under the heading of ‘freedom of contract.’ And for a period of time this point of view played an important role in American jurisdiction. There is indeed a sense in which freedom of contract is an important part of individual freedom. But the phrase also gives rise to misconceptions. In the first place, the question is not what contracts individuals will be allowed to make but rather what contracts the state will enforce. No modern state has tried to enforce all contracts, nor is it desirable that it should. Contracts for criminal or immoral purposes, gambling contracts, contracts in restraint of of trade, contracts permanently binding the services of a person, or even some contracts for specific performances are not enforced.

“Freedom of contract like freedom in all other fields, really means that the permissiblity of a particular act depends only on general rules and not on its specific approval by authority. It means that the validity and enforcibility of a contract must depend only on those general, equal, and known rules by which all other legal rights are determined, and not on the approval of its particular content by an agency of the government. This does not exclude the possibility of the law’s recognising only those contracts which satisfy certain general conditions or of the state’s laying down of rules for the interpretation of contracts which will supplement the explicitly agreed terms.”

I’m not sure what this would have to mean in this case, though.

2

jdsm 12.03.03 at 10:21 pm

To be honest I don’t see what business this is of the law. It’s not like a guy is in a momentary state of depression and tries to kill himself – he responds to an advert for someone to eat him. That amount of planning suggests he knows full well what he is doing.

Whether or not this is grounds for going to the nut house is another matter but criminal proceedings? I don’t think so.

3

Chirag Kasbekar 12.03.03 at 10:21 pm

Sorry, that was The Constitution of Liberty (1960), pp. 230-231.

4

Jonathan Ichikawa 12.03.03 at 10:26 pm

I think there’s room for a genuine libertarian to just accept the conclusion you’re worried about.

5

Nicholas Weininger 12.03.03 at 10:53 pm

Note that one may allow such weird contracts while subjecting them to an unusually high degree of scrutiny. That is, if A claims that B contractually agreed to be killed by A, the law could presume that A is lying, but make the presumption rebuttable (even if difficult to rebut). This would be a pragmatic libertarian rule: the underlying idea is that most of the time these claims are just cover for murder, but there nevertheless should be an out for the rare person whose claim is genuine and who can provide ironclad proof of that.

6

rea 12.03.03 at 11:08 pm

Well, I’m no libertarian, but isn’t the obvious answer that no valid contract was formed, because these two were obviously stark, raving nuts, and therefore not “consenting adults”?

7

Keith M Ellis 12.03.03 at 11:27 pm

Gosh, I tend towards libertarianism, but only from a utilitarian premise, so I have neither a problem with a strong libertarian response to this, nor a problem with a “sufficiently paternalistic [view] to think the law ought to place limits on what adults may consent to have done to them.”

My concern is foremost what is mentioned by Nicholas: how do we verify that someone volunatarily agreed to be murdered?

Secondly, if this were a serious public policy problem, I might from a utilitarian basis illegalize it.

But absent these considerations, I frankly don’t worry too much about this sort of thing and would prefer to live in a society that takes a libertarian position on this matter rather than a paternalistic one.

Is the cutting off of the penis and eating it a big part of the problem here? Because that bothers me even less. Voluntary cannibalism is fine by me, living or dead. (Well, other than BSE-like concerns.)

8

Kieran Healy 12.03.03 at 11:36 pm

I fully expect libertarians to be able to bite the buttock on this one. Bullet! I mean, bite the bullet.

9

John Isbell 12.03.03 at 11:40 pm

Does US law enforce a penalty if you have a companion who agrees to eat his penis with you? What about if you’re the one who amputates it? What about if you just make a gash in their (consenting) arm for a blood oath?
Clearly after that we pass into felony territory here, signed contract or not. Kevorkian seems relevant.

10

Keith M Ellis 12.03.03 at 11:46 pm

Kieran: heh. But, seriously, do you really think they won’t? I don’t self-identify as “libertarian” and my instinct is to find this legally acceptable.

I suppose this is really the sort of issue that separates out the social conservatives who are anti-government (and thus, identify as “libertarian”) from those who are truly libertarian. While there’s a lot of the former about, there’s no shortage of the latter, either. I suspect that were the libertarian-esque blogosphere to get ahold of this topic, there would a range of opinions that roughly divide between those whose moral instincts trumps libertarian ideology, and those whose do not.

11

Damien Smith 12.04.03 at 2:26 am

A simple point: libertarianism need not involve the approval of the actions in question. Libertarians well well disapprove of a lot of private, consensual behaviour; they just don’t wish for the government to do anything about it. The real issue libertarians have to deal with involve collective action problems and negative externalities; disapproval of something, to them, need not count as an externality.

12

Tom T. 12.04.03 at 2:27 am

Our libertarian friends, on the other hand, may find it more difficult to come up with principled objections.

Chris, I see you objecting, but I don’t see you articulating a principle. If you’re going to
make that statement, I think you’re obliged to tell us why, in your view, this falls within the limits of acceptable paternalism while other practices (whatever you prefer: abortion, sodomy, withdrawal of a feeding tube, etc.) do not.

Keith, your comment suggests that you see “libertarian ideology” as independent (and presumably devoid) of moral judgment. Is that meant as a slur, or do you believe that of political ideologies of all stripes?

John Isbell, U.S. law generally permits a person to consent to be battered (else tattoo parlors and professional hockey would not exist), but does not permit a person to consent to be killed (which is why Kevorkian is in jail).

Historically, I believe there was a notion at least in English law that, on some fundamental level, a person’s life belonged to the community. Hence, the land and property of a man who committed suicide were forfeited to the Crown rather than passing to his heirs. Nowadays, I imagine that laws forbidding consent to one’s own murder would be justified on the sort of utilitarian, proof-related grounds that Keith cites. Rea is probably also correct that the law might infer a lack of capacity. Failed suicides often get committed to psych hospitals, after all; the desire for death is clearly perceived in some circumstances as evidence of mental instability. A desire to have a member amputated is a semi-officially recognized fetish (apotemnophila), and I imagine that it could be found to amount to mental illness in some circumstances as well.

As for your specific questions, I’ll leave them as an exercise for the reader. I don’t want to be perceived as offering legal advice to any disaffected self-mutilator who happens to find this site.

13

Zizka 12.04.03 at 3:11 am

The metaethicists, the libertarians, and the various countercultures seem to be competing for the “most counterintuitive” prize. Hard cases make bad law.

14

Keith M Ellis 12.04.03 at 3:40 am

Tom: the point, I think, about libertarianism is that it elevates personal liberty above almost all other considerations. Of course libertarians are moral creatures, and of course their morality informs their ideology. But the ideology _specifically_ disdains the privileging of social conformity (which surely must include moral opinion) over individual liberty in regards to law and government.

One of the problems I have had with libertarians in the past is that, in my opinion, where most of them draw the lines are conveniently conventional. Libertarianism, when coherent with its principles, can be a truly radical ideology with a great many disturbing implications. A good number of libertarians avoid those sorts of difficulties (like this one) and thus reveal their ideology as mostly a convenient truss on which to hang their predispositions.

I have the same objection to moral and cultural relativists, as a matter of fact. They, like the libertarians, can be quite absolutist and supportive of government action when such action is in accordance with their moral intuition. In this way, libertarianism and relativism act, for these sorts of people, as nothing more than a useful rhetorical weapon, a counter-argument against policies of which they disagree…but rarely as a critique of policies they support.

I just had a _very_ long and difficult discussion with my closest friend about this issue—he and I typically are in agreement about most things. Not this. In his view, this dead individual was clearly not capable of sanely consenting to his murder. But it’s not so “clear” to me. I think that standard (of presumed insanity) should be set very, very high.

It just seems to me that the _yuck_ factor in this case is high enough that it is distorting people’s judgment.

15

John Isbell 12.04.03 at 4:13 am

Thanks, tom t., and I loved your ending. That’s about what I’d have guessed, and I don’t see an easy legal distinction between battery/cuts and amputation (except of foreskins). I have no legal knowledge whatever. That I think could be a second line. But people do all kinds of weird things to their or others’ bodies without prosecution: tongue splitting, etc.
I accept assisted suicide, for a very narrow range of cases. This isn’t one IMO. I reserve assisted suicide for those unable to kill themselves, and desperate to die for good reason. I think that’s about where Holland is.
Keith, I believe my arguments here are independent of the yuck factor.

16

tristero 12.04.03 at 5:41 am

Leo Strauss once said,

“If everything is relative, then cannibalism is just a matter of taste.”

17

dsquared 12.04.03 at 8:48 am

Historically, I believe there was a notion at least in English law that, on some fundamental level, a person’s life belonged to the community. Hence, the land and property of a man who committed suicide were forfeited to the Crown rather than passing to his heirs.

Don’t recognise this as ever having been a common law principle. You may be mixing it up with the ecclesiastical prohibition on suicide.

18

Micha Ghertner 12.04.03 at 10:19 am

Why is this a tough case for libertarians? Why would libertarians even want to come up with principled objections? Yes, its disturbing, yes, it violates the yuck factor, but why should any of us care what other people do if they don’t effect our lives in any meaningful way?

The only interesting issue, as I see it, is the one Nicholas mentioned: how does the legal system determine whether or not this act was consensual? It seems likely the paternalists will argue that this act was nonconsensual by definition, because only an insane person would allow himself to be eaten, and an insane person is (supposedly) unable to grant consent.

And of course, by way of reductio creep, this same argument is applied to other areas: suicide, smoking, drinking, fast food; you name it: if it’s fun, sinful, and not entirely safe, the nettling nannies are already trying to ban it.

After all, if these obviously irrational people were as rational and knowledgeable as the paternalists, they would certainly reject such sinful pleasures. In fact, they should be thanking the paternalists for taking such wonderful care of them.

Thank you, paternalists, from the bottom of my heart. Without you, I don’t know how I would keep myself from eating my own penis.

19

Chris Bertram 12.04.03 at 10:56 am

Did I understand you right Micha?

You deployed a slippery slope argument to the effect that banning this would permit the application of slippery slope arguments by others to to cases you find unproblematic? A sort of meta-slippery-slope?

20

Sadly, No! 12.04.03 at 11:21 am

The perpetrator offered this in court yesterday (rough translation mine:)

“I felt completely alone. First my father was gone, then my brother. Later my grandmother died. I had thought that one should be with me, one that would not abandon me. Already as a young boy I dreamed of slaughtering fellow students. It was always about gutting, slitting the stomach, removing the entrails. That’s also how I did it then. … The fact that it is not normal, if someone is willing to be slaughtered, is clear. Or if someone wants to slaughter. But otherwise he was an intelligent man. We drank coffee in the winter garden. … He said ‘cut that thing off already.’ He was wide awake and animated.”

Yikes.

21

Micha Ghertner 12.04.03 at 11:28 am

While I don’t have a problem using slippery slope arguments (especially after reading Eugene Volokh’s article), that is not the argument I was making. There is no need to worry about the slippery slope in this case, because the slope has already slipped. :)

In other words, it comes as no surprise that paternalists will justify prohibition in this case on the grounds that it wasn’t really consensual, because they already use that same argument to justify prohibitions against drugs, suicide, and now smoking, drinking and eating unhealthy food.

It’s not the case that I find something wrong with cannibalism but am willing to bite the bullet (thanks Kieran!) because I am worried about a slippery slope taking hold; rather, I find consensual (the non-tautological definition of consensual) cannibalism unproblematic from a legal perspective. Of course, I still think its gross, and would choose not to associate with those who engage in the practice.

I’m sure Kieran, as a professor of sociology, could help us out in this department. One of the most interesting articles covered in many intro to sociology courses is the story of the Andres Survivors, and the social factors that both prevented some and allowed others to eat human flesh in order to survive.

For those among them who could not bring themselves to eat their own fellow (dead) humans, and starved to death as a result, does their aversion make any rational sense? Does our aversion to consensual cannibalism, to the point that we are willing to use the force of government to ban it, make any rational sense either? I don’t think so.

22

Micha Ghertner 12.04.03 at 11:35 am

From an Econ and Law perspective, consider what might happen if we do punish acts of consensual cannibalism as murder: instead of going to the trouble of finding willing participans, those who have a strong desire to slaughter and eat humans will be much more likely to kill innocent people against their will.

23

Vigilance Matters 12.04.03 at 1:20 pm

I’d be honored if you took part in the poll for my entry on this, at
http://www.vigilancematters.com

24

Nabakov 12.04.03 at 1:33 pm

“Morality has hardly made us better people; but it has certainly enriched our vices.” – John Gray

“The worst thing I ever saw at work? Can’t tell you the name ‘cos I don’t speak German” – from an interview with a member of the Australian Board of Film and Literature Classification (the official Oz censors).

Personally, I reckon what’s been eaten has been eaten and all we can do is savour (sorry) the implications.

Which, I might add, are being well masticated here.

25

Keith M Ellis 12.04.03 at 2:34 pm

“Of course, I still think it’s gross…”—Micha

I wonder why I don’t have the typical aversion to cannibalism? I’m pretty sure that at some point in the past I did. Now I don’t. Maybe it was watching Alive several times? (Most intense movie depiction of a plane crash, ever.)

To me, the cannibalism aspect of this case is almost completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand (should this be considered a crime?). To my mind, it’s an assisted-suicide case.

26

ttam117 12.04.03 at 2:37 pm

I wish the nanny state would just stay out of the way when I get hungry.

27

John Isbell 12.04.03 at 2:54 pm

Eat the state!

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D. Citizen 12.04.03 at 4:29 pm

Echoing what others have written above, I don’t see the conundrum for libertarians. If there was mutual consent, what’s the problem? This really seems to be a question of the validity of contract (from a libertarian standpoint anyway). Admittedly, this is not my cup o’tea, but one man’s poison ….

I think the law & econ point of what sort of incentive absolutely banning such behavior would give to potential cannibals to pursue unwilling victims. Presumably such a ban would raise the search costs of finding a willing partner thus making an unwilling one the next best alternative. Of course this also assumes that the cost cannot be set high enough to prevent the cannibal from seeking satiety.

Strangely enough, there actually is common law precedent here in the form of a Queen’s Bench case in 1800’s (IIRC). In brief, a ship was sunk at sea and only three of the crew survived — the captain, one of his mates and a cabin boy. According to the court testimony, the survivors were adrift for quite some time without any food when they finally decided that one of them would have to sacrifice themselves for the good of the other two. The survivors drew lots and, lo and behold, the cabin boy lost. He was devoured and soon thereafter the captain and his mate were rescued. For whatever reason they decided to tell their tale and they were promptly arrested on charges of murder, the grounds being that one cannot consent to the taking of their own life. IIRC the captain and his mate were convicted, but the Queen later commuted their sentences. I can’t remember the name of the case and it’s really eating me ….

29

Zizka 12.04.03 at 5:04 pm

A basic liberal principle is that no one can sell themselves into slavery or serfdom — “forced to be free”. Seemingly this principle could be adapted to the present sort of case.

I would say that the counter-culturalists are ahead in counter-intuitivity tournament. The libertarians, metaethicists, and post-modernists just trail along behind. I’m trying to think of something too nasty and stupid even for them, but if I thought of something and stated it publicly, I’m sure that someone would take it as a challenge.

30

Keith M Ellis 12.04.03 at 5:56 pm

“I’m trying to think of something too nasty and stupid even for them…”—Zizka

How about sodomy? I hear that only demented people engage in such activity, and the DSM III agrees. Indeed, some prominent legal theorists point out that sodomy has been intuitively understood as unacceptable throughout human history.

“A basic liberal principle is that no one can sell themselves into slavery or serfdom…”—Zizka

Let’s take a look at those military enlistment papers. Hmm.

I’m pretty sure that your barbs are aimed my way; and I must say that it is interesting to be regarded as a “counter-culturist”. I honestly don’t know if anyone has called me that before.

As I said to my friend yesterday, fifteen years ago I felt that BDSM was clearly the result of psychological maladjustment and I would have been sanguine about illegalizing whole categories of such activity. Today, I’m far less willing to judge for other people their decisions about what is healthy and unhealthy for themselves. I do still care if I’m expected to shoulder the social cost of their decisions, however. Still, this reasoning makes me more concerned about mountain climbers than cannibalist-voluntary-murder-victims.

For me, the essential human faculty is moral choice. To deny (even temporarily) that another human is in possession of that faculty is nearly equivalent to denying them their life itself. I think the standard should be set very high—a well understood biological mechanism, for example.

“Because people in their right minds don’t do such things” is, to me, a _deeply_ insufficient standard as, among many other reasons, it has been shown to be an insufficient standard in the past. I don’t think suicide is prima facie evidence of mental incapacity.

On the other hand, allowing people to take other people’s lives, even when unquestionably voluntary, may have a number of secondary social costs that are not worth bearing. But that reasoning arguably leads to the abolition of some currently allowed activities, none of which typically involve cannibalism.

I am deeply uncomfortable with a moral calculus that finds this activity intensely repugnant and deserving of extreme punishment while women exist for years, terrified, in physically and emotionally abusive relationships without ever having given explicit consent to their mistreatment. And the charges against the abusers are orders of magnitude less serious than what is being discussed here. This comparison isn’t spurious. My point is that I’m looking for a rational deciding principle, and I’m not sailing with only the barometer of my intuition. Leon Kass is full of shit.

31

novalis 12.04.03 at 6:23 pm

Keith, I’m with you here. I can’t understand why my co-workers look at me funny when I want to discuss The Case Of The Speluncean Explorers over lunch. Further, if someone died (wasn’t killed for this purpose), and offered their flesh, I would at least taste it.

32

sidereal 12.04.03 at 6:38 pm

Here’s the problem for the libertarians. Libertarianism requires either an assumption of the primacy and independence of the human mind and will, or a lack of interest in the consequences of the lack of that primacy and independence.

Humans, as an extremely social animal, take their cues on normative behavior from their environment. People with emotional, social, and mental issues, anywhere from teen hormones to depression to social anxiety, are at huge risk of being led into destructive and self-defeating behavior if its accepted by their peer group or society. I suppose a libertarian could say that that’s a nonproblem and only the strong-willed and clear of mind are eligible to live healthy lives. I’d call that inanely idealistic and anti-humanistic.

Part of our responsibility as members of society is crafting a social framework that will act as a support to people who need it. I take this as simply axiomatic, and the libertarian denial of this fact is I think an extreme reaction to the historical tendency to use the ‘social fabric’ to justify everything from bigotry to genocide. We need a middle ground, where we acknowledge the utility of enforced societal norms on rational grounds. I would expect that any such bundle of norms would exclude suicide pacts for the physically healthy and cannibalism for the well-fed.

33

enthymeme 12.04.03 at 6:58 pm

R v Dudley (1884-85) LR 14 QBD 273?

It must not be supposed that in refusing to admit temptation to be an excuse for crime it is forgotten how terrible the temptation was; how awful the suffering; how hard in such trials to keep the judgment straight and the conduct pure. We are often compelled to set up standards we cannot reach ourselves, and to lay down rules which we could not ourselves satisfy. But a man has no right to declare temptation to be an excuse, though he might himself have yielded to it, nor allow compassion for the criminal to change or weaken in any manner the legal definition of the crime. It is therefore our duty to declare that the prisoners’ act in this case was wilful murder, that the facts as stated in the verdict are no legal justification of the homicide; and to say that in our unanimous opinion the prisoners are upon this special verdict guilty of murder.

— Lord Coleridge C.J.

34

D. Citizen 12.04.03 at 7:04 pm

Sidreal:

It seems to me that you’re conflating “libertarian” with “libertine”.

A “libertarian” can hold, as you do, the view that the “responsibility as members of society is crafting a social framework that will act as a support to people who need it,” and at the same time insist that government should not be involved in enforcement. This is an entirely consistent position.

A “libertine,” however, does not believe in social enforcement of norms — live and let live (or die as the case may be).

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D. Citizen 12.04.03 at 7:06 pm

Enthymeme:

Yes! That’s it!

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sidereal 12.04.03 at 7:49 pm

d., I do acknowledge that I’m bundling up and averaging various beliefs and labeling them as libertarian and I apologize for the oversimplification, but I think my point still stands.

First, I don’t necessarily agree with your distinction. My understanding is that one of the (few) roles of government in libertarian thinking is the enforcement of laws based on agreed-upon societal norms (like the primacy of individual will), as the alternative is might-makes-right. The argument would be which norms deserve to be enforced, but that’s different terrain.

Second, upthread you say ‘If there was mutual consent, what’s the problem?’, which indicates that either you’re a libertine or you do not think that this act qualifies as something to be excluded. Here’s the rub, and it relates to many of the things keith m ellis wrote that resonated with me. He wants a rational deciding principle, and I think it has to be cost. You have to acknowledge the degradation (in terms of personal safety, family safety, quality of life, etc) that occurs when it becomes sufficiently societally normal to engage in certain acts that typical people looking for acceptance or alternatives begin to engage in those acts.

If the cost of preventing acts forcibly (in terms of loss of personal liberty, lack of equivalent alternatives, palpable harm, etc) is less than the cost of permissiveness, then forbid it. At which point you can’t avoid figuring out the calculus to weight these costs, and I don’t know if anyone’s done that satisfactorily yet. My problem with a majority of the libertarianism that I’ve encountered is that it either sets the cost of liberty at 0, which I think is just ignorant, or it concludes that since measuring the cost is so arbitrary and complex that it’s better to pick an absolute and suffer the consequences. Unfortunately, that same argument can be flipped and equally rationally defend repressive environments like Wahabi Islam. . . you just have to pick the other absolute.

I’d much rather try to fight my way around a slippery slope than jump off the mountain.

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D. Citizen 12.04.03 at 8:49 pm

Sidreal:

Maybe I was taking your point too literally, and I do understand your concern for the effective enforcement of societal norms in terms of the costs of negative externalities — i.e. “the degradation (in terms of personal safety, family safety, quality of life, etc) that occurs when it becomes sufficiently societally normal to engage in certain acts that typical people looking for acceptance or alternatives begin to engage in those acts.” My argument with your critique is that you (and the vast majority of people who hold the same view — which may indeed be the vast majority of people) don’t distinguish between libertarianism as a philosphy and libertarianism as a political orientation.

Personally, I tend to the libertarian in my political views (more akin to someone like Milton Friedman rather than Harry Browne) and more to the rational conservative in my philosophical outlook (sorry, I have no good example here). In the case that inspired this post, my rational conservative side screams out “OH!MY!GOD!” while the libertarian in me doesn’t see much “there” there.

What you interpreted as “libertine” was simply me looking at the situation from a legal perspective that does not involve my personal predilections one way or the other. From this point of view, I am only concerned with the consistent application of legal rules irrespective of the “yuck” factor.

On the other hand, if the way that everyone conducted their lives was up to me, such behavior would be per se illegal for a variety of reasons, some of which you mentioned, but primarily because I believe that people should have more respect for themselves than is displayed in such wanton acts.

The amalgam of my views leads me to desire a regime that does not infringe on one’s right to make bad decisions, unless such decisions infringe on the rights of someone else,* while at the same time demanding a level of personal responsibility that discourages and prevents such abhorant behavior (in as much as it possibly can be prevented). I manifestly do not believe that morality can be legislated, which is what lead me to discover the libertarian milieu in the first place.

In short, I think that a libertarian can consistently assume the primacy of one’s mind and will and still be very concerned about the outcome of one’s actions, even when those actions only harm one’s self. In my opinion, it is really only those who do not separate governance from personal philosophy that would face such a dilemma as you posited.

*I expect that the definition of “rights” is the true point of contention between our views.

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Ted Barlow 12.04.03 at 8:55 pm

“To my mind, it’s an assisted-suicide case.”

Keith M. Ellis

I tend to agree. I think that the job of the legal system in a case like this should be to force the killer to prove that the dead person was truly consenting (and was capable of consent.)

It’s shouldn’t be the job of the legal system to force the killer to prove that the dead person had an adequate reason to want to die.

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Micha Ghertner 12.04.03 at 10:08 pm

Sidereal,

I don’t think libertarians need to even deal with the free will arguments, as long as they are consequentialists rather than deontologists.

Further, your understanding is incorrect. Only some libertarians (namely: minarchists) think that enforcement of laws is a legitimate government function. Many others (namely: anarcho-capitalists), including myself, reject this view.

Keith,

I agree, it really is identical in my mind to an assisted-suicide case. But I acknowledge the existence of extreme social repulsion to canibalism (in addition to the less extreme social repulsion to suicide), which complicates the analysis.

Zizka,

While it is true that many liberals, both classical and modern, believe in the principle that no one can sell themselves into slavery or serfdom, this only applies in cases where a contract is written for specific performance and a court or abitrator is asked to enforce the contract. But in this kind of case, as in the case of assisted suicide, if we grant the principle of self-ownership, only the individual has a say in what may be done to his or her body, not the state.

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Rick 12.09.03 at 3:51 pm

All I have to say is that anyone willing to have their penis cutoff and then eat it with some other freak has got to be one thing, FUCKED UP!
It doesnt take a genius to see that these people are capable of incredibly hideous stuff and if they are willing to advertise that they are wanting to eat human flesh then they will do anything they have too to satisfy their incredibly desturbing desires. Call it what you want but its not only sick its WRONG!
Im sure if this guy would not have gotten what he wanted he would go out to the general public and kill someone to get it. Dahmer is a prime example!

41

sterlingspider 12.11.03 at 9:19 pm

Just to clear up some terminology issues… The psychological concept of mental illness and the legal concept of sanity are seperate and, even (at times) completely mutually exclusive concepts. One can be deemed (by a jury, NOT a mental health professional) insane on the basis of an epileptic fit or even a sufficiently problematic blood sugar crash. The only place the concept of mental illness has in the determination of insanity is the determination of whether the defendants mental illness could sufficiently degrade their reality testing so as to render them incaple of making the determination that their act is wrong.
In most states the basis of the insanity plea is that one does not know that what one is doing is wrong. Some states also add the “or cannot appreciate” clause which makes a bigger difference then one might think (all the difference in the Andrea Yates trial as a matter of fact).
While I do not know german law on this matter, the statement that “obviously they’re crazy and as such unable to consent” doesnt really fly in the courtroom here.

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Roberta 12.17.03 at 12:03 am

I read the articles in the press about the German cannibal trial. I think it is the ultimate experience anyone could ever invisage. It is something which I have always found erotic. I see nothing wrong for a person to offer themselves for such deeds, who can deny anyone the right to live their lives as they so desire. The very thought that someone would derive pleasure from eating your flesh is quite sensational. I have a sort of desire in that direction. Am I alone in the modern world, when I suggest that I would like to consider being eaten.
Roberta.

43

Roberta 12.17.03 at 12:06 am

It has just struck me. If anyone would like to contact me about exotic meat, please do so. I would love to hear from you.
Roberta

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Roberta 12.17.03 at 12:07 am

It has just struck me. If anyone would like to contact me about exotic meat, please do so. I would love to hear from you.
Roberta

45

David 12.19.03 at 9:55 am

well…
I have only question…
did the victim (so to speak…)
consented to actually be kill,
BEFORE HE WAS ON ANY INFLUENCE FROM ANY SUBSTANCE?(sleep pill, etc…).
if yes…
was he aware of beeing killed in such a way?
I mean; by a knife in the neck?
if yes…
THERE IS NO PROBLEM….
once again, liberty is at stake.
if no to all these question…
KILL THE BASTARD…
He is very dangerous…

46

David 12.19.03 at 9:55 am

well…
I have only question…
did the victim (so to speak…)
consented to actually be kill,
BEFORE HE WAS ON ANY INFLUENCE FROM ANY SUBSTANCE?(sleep pill, etc…).
if yes…
was he aware of beeing killed in such a way?
I mean; by a knife in the neck?
if yes…
THERE IS NO PROBLEM….
once again, liberty is at stake.
if no to all these question…
KILL THE BASTARD…
He is very dangerous…

47

Roberta 12.20.03 at 12:30 am

David,
If this man were to have been the only one to have responded to the advert. Yes there would be doubts, however it would seem he wasn’t the only one. Surely it is up to the individual, if he or she consents then where is the crime? If a person agrees to be filmed, then they are part and pass of the act.
In reality no one will ever know the truth, but I think the victim was a willing party.
Roberta

48

Natalie Wright 12.30.03 at 12:32 am

Hello,
I read your Web site and it is interesting, my boyfriend and I have followed the German courtcase and we have talked about it a fair bit.
I am inclined to agree with Roberta, when she said that it was up to the individual. I have to confess that my boyfriend and I both think such things are erotic. Sorry if it offends but the thought that someone has desires to eat you is macarbely erotic.
Valerie

49

Natalie Wright 12.30.03 at 12:33 am

Hello,
I read your Web site and it is interesting, my boyfriend and I have followed the German courtcase and we have talked about it a fair bit.
I am inclined to agree with Roberta, when she said that it was up to the individual. I have to confess that my boyfriend and I both think such things are erotic. Sorry if it offends but the thought that someone has desires to eat you is macarbely erotic.
Valerie

50

Natalie Wright 12.30.03 at 12:33 am

Hello,
I read your Web site and it is interesting, my boyfriend and I have followed the German courtcase and we have talked about it a fair bit.
I am inclined to agree with Roberta, when she said that it was up to the individual. I have to confess that my boyfriend and I both think such things are erotic. Sorry if it offends but the thought that someone has desires to eat you is macarbely erotic.
Valerie

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