If the body of a person who dies a natural death is ritually consumed by his family and friends as part of their religion, should this be considered immoral and punishable? (One can imagine an American lawyer arguing that the ritual consumption of flesh and blood as an act of remembrance is covered by the freedom of religion clause in the US constitution.) What about the surviving members of a ship's crew marooned on a desert isle staying alive by consuming the meat of their already dead crewmates? There are stories from traditional China of a filial child cutting flesh from his or her arm or leg and boiling it up to make a soup for an ailing parent. Does ritual cannibalism of an honoured dead or expedient consumption or an act of filial piety differ from hunting another human being for food? Is it the eating of human meat per se or the harvesting of fellow human being specifically for food that is wrong? Is cannibalism explicitly against the law in every country? One can imagine a country in which cannibalism is so inconceivable that the legislature never bothered to outlaw it. Wikipedia in the entry on cannibalism gives an example of an English performance artist who ate a tonsil (the remains of an operation) and apparently did so legally. And (to answer a question posed in your posting), in those jurisdictions in which cannibalism is illegal, is there a statute of limitations on the act? Is subsequent reform a grounds for forgiveness? Or, perhaps, is there an analogue to the I tried pot but didn't inhale defence--i.e, I chewed but didn't swallow?As with so many behaviours, the context can muddy attempts to declare the act immoral. P.S. I much enjoy your blog.
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