Thursday, February 4, 2010

If a tree falls in a forest...

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

It's a philosophical question for the ages that has bled over into quantum mechanics. As a Cynic, this type of twaddle occupies a determinable and invariable state - typhos. Needless distraction from the more basic things in life, like vandalising currency or thwapping your penis on a bar when the waitron would rather file her nails than notice you're waiting for another beer.

But with a bit of lateral thinking, the question also poses some interesting possibilities. Like: If a necrophile drains his nutsack while on the job at the morgue and nobody knows, does it really make any difference ?

Morgue worker sentenced to three more years in prison for corpse sex

Sandra Williams was devastated in 1991 when her sister, Charlene Apling Edwards, was killed.

Williams dealt with the grief for years before being told of an even more nightmarish crime – her sister’s body was sexually assaulted by a Hamilton County morgue worker as it was awaiting autopsy.

“I thought burying my sister was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do,” she told Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Nadine Allen. “I thought we could just put it behind us and lay it to rest, but when this happened, I re-lived her death all over again.”

Of course there's photo goodness.

“This” was one of two counts of gross abuse of a corpse for which morgue worker Kenneth Douglas was sentenced Tuesday. In all, Douglas pleaded guilty to having sex with three corpses when he worked at the morgue from 1976-92.

Douglas was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday for having sex with the corpses of Apling and Angel Hicks. That’s in addition to the three-year prison term imposed on him in 2008 after he pleaded guilty to having sex with the corpse of Karen Range who was murdered in 1982. He had sex with Range’s corpse which was bloody, its head almost severed and had been stored in the morgue cooler for hours.

And so it waffles -

The judge said Douglas’ crimes were depraved.

“There’s a reason we say ‘the dearly departed, may they rest in peace.’ What happened he isn’t even primitive. It’s depraved and inhumane,” the judge said.

With the obligatory, and irrelevant, appeal to emotion from the sister of one of the deceased in an attempt to influence sentencing -

“He raped a five-months pregnant dead woman,” Apling, now in his mid-20s, said.

Ignoring the whole debatable "consent" issue, being "pregnant" while being "dead" hits a logical fallacy jackpot.

The sister was traumatised, of this there is no doubt. Probably for life. Don't need some junior court reporter to arrive at that conclusion for us. But like the tree in the forest, what benefit does it actually serve the sister being made aware of it ? A pervert that hasn't actually harmed anyone gets sent to the big house to a life surrounded by people that have genuinely, often violently, invaded and damaged peoples lives. She is left with poisoned memories that can't be repaired. And people like me stumble upon the story and compulsively have to share. All could have been avoided with a bit of delicacy and tact. It is, strictly speaking, a victimless crime. Instead, thanks to concerned citizenry, there is trauma all round.


* Main image credit: Still from Jörg Buttgereit's rather excellent Nekromantik, the touchingly sad story of a love triangle between a boy, a girl and a corpse.

* From "Although assumed rare, many have argued that necrophilia may be more prevalent than statistics imply, given that the act would be carried out in secret with a victim unable to complain and given the length of time which the paraphilia has been recognized [...] As with most sexual anomalies, the cases reported in the literature have actually involved males between the ages of 20 and 50 with occupations that provide ready access to corpses: gravediggers, mortuary attendants, orderlies, etc. Most individuals have been reported to be heterosexual."

* For anyone that thinks necrophilia is a boys only adventure, there's always Karen Greenlee.

* Herodotus wrote of the Egyptians some two and a half millenia ago: "When the wife of a distinguished man dies, or any woman who happens to be beautiful or well known, her body is not given to the embalmers immediately, but only after the lapse of three or four days. This is a precautionary measure to prevent the embalmers from violating her corpse, a thing which is actually said to have happened in the case of a woman who had just died."

* And for an Indian engrish point of view, filed under "Kama Sutra" (!): "The Dead Corpse Can Fantasize Physical Pleasure" [link]