Before you read any further be forewarned…. the following may be upsetting & shocking and is not suitable for younger readers or those with a weak constitution.
Do you consider Cannibalism so inhumane that you could never make yourself resort to it under any circumstances? How sure are you of this? Perhaps you or I wouldn’t but there are innumerable instances, most quite unnerving & repulsive as to make this a not so uncommon event.
Lets start off mildly:
There is no known folkore of Native American cultures engaged in culturally sanctioned cannibalism, specifically starting at the time of Europeans coming ashore in North America.
Cannibalism was culturally unacceptable behavior. The Sioux considered cannibalism a sin, the Cree considered it a mental illness, the Algonquin and Ojibwe considered it a sign of possession by an evil spirit. In almost all cases, American Indian cannibals–just like European or American cannibals–were put to death as soon as they were discovered. The Wendigo of the U.S. and Canada was told as a cautionary tale against of the evils of cannibalism, being conjured by anyone who eats human flesh. They would be transform into a this evil creature with an insatiable hunger to kill and eat people.
Some people today believe that eating the placenta after birth, prevents postpartum depression and other childbirth health problems. The medical field has declared that there is no medical reason for a well nourished mom to eat her baby’s placenta while others maintain it is a great source of vitamins, minerals and perfectly balanced hormones… (I think I’ll just keep taking my daily vitamins, thank you).
History expounds of the notorious Aztec rituals of cannibalism (warriors would eat a strip of flesh from enemies they had slain in combat). Some people dispute this, but the Aztecs’ own written and oral histories seem to support it as the truth. In another little known item of historical interest, in colonial Jamestown, Virginia, United States, colonists resorted to cannibalism during a period from 1609 to 1610 known as the Starving Time. After food supplies had diminished, some colonists began to dig up corpses for food. During this period, one man was tortured until he confessed to having killed, salted, and eaten his pregnant wife; he was burned alive as punishment.
Does the inclusion of this practice in a culture make it right or wrong? We feel ourselves superior to animals, yet do many if any animals eat their own kind? Would it shock you to learn of a few bible verses that reference this topic? To name just two, check out “2 Kings 6:29” and “Deuteronomy 28:56.” Was there literal intent in these?
Here are a few more recent events taken just from Canada & U.S. accounts:
The crew members of the steamship, Dumaru, spent three weeks adrift in a lifeboat, after the ship exploded and sank in the western Pacific Ocean on October 16, 1918. Quickly exhausting their supply of food and water, they resorted to cannibalism of those that died to survive.
During World War II, Nazis had bombarded and then surrounded Leningrad in Russia and began starving the population. During the brutal winter that ensued, and having already eaten the animals of the city, the desperate residents of Leningrad resorted to looting the dead for clothes and even sliced off pieces of flesh to be ground up and used for food.
Moving on to more gruesome accounts, there is the story of Canadian Tim Mclean who, while riding a Greyhound Canada bus in Manitoba, was attacked while sleeping. Another passenger by the name of Vincent Li began stabbing Mclean in the neck and chest with a large knife and proceeded to decapitate Mclean. He also severed other body parts and ate some of the flesh. When police arrived on the scene to apprehend Li, he stated God had instructed him to do the killing, specifically to behead and eat the man because he was an alien!
In Miami, FLorida the police had to shoot and kill a man who resisted the police and refused to stop his attack on a homeless person. Quoting from the police report, “And the guy was like tearing him to pieces with his mouth, so I told him, ‘Get off! You know it’s like the guy just kept eating the other guy away, like ripping his skin.” After the attack the homeless man has no eyes, the skin of his forehead has been eaten, and also his nose is completely gone. (if you have a morbid sense of curiousity, there are pictures available if you research this further).
Some murderers are known to have devoured their victims after killing them. One famous case is serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer who is known to have murdered at least 17 young men and boys between 1978 and 1991. He told police that he had cut up the thighs, biceps, and internal organs of several of his victims and cooked them in a stovetop skillet before consuming them, claiming they tasted like filet mignon.
There are some strange twists that play out from the subject of this article. Alferd Packer, “The Colorado Cannibal” claimed his party to have been stranded and starving one winter. With the members of his party dying one at a time, those remaining alive resorted to consuming the dead members until it came down to just Packer and one other member, Shannon Bell. After being rescued, Packer claimed a desperately hungry Bell attempted to kill Packer for food. Bell was killed in the ensuing fight and Packer was left with no choice but to eat the man who would have eaten him. To make a long story short, Packer wasn’t believed by authorities and was charged with murder. He escaped, was recaptured and made to serve a prison term and eventually released after his sentence was reduced.
In 1968 students at the University of Colorado in Boulder renamed the student union restaurant the Alferd E. Packer Memorial Grill (why are they memorializing him?) and in 1998 author James E. Bank penned Alferd Packer’s Wilderness Cookbook. This quote from an Amazon review of the cookbook states: “bought this title sight-unseen for my son, who lives in Colorado’s mountains not too far from the site of the cannibal’s famous feast. While it does have a brief account of Packer [and spells his name correctly as Alferd], the account is NOT the best, The rest of the book is absolutely stupid—telling you things as if you were from Mars such as to take sleeping bags when you go camping. There are NO recipes in this cookbook, which trades only of its tantalizing title.”
This topic leaves us with one last derivation…. Autocannibalism.
Recently a man from Tokyo, Japan named Mao Sugiyama, who in his desire to become an asexual person, found a surgeon willing to remove his penis and scrotum, in addition asking the removed items be frozen/preserved so that he could later cook them to be eaten. As what happens when we have time to rethink things, he came up with the idea to share these items with people willing to pay for them to be eaten. There were a total of 70 applicants who paid approximately $250 each to participate in the meal.
There are countless other incidents and stories concerning cannabalism here and around the world if your curiousity compels you to research further.
My apologies to any reader I may have offended with this article.
(Photo courtesy of Vox)