'Tis the Season for Cannibalism

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The holiday season on cable TV has been nice to put me in the mood for (and prepare me for) future apocalyptic holiday seasons with screenings of The Road and Book of Eli. The only shows missing, besides a good marathon of Planet of the Apes, is the 1973 science fiction classic Soylent Green also starring that great gun-loving American Charlton Heston.

If that happened, then I'd really be ready for a stroll through Winterhaven, just wondering how it would all look when we finally run out of water and realize sustainable community now means we need to eat our neighbors. Before you think that's bad, read the latest on cannibalism in Slate Magazine. In "An evolutionary case for cannibalism," you'll learn that such thoughts when watching apocalyptic cinema, that someday eating people is going to be a necessary act of survival and not evil, are well, normal.

Read the full story here:

So with all of these scenes swimming in my head, and pragmatist that I am, I'm left wondering why, exactly, it is that the consumption of already dead human bodies is such a taboo, especially for societies in which the soul is commonly seen as flitting off at death like an invisible helium balloon. If you subscribe to such dualistic notions, after all, the body is only some empty shell that the now-liberated spirit no longer needs. All those poor starving children of the world, surrounded by—as some epicures swear—the most succulent meat on the planet. Even resurrectionists should gleefully feed the impoverished with their own flesh, lest they, God forbid, allow such a bounty of edible meat to go to rot. All those wasted commercial goods, burned down to sticky dust in crematories, squirreled away behind ornate vaults, fed extravagantly to bloated subterranean organisms! If you'd rather not eat meat from aged or possibly diseased dead people, and if you're worried about the dignity of the individual, it would be easy enough to breed and then factory-farm brain-dead or free-ranging anencephalic human beings*, treating them humanely, of course, but enforcing food safety standards to control for outbreaks.

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