Sunday, June 05, 2005

Business as Usual or the Decline and Fall of American Civilization?

Some things just disturb you the more you think about them. Two days ago I heard about the creation of a lawyer cum business student a "Healthy Human Flesh Alternative". It's tofu textured and flavored to simulate long pig. The creator claims, truthfully one hopes, to be working from historical sources rather than direct experience.

I'm hoping it's just a really good joke. If he does start selling he'll make a lot of money right up until Congress passes a law banning it.

The more I think about it the more disturbing the whole thing becomes. It's not illegal. No humans or animals are harmed in the production. But who would want to eat this? I'm sure there's a strong market in the Goth crowd, the morbidly curious and people looking for a real gag gift. In some sense it's the same as the sugar skulls Mexicans eat on All Souls' Day.

But is this a curiousity we want to support or even allow? There are some taboos that it's just plain wrong to break, and cannibalism is near the top of the list.

The arguments and ethical concerns are a lot like the ones around computer generated faux child pornography. No real children are exploited, but it caters to desires so far beyond the pale of decency that even simulations need to be forbidden. I suppose the difference is that baby rapers are likely to be inspired by the images to abuse children. Flavored tofu isn't going to push anyone over the edge into cannibalism.

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