Necessity is not a Defense to Murder and Cannibalism

Tom Dudley, Captain of the Mignonette, a 52-foot sailing vessel with a crew of four that capsized five minutes after being struck by a wave in the south Atlantic 1600 miles northwest of the Cape of Good Hope on July 5, 1884, described the scene in the lifeboat three weeks later after Dudley killed Richard Parker, the 17-year-old cabin boy so that he, Edwin Stephens and Edmund Brooks could feed off his uncooked flesh and drink his blood to survive.

“I can assure you I shall never forget the sight of my two unfortunate companions over that ghastly meal we all was like mad wolfs who should get the most and for men fathers of children to commit such a deed we could not have our right reason.”

The three survivors were rescued four or five days later by a passing sailing ship that was en route to Hamburg. After they were dropped off in Cornwall, the three men provided statements describing the decision-making process. The men had only two tins of turnips and no fresh water in the lifeboat.

Wikipedia provides the grisly details.

Dudley managed to improvise a sea anchor to keep the lifeboat headed into the waves and maintain her stability. Over the first night, the crew had to fight off a shark with their oars. They were around 700 miles (1,100 km) from the nearest land, being either St. Helena or Tristan de Cunha. Dudley kept the first tin of turnips until 7 July when its five pieces were shared among the men to last two days. On or around 9 July, Brooks spotted a turtle which Stephens dragged on board. The crew were resolutely avoiding drinking seawater as it was then universally held to be fatal and, though they devoured the turtle, they forewent drinking its blood when it became contaminated with seawater. The turtle yielded about three pounds (1.4 kg) of meat each, though the crew ate even the bones, and, along with the second tin of turnips lasted until 15 or 17 July. The crew consistently failed to catch any rainwater and by 13 July, with no other source of fluid, they began to drink their own urine. It was probably on 20 July that Parker became ill through drinking seawater. Stephens was also unwell, possibly having experimented with seawater.

Drawing lots in order to choose a sacrificial victim who would die to feed the others was possibly first discussed on 16 or 17 July, and debate seems to have intensified on 21 July but without resolution. On 23 or 24 July, with Parker probably in a coma, Dudley told the others that it was better that one of them die so that the others survive and that they should draw lots. Brooks refused. That night, Dudley again raised the matter with Stephens pointing out that Parker was probably dying and that he and Stephens had wives and families. They agreed to leave the matter until the morning. The following day, with no prospect of rescue in sight, Dudley and Stephens silently signalled to each other that Parker would be killed. Killing Parker before his natural death would better preserve his blood to drink. Brooks, who had not been party to the earlier discussion, claimed to have signalled neither assent nor protest. Dudley always insisted that Brooks had assented. Dudley said a prayer and, with Stephens standing by to hold the youth’s legs if he struggled, pushed his penknife into Parker’s jugular vein, killing him.

In some of the varying and confused later accounts of the killing, Parker murmured, “What me?” as he was slain. The three fed on Parker’s body, with Dudley and Brooks consuming the most and Stephens very little. The crew even finally managed to catch some rainwater.

Dudley and Stephens were charged with murder. Brooks was not charged because he claimed not to have participated in the decision to kill Parker.

Dudley and Stephens asserted that they were not guilty by reason of the common law defense of necessity, which was and continues to be a defense to property crimes.

The legal issue in the case was whether necessity should be recognized as a defense to murder.

The panel of judges ruled that common law defense of necessity does not apply to a murder charge, either on the basis of legal precedent or the basis of ethics and morality. Wiki quotes the following language from the opinion. I include it because it is so 19th century and beautiful in its own right.

To preserve one’s life is generally speaking a duty, but it may be the plainest and the highest duty to sacrifice it. War is full of instances in which it is a man’s duty not to live, but to die. The duty, in case of shipwreck, of a captain to his crew, of the crew to the passengers, of soldiers to women and children, as in the noble case of the Birkenhead; these duties impose on men the moral necessity, not of the preservation, but of the sacrifice of their lives for others, from which in no country, least of all, it is to be hoped, in England, will men ever shrink, as indeed, they have not shrunk.

* * *

It would be a very easy and cheap display of commonplace learning to quote from Greek and Latin authors, from Horace, from Juvenal, from Cicero, from Euripides, passage after passage, in which the duty of dying for others has been laid down in glowing and emphatic language as resulting from the principles of heathen ethics; it is enough in a Christian country to remind ourselves of the Great Example [Jesus Christ] whom we profess to follow.

* * *

It must not be supposed that in refusing to admit temptation to be an excuse for crime it is forgotten how terrible the temptation was; how awful the suffering; how hard in such trials to keep the judgment straight and the conduct pure. We are often compelled to set up standards we cannot reach ourselves, and to lay down rules which we could not ourselves satisfy. But a man has no right to declare temptation to be an excuse, though he might himself have yielded to it, nor allow compassion for the criminal to change or weaken in any manner the legal definition of the crime.

Dudley and Stephens were sentenced to the statutory death penalty with a recommendation for mercy. Their death sentences were commuted to six months in jail.

The name of the case is The Queen v. Dudley and Stephens, Queen’s Bench Division, 1884. 14 Q.B.D. 273.

Wiki notes a circumstance possibly more creepy than the case itself, if such is possible.

It [the case] became better known in 1974 when Arthur Koestler ran a competition in The Sunday Times, in which readers were invited to send in the most striking coincidence they knew of. The winning entry pointed out that in Edgar Allan Poe’s novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, published in 1838, decades before the Mignonette sank, four men are cast adrift on their capsized ship and draw lots to decide which of them should be sacrificed as food for the other three. The loser was the sailor who had proposed the idea: the character’s name was Richard Parker.

Coincidence?

129 Responses to Necessity is not a Defense to Murder and Cannibalism

  1. Jun says:

    That is disgusting.

  2. Two sides to a story says:

    Chilling. I’d rather die than survive like that.

    • Jun says:

      me too. I have watched cannibals in movies based on real cases and vomited almost at the thought.

    • Rachael says:

      @TSTAS, I’ve learned in life that it is really easy to say what we think we would do in a horrible situation, quite another the really know what we would do if we were in it.

    • Two sides to a story says:

      True, but based on my almost 60 years, I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t do it. Content to move on to the next world.

      • Rachael says:

        And I’ll bet you a million dollars they would have said the same thing before it happened.

      • Rachael says:

        PS – I’m 56 and I sure would like to say that I would never do such a disgusting thing. At least the killing for sure, but I have a wonderful son, a beautiful daughter-in-law and 2 adorable granddaughters. I don’t know that I am content to move on to the next world yet.

      • grahase says:

        Judging by your ages – TSTOAS and Rachael, the meat would be pretty tough. Just kidding. But, you notice they went for the young kid!

      • Rachael says:

        IDK, I have a lot of fat for juicy flavor.

        Juiciness and tenderness are two very important factors when it comes to meat quality. Both factors are influenced by the cut of meat you choose and how long the meat is cooked. The more a muscle is used, the stronger, and therefore tougher, the cut of meat will be. And the longer meat is cooked, the more liquid it loses and the tougher it becomes. Factors that also influence tenderness and juiciness are: The animal’s age at slaughter, the amount of fat and collagen (connective tissue) contained in particular cuts, and, to a small degree, brining. Fat is a source of energy that is stored in muscle tissue. When fat is heated, it melts and lubricates the muscle fibers in the meat, helping to keep it moist.

        The cuts of meat from cows and pigs that contain the most fat are those that come from areas where the muscles aren’t used as extensively, such as the ribs and loins.

        http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/meat/INT-what-makes-juicy.html

      • ed nelson says:

        I agree, once a nut “friend” proposed that it is good to loose weight, since he was overweight, me not really, and the thing was, to go on a Fast. Well my work was physical work like rolling 50 gallon drums and so on, but I said ok, we will go on a Fast…. (I was in my late 30′s but I took the bait). So I am glad I did, because what I found out in the 20 days of not eating anything but water, was, the hunger went away pretty quick, but I got tired quicker, and sleepy all the time, but I continued to work, though less physical jobs, still we had to clime up on the ladders and be awake in the we hours, I sarted to get kinda lazy!

        Some folks do” (Stephen Foster lyic), But maybe some folks don’t have the “scrupples” not no how, (Think “Sociapathy” for one… as it has been written, that, that propensity is anything but rare.

  3. BTW, This case is taught and discussed in every criminal law class in law schools all over the country.

    • thejbmission says:

      Thank you Professor for posting this article. It’s fascinating. You said this case is taught and discussed in every criminal law class and schools. Hmm..
      So am I to gather that even though George was jonesing and starving for a kill because the ‘a-holes always got away’ that he would not have garnered an acquittal in 1884?

  4. Ina says:

    What a horrific trip. The coincidence (Poe and his paranormal? vision) gave me goosebumps btw.
    It was harsh to sentence those men to dead, after their ordeal.

    The good thing: the law protects the rights of victims even in bad situations, necessity of survival or not. Good posting :) jmo.

  5. Brown says:

    I would of ate em

  6. Digger says:

    If Brooks did not participate in the kill, I am surprised he was allowed to eat by Dudley and Stephens. Yet Brooks and Dudley ate
    the most of Parker’s body.

    • gbrbsb says:

      Great viewing and fits to a T… hadn´t seen that for donkey´s years! Did you get a chance to view the courtroom scene (FCW) where Wanda denies her friend the accused´s alibi which would get him off and Archie expecting her to confirm it doesn´t realize so carries on questioning her for the defence as if she had confirmed it…

  7. grahase says:

    The chance of survival was waning and each knew what had to be done. They even drew lots. This tells me there was agreement. Of course the remaining would be punished. But, they were alive. At the time, the consequences of their actions were secondary. Six months in jail is punishment and they were probably grateful for it. Being hungry and thirsty is physically painful and affects the thought process. In he end, murder is murder. I would have called it assisted suicide.

    Ours is not to reason why. Ours is but to do or die.

    • grahase says:

      Alfred, Lord Tennyson – Charge of the Light Brigade.

    • Dave says:

      The “Custom of the Sea” called for the drawing of lots but the “Custom” was not followed here. Lots were not drawn nor was a vote taken. Parker was unconscious and could not participate in the fateful decision. Dudley and Stephens (a)decided that someone should be killed, (b)that it should be Parker, and then (c)killed him. Brooks did not participate in either the conspiracy or the murder itself (even though he chowed down with his two surviving shipmates).

      • Digger says:

        What do you call that, an or accomplish. I guess it is the “death by killing” the two did, but to sit back and wait for dessert is appalling. According to the story, Brooks did not try to stop the others from killing Parker, or offer himself up for a meal instead.

      • Dave says:

        Nope, Brooks (who testified for the prosecution against Dudley and Stephens) was not what I would call a man of principles. In the above post I was taking issue with grahase’s conclusion that the murder of the unfortunate cabin boy was an assisted suicide (since Parker took no part in the decision to end his life) and with the argument that his death was in accord with the “Custom of the Sea” (which I suppose could be considered part of the Common Law).

      • grahase says:

        Dave, take issue if you will. The boy was in no condition to vote or draw lots. He was in a coma. Brooks seemingly did not want to participate and I think that he probably thought he would have been the first to go. I say this because he testified for the Crown. He sold out the other two. Yet, he benefited from their having to choose the worst possible decision.

        You do not know how painful hunger can be – both physically and mentally. The boy, obviously, was in bad shape. Therefore, I believe I could call it assisted suicide. I could also possibly call it justified manslaughter. Then again, neither of us were there. If I was, I would have chowed down and if I knew the real Brooks, he would have been next.

      • grahase says:

        Traditionally, there was an unwritten, unspoken peace between the law and shipwrecked survivors. When cannibalism had occurred, the law turned a blind eye. What happened on the high seas in such tragic circumstances, stayed on the high seas and was between each survivor and their conscience.

        Historically, shipwreck was an accepted hazard of international travel. England alone recorded almost 400 shipwrecks in 1884, including the Mignonette. There had been the Nottingham Gallery, sunk in 1710, and the French ship Méduse (1816) which inspired a famous painting, the Radeau de la Méduse now hanging in the Louvre (adjacent image), and the George, which sunk en route from Quebec to Scotland in 1822. And, again, the Elizabeth Rashleigh which sunk in 1835, or the Essex in 1820, which inspired the story of Moby Dick. All had survivors only because of cannibalism.

        And yet, no prosecutions unless one includes Tulpius’ account of a shipwreck where the survivors stood trial for homicide, had drawn lots and killed the loser and eaten him. They were convicted but promptly pardoned because of the extreme necessity of their crime.

        But this was the ancient custom, the law of the sea.

  8. Fred~~since you are in to gourmet eating in this post. Yuck! I have a question. How come salt water fish do not taste salty?

    • Ina says:

      Interesting queston, :) I found this: “Saltwater fish and freshwater fish have about the same amount of salt in their bodies, and this is similar to most other complicated animals on the earth. This concentration is about the concentration of the early seas where life originated. All of our enzymes and body processes started with that baseline, and thus they stay. The oceans are saltier now, so they are saltier than the fish. Water tends to move over membranes toward the higher concentration of salt (osmosis), so freshwater fish are constantly urinating to get rid of the extra water, while saltwater fish dink a lot of water and excrete the salt through specialized organs on their gills. One of the biggest energy demands on fish is osmoregulation, or control of their salt content. One of the marvels of nature is that some fish can go back and forth between salt and fresh, which must be a nightmare to their systems.
      The exceptions to this rule are the sharks and rays, who beef up their internal salinity by the retention of urea. Somehow they are able to withstand huge concentrations of this normally toxic substance. This also accounts for the strange smell of fresh shark meat. ” ;)

    • grahase says:

      Ina – interesting article. I read or heard somewhere that sharks are immune to disease. I must look that up. In the meantime, I don’t know what shark smells like and I don’t even want to think about eating it. When we used to go salmon fishing, the sharks swim at the same level – mud sharks. Inevitably, we were constantly cutting the lines cause we had a shark on the end. Not the prettiest creatures face-to-face.

  9. PYorck says:

    If necessity doesn’t work, what about consent?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armin_Meiwes

  10. grahase says:

    Aboriginal Australians used cannibalism to settle disputes. It has since been outlawed. But, there are some Aboriginals who live outside of the so-called civilized Australian society. Although not talked about or admitted to, cannibalism still exists. The elders say human flesh tastes just like wild boar. The younger generation do not like the taste and are not forced to follow the old ways. So, for those who are curious about taste – there ya go.

  11. Malisha says:

    I thought this post was going to be about present day crime reports, one of which astonished me recently on the Jonathan Turley constitutional law blog.

    Apparently Police in Florida responded to a call that a guy was eating someone — the police show up and he’s chewing the face off a victim in plain sight. The cannibal’s name was Rudy Eugene, 31 years old. Police shot Eugene after ordering him to stop repeatedly (apparently 8 times!) without effect. Both men were naked and Eugene continued to eat the face of the other man. The other guy was taken to the hospital and he survived. He had been a homeless man. After extensive surgery (you don’t want to know!) he began a slow recovery and some distant relatives took him in; they probably didn’t know much about him until he was involuntarily thrown onto the front pages by being viciously attacked by a psychotic sadistic cannibal.

    Anyway, here we ended up reading about an older case of some rather more understandable cannibalism.

    Here’s one: Richard Parker was the name of the tiger in the lifeboat with the young Jain survivor in the novel, “Life of Pi” by Brilliant Canadian novelist Yann Martel.

    • Wasn’t Rudy Eugene high on bath salts?

      • Malisha says:

        I’m not sure that wasn’t apocryphal. The autopsy might or might not have shown that; I don’t remember hearing about the autopsy but I do remember that the cop who shot the cannibal was not disciplined for a “bad shoot.”

      • grahase says:

        There were no bath salts in his system.

      • Two sides to a story says:

        At first it was thought he might be high on bath salts, but he wasn’t. His girlfriend and family were astonished by his actions. I don’t know if they ever established exactly what was wrong with him.

    • Jun says:

      even more disturbing is this story I heard of this guy cornered by cops who cut out his stomach and started throwing his intestines and guts at cops

      GAG

    • You said,

      “Apparently Police in Florida responded to a call that a guy was eating someone — the police show up and he’s chewing the face off a victim in plain sight. The cannibal’s name was Rudy Eugene, 31 years old. Police shot Eugene after ordering him to stop repeatedly (apparently 8 times!) without effect. Both men were naked and Eugene continued to eat the face of the other man. The other guy was taken to the hospital and he survived. He had been a homeless man. After extensive surgery (you don’t want to know!) he began a slow recovery and some distant relatives took him in; they probably didn’t know much about him until he was involuntarily thrown onto the front pages by being viciously attacked by a psychotic sadistic cannibal.

      Anyway, here we ended up reading about an older case of some rather more understandable cannibalism.”

      That’s the notorious bath salts case.

    • ed nelson says:

      Malisha: Please sweat thing… (Apples and Oranges maybe?)

      That guy was a pretty nice looking Black guy, who went nuts and tried to eat some other guy… (don’t care what race…!).

      I wouldn’t want that guy to live next door sweets…

      IE: ” Naked Black guy, goes Native/ (if you remember… ” Go’s Wilding”! (hint: the big park in NYC, and that anecdote.)

      Get real Malisha… give it up, you can be a contendah… maybe…

  12. grahase says:

    Had the rest of them died, they would not have been tried. But, desperation forced them to do what they did. I am sure they knew they would be prosecuted. But, it was worth it to them. I probably would have done the same – to hell with consequences. As time went on, I may have been next. Survival of the fittest. Cest la vie. However, all three ate. All three should have had the same punishment. It was probably hardest on the guy who had to do the dirty deed (well, except for the dead guy).

  13. grahase says:

    Today, the remaining sailors would have agreed to tell the story of the lad dying and placed overboard. They probably would have been believed and not charged or the jury would have accepted their story as understandable given the circumstances.

    How did Edgar Allan Poe get it so right. What the he…. How does that work.

    • ed nelson says:

      Ole Edgar Allen seemed to have a way to tap into the stuff, some would ascribe as: Dark.

      Take that hint and go with it… Peeps: these literate did their job… of sounding concerns… however we find our little selves in a kind of vacumne, where, to tell any trueth, is a way to go to a Dungeon!!

      Pardon me for my sorry ass knowledge of that shit!

  14. ed nelson says:

    Fred, This post is one of the best yet of a bunch of good posts, from my perspective, I done some reading of different things, here is one, in genre of sea adventures, that I liked, a guage of the human mind/etc… http://www.amazon.com/Voyage-Madmen-Peter-Nichols/dp/0060957034/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353113856&sr=1-2&keywords=race+of+madmen

    I believe the men who went to sea long ago, though they may have been a rough set, may in the main… been exceptional, when the story is told, with all their toil and excesses in the ports… those guys were less likely to be tools.

    • grahase says:

      Would you agree that their telling of the truth was honourable. Telling the truth knowing the consequences of their actions is something rarely witnessed in the new and improved justice system.

    • The sea has always been a scary place and it seems to have taken a special breed of human to explore it.

      Most recently, those men fish for King Crab in the Bering Sea on crab boats in the dark in sub zero mid winter storms with 90 foot seas. That is one of the most hostile and dangerous environments imaginable. Yet they continue to do it and love the hard work and danger of living on the edge.

      Yeah, they have my respect.

      • ed nelson says:

        I watched the series on that and it isn’t a place I want to go to work! Espescially with dunder head aschlocks captains with wrong headed views of the world, such as most of those dick head captains have! Those captains are a travesty to the toilers of the sea, IMHO, I like the one good guy there who has the best boat, Sig Hansen, that guy is OK, but the other MFR’s are neocon grist… trash… with there bad language, bad behaviour, greedy purposes!

        Did anybody else see any of that?

    • gbrbsb says:

      The andes crash is a real story of survival but they didn´t kill the victims, these were killed by the crash weeks before they started eating them and due to the climate were frozen. Curiously the two or three people who could not bring themselves to eat their dead fellow humans died, unable to resist the lengthy wait for help. A further curiosity, I seem to recall they only ate the brains due to its protein content and some other reason.

  15. Brown says:

    Fine Young Cannibals!

  16. ed nelson says:

    cannibalism is repugnant, and you wouldn’t eat your dog… or “caterday… cat”… ( sorry about the demise of that guy.) or how about would you eat your mother or father if you were starvin’?…

    You don’t know… do you?… How could you know?

    Answer, you who don’t think about it much… you will have a nice little time when the facts of life drop down on ya! sweets.
    __________________

    If you need to eat to survive you will eat what ever you can… procure… or go the other way, and die.

    “Long Pig” is an old term, do you younger people know what that is?

    I don’t know either, but it seems to me it was what they called what the inhabitants, down there in the south pacific… used to “put on the Barbie”… like, or in some kinda big cast iron pot… Hahaha!

    Like what the locals used to call: “Pig… but pretty long one dis one!”

    • aussie says:

      Long pig is human flesh. Tastes like pork but the limbs are larger, ie “long”.

      Heart and liver are traditionally eaten raw, the rest roasted in firepits – no cast iron pots (on islands at least) only in cartoons. The heart and liver are the repositories of a person’s strength and bravery, and eating these parts of a defeated enemy are universally considered a complete destruction of his strength and taking it for yourself. For non-enemies it is a mark of respect.

      What does one cannibal say to the other when they see the missionary approaching on his bicycle?

      “here comes Meals on Wheels”.

      • ed nelson says:

        That’s the idear, “here comes some long pig on wheels… Mate”
        See I knew there was somebody what knows!

        Mable! Oh what should we do about the terrible… epidemic of… “Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease… Haha, or, “meals on wheels on steroids!” “set the table mable! heh comes // somebody coming for dinnah!

        Yeah the cast iron boiler isn’t always available down under… back in the days…

        And the wonderful sensitivity and so on about the liver and heart meats…. oh what a sad thing to not have a nice… Chiante!

      • Brown says:

        that’s funny…

    • fauxmccoy says:

      yes ed – i may be a youngster by your standards at 48 – but i’m well aware of the phrase ‘long pork’ which is the same. my father (recently departed at age 80) grew up in sheep farming country of north eastern utah, in a very isolated spot inhabited by mostly mormons and well .. butch cassidy. my great grandfather was sheriff and also the bank president. his bank was never robbed. he had a gentleman’s agreement with cassidy as their cabins in brown’s park utah were quite close to each other. butch received fresh horses from my family and thereby their bank was never robbed.

      because of the ‘wild west’ era of my dad’s upbringing, i have a wealth of stories of gone by eras and a peculiar vocabulary to with which to complement.

      • Wow! That’s a great story about Butch Cassidy and sheriff.

        You should write about that stuff.

        • fauxmccoy says:

          thank you fred. i am working on just that. as i said, i just recently lost my father and in many ways, i was waiting for that to write and hopefully publish stories passed down for many generations. for better or worse, the stories i heard were intertwined with my father’s mental illness and out of respect, i am waiting for both of my parents to pass. they both tried so hard to cover it up, that i will honor that.

          my father too was a lawman – part of atty gen. robt kennedy’s task force to eradicate organized crime in the 60′s. my father was a gun carrying, badge holding special agent for the IRS auditing the las vegas mob. he told me he would take much of what he knew to the grave, but it is my mission now to pry as much as i can from my mother.

          thank you again, your wife has given me great encouragement on my writing and i do work on it as much as i am able.

  17. Here’s a haunting and soulful version with a remarkable slide guitar solo and beautiful harmonies by three vocalists of At the Dark End of the Street that y’all might like.

    • Thanks, Fred. Hubby and I fished for haddock just off Peggy’s Cove. The ocean was much calmer then. Peggy’s is wide open to the Atlantic and not sheltered.

    • grahase says:

      I took my basic training at Cornwallis, Nova Scotia at the Bay of Fundy. The eastern provinces have the most- beautiful scenery and people within the whole country. Ya gotta be tough to live in Newfoundland and Labrador though. The coastal provinces are often harsh.

  18. ed nelson says:

    Not bad, I don’t exactly get it, but it is soulful.

    here is my guy for music:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGn2G-xjM_M&list=AL94UKMTqg-9CllS41_hTZO0i4Bn9Q0zqZ&index=1&feature=plcp

  19. Xena says:

    The adult human body can survive for 40 days without food, but having liquids is necessary. After 40 days, the body begins consuming itself from within. Without food, after about 10 days, the body actually loses its appetite and does not crave for food. It’s taking small portions of food that causes the appetite to remain.

  20. fauxmccoy says:

    somewhere, in a disorganized shoe box of photos from my youth, i have an eerie one. i live at the base of the sierra nevadas – it’s a relatively quick drive to either reno or sacramento and beautiful country to explore.

    i went on a sunday drive with a dearly departed friend, with an exquisite picnic packed to complete the day. as we drove through deeply wooded back roads looking for a place to pull over and eat, we happened upon a state park, complete with picnic tables. the sign at the entrance stated

    “DONNER PICNIC GROUNDS”

    we took a photo and kept driving, stomachs churning.

    • Xena says:

      ROFLOL!!! Are there any Donners left?

      • fauxmccoy says:

        because this happened so close to home for me and i know the area well, i read a fair amount of historical material about it as a youngster who would read literally anything (including my fathers accounting texts and mothers nursing texts). i remember checking out a book about the donner party from the library when i was 9ish which prompted one of the many calls librarians made to my father inquiring if i should be reading such things. i could literally hear my father cursing out the librarian as she held the phone away from her ear. after a couple of such calls (the other book was ‘Roots’) they finally made a note in my file to NEVER call my father again and that i had his full permission to read whatever i chose.

        this is what i can remember from a book read 40 years ago. a few of the whole party survived and eventually with help made it to the Sutters Mill and began to heal. i don’t think any of the actual donners did though. the matriarch, Tamsen Donner lived the longest as i recall and after they had eaten their livestock and shoes, she was critical in the rationing of human flesh and ensuring that no one was eating a loved one. she was murdered by a man driven out of his mind by the experience who began to eat her although there was ample other ‘food’ available. in retrospect and in consideration of fred’s original post, i wonder how he was treated by the law, but i have not the intestinal fortitude to go look it up now.

        • Xena says:

          @fauxmccoy. One thing I’ve wondered about when it came to pioneers such as the Donners, is why they did not consider the experience of Native Americans where they were travelling. Native Americans knew when to hunt and how to preserve food in order to survive the winters,

          I do remember reading somewhere that U.S. laws did not apply west of the Continental Divide and pioneers were left to their own form of justice.

          • fauxmccoy says:

            xena – you make an excellent point. as an anthropologist who concentrated specifically on native american cultures in northern california, i can tell you that they spent their summers precisely where the donner party was stranded and summered in the valley where i live. they led very good lives until being invaded. california indians, compared to those of the plains states and the eastern states had considerably more leisure time because of plentiful food resources and temperate climates.

            the donner party chose unwisely to head out over what is almost unpassable terrain (sheer granite heading straight uphill) rather late for what would have been considered ‘safe’ and were caught in an early storm and never made it any further until spring.

          • Xena says:

            xena – you make an excellent point. as an anthropologist who concentrated specifically on native american cultures in northern california, i can tell you that they spent their summers precisely where the donner party was stranded and summered in the valley where i live.

            Fauxmccoy, thank you so much for sharing this. I’m a fan of “Survivor” and one thing that often makes me laugh is when the people talk about being hungry. It’s not laughing “at” them but rather, wondering if they asked themselves how natives survived. One season had an Oriental contestant who recognized plants and his tribe was not hungry.

          • I recall reading somewhere within the last six months that a member of a tribe witnessed what they were doing and recoiled in horror. He reported back to his tribe and basically told them they were monsters.

            I don’t believe he knew they were out of food and surviving on cannibalism. I think he thought they were cannibals.

            He told the tribe, “they eat each other.”

          • Xena says:

            I don’t believe he knew they were out of food and surviving on cannibalism. I think he thought they were cannibals.

            He told the tribe, “they eat each other.”

            I vaguely remember that. IIRC, it was because the thaw exposed bodies of cows and horses that had died, but the Pioneers chose to continue eating human flesh.

            Also, with a Native of the area surviving with food, he no doubt could not understand why they were without food. It reminds me of the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy” where different cultures collide.

    • Brown says:

      LOL.
      Hey McCoy, how r u?

      • fauxmccoy says:

        doing alright, blushed-brown. cold weather is settling in which messes with my various disabilities, but it is a familiar pattern. hope you are doing well and glad you appreciated my little story.

        • blushedbrown says:

          I’m so glad to hear you are doing alright. I hope the new meds are ok and you are getting your rest.
          Missed you around here
          ; ^ )

  21. Ina says:

    Hunger can make people lose their humanity I suppose. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/sep/25/leningrad-city-under-siege-review ” Leningrad, 1942: some women resorted to cannibalism to get protein to keep their children alive. ”

    http://listverse.com/2008/12/19/top-10-cases-of-human-cannibalism/ The urge to survive maybe is a mitigating (I do hope I use the right word here) circumstance, as for other reasons, it is a more severe crime (I think?). So maybe hunger is a factor for a second degree sentence?

    • Dave says:

      Are you suggesting that George Zimmerman was hungry? Well…40 cents won’t buy a whole lot of food…

      • Ina says:

        lol Hm, no I was suggesting that hunger can drive a person to be unhuman. So, like with selfdefense, there is a factor that should be taken in consideration when people are desperate for food (perhaps) and still the law has to punish the killers. GZ also claimed he defended himself and is going to be judged for the second degree murder, not first. But if it was not self defense, as could be proven, I suppose it is first degree. jmo! (I wonder what will happen then. New trial?)

    • Dave says:

      I agree with the final decision of the judges in this case (in spite of some outrageous irregularities in the judicial process). Murder is murder. Hunger–even life-threatening hunger–does not excuse murder but it can be a mitigating factor in sentencing.

      • This case best illustrates the principle of mitigating evidence and the importance of giving judges flexibility to impose a sentence that is appropriate to the harm inflicted.

        This is one reason why I oppose minimum mandatory sentences.

        • Lonnie Starr says:

          I’m with you there. There are various reasons why the law cannot be obeyed, even if a person knew what it was (we can’t expect able seamen to be well versed in the law, can we?), time, circumstances, personal condition, on and on all have an impact on how and what should have taken place as opposed to what did take place. Judges need the flexibility to ensure that equity at law is preserved, since that has an effect of preserving the protection of law for all who need it.

          “The law, is the law”, maybe true, even while it is intolerable at the same time. A body of law that is forced to take intolerable positions time after time, will very quickly cease to be effective.

    • ed nelson says:

      Ina, you made me see something!

  22. thejbmission says:

    Professor,
    When I read this article, I immediately thought of this case, another death at sea.

    In July 2000, a boat hand Alvin Latham was accused of killing the shrimp boat captain over a life jacket during a storm at sea. This was the story as told by Plaquemines PD.

    http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20135600,00.html

    And later discussed on CNN’s Greta Van Susterns’ show.

    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0007/24/bp.00.html

    Later this story was featured on a program called “Burden of Proof”. During trial Latham’s defense attorney Peter Barbee showed the jury how the Plaquemines parish sheriff’s office coerced Latham into a confession. IIRC the interrogation was atrocious. It was obvious that the detectives were bullying a mentally challenged man. Latham’s intelligence was compared to that of Forrest Gump. He had an IQ of 74. Latham was acquitted thanks to the hard work of his tenacious attorney Peter Barbee who did an outstanding job.

    Here’s a little snipped of a newspaper article with pictures.
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1817&dat=20020918&id=nSMeAAAAIBAJ&sjid=_6cEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5117,6220060


    And because these type of interrogations happen everyday, somewhere in America, we should all be aware that the prosecution’s theory isn’t always the right one.

    JMO

  23. thejbmission says:

    ooops, sorry Professor about the links. I guess 3 links are over the limit.

  24. Malisha says:

    I think the “disgust” factor with respect to cannibalism is inborn in us, but so are many other things that are natural to us but that can certainly give way when we are sick. Starvation makes people sick, as does prolonged, unrelievable anxiety. So if you’re in a lifeboat for long enough to be in the throes of starvation, exposure, and high anxiety (and I’m sure there are a few etceteras), the emotions that would ordinarily be operating in you would inevitably change.

    I remember having a dream once; I think it was one of two prescient dreams I have ever had in my life. I was with my kid and he was about six in the dream. We were running through some kind of maze-like structure, with quite bizarre and graphic dangers in it. At one point I threw him into some sort of cabinet or cabinet-like structure as a large cat (lion, tiger, like that) appeared from somewhere, like that stupid scene where the raptor is about to eat the kids in “Jurassic Park.” No weapons here or there, no weapons, nothing I could break off and use as a weapon, what to use, what to use — but then I grabbed a sheaf of papers and rolled the papers into a cone and jabbed at the cat’s face with it and he recoiled and ran. I announced, in English (probably even “spoke in my sleep”): SOMETHING STINKS IN THE PAPERS!

    The next day I made a trip to the Circuit Court File section. I called up my case and went through paper by paper. I saw that a lawyer had been withdrawn on October 1, and then SERVED on October 10, and then re-withdrawn on November 14. So the judge had deliberately entered an order that had never been legally served. I would not have found it but for that dream. And in the dream, it was the DISGUST that made the dangerous beast recede.

    For many years I thought about that dream and the relationships between fear, disgust, revelation, self-protection, and energy. To be perfectly frank, now that I have reached the last paragraph of this post, I can’t remember why the guys in the lifeboat dealing with their hunger and their emotions brought this dream back to me. :mrgreen:

  25. colin black says:

    Wicked case of the munchies……….According to both news reports and Wikipedia. bath salts were thought to be the cause, but nothing showed up in his systme but marijuana – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami_cannibal_attack Remember the Argentinian St Patricks rugby club there plain crashed in the Andies…They survived by eating the flesh of there fellow passengers whom died in the crash,,Cut the flesh in thin strips an let it become desecrsted like jerky as it dried on a peice of mettal in the weak sun.They had no means of makeing fire…………

  26. FlipSide says:

    And what good or protection did the body of common law produce from this ruling?

    Nothing.

    But in this day and age, everyone projects so much of their own evil onto others, that most would probably think the survivors actually enjoyed the above described horrors.

  27. Rachael says:

    Professor, Malisha, Xena – SOMEBODY help me with this statute of frauds, Berg rule and battle of the forms stuff. LOL

    • Malisha says:

      Rachel, tell me what state the research is supposed to come from, what the question is about the statute of frauds, maybe one paragraph. I have access to a legal database. Let’s see what I can come up with. :idea:

      • Rachael says:

        My note under the Professor’s response. Thanks. I like doing this when I know the rules, it is like playing puzzles, but this last stuff in my class, I’m just not getting.

    • The Statute of Frauds is a statute that requires certain types of contracts to be in writing or they are void.

      For example, a contract for the sale of real estate must be in writing or it’s void.

      Wiki has it covered here.

      • Rachael says:

        Yes I ubderstand that. Just having trouble analyzing contracts and applying everything to csample cases in IRAC form. We have 10 of these essay apply to law problems and the first 7 wete easy, #8 I’m dealing with and 9 & 10 are awful. The first ones werw about competency, minors ratifying contracts, agw of majority stuff, frau, misrepresentation, physical/economic distress. Easy stuff. But these last 2-3 are killing me.

      • Rachael says:

        That’s a good link Professor. Thanks.

  28. Rachael says:

    Sorry for the spelling errors above, it was texted from my phone. I have fat fingers and the letters on my phone are very small (for me, anyway).

  29. Digger says:

    As I remember George Zimmerman weighed around 200 lbs at the time on February 26th, 2012. I may have missed the figure but in
    the comments around the blogs I haven’t been able to determine exactly what the figure is that he gained to. From 200 to what? A
    lot of fat calling but not sure if these remarks are referring to his being medicated or just his diet. Doesn’t prednisone add weight by
    water retention in most cases. I guess there are other drugs that do the same and his activities probably are quite limited. Family’s good cooking can help too.

    • Rachael says:

      Antidepressants can, as well as comfort eating and vegetation due to depression. But so far, being overweight isn’t a crime. At least not yet, but it seems they are working on it.

    • Jun says:

      I also believe George slimming down and wearing oversized suits was part of his scheming and manipulation to try to appear un-scary

  30. Malisha says:

    Which family’s good cooking? I don’t want to think about what’s gonna happen now that twinkies are going out of business!

  31. Digger says:

    PARKER, who was eaten, was the one who PROPOSED that one of the four should die for food for the other three.

  32. Malisha says:

    This is Malisha proposing a contest. This time there will be a real prize, an item of holiday decor, as yet un-chosen so as yet un-described. Here’s the contest.

    You know how the “New Yorker” magazine has these fabulous cartoons? You write the caption for some set-up they put in the magazine and then somebody wins? Well this will be in reverse. I propose a contest to draw the best cartoon (and LLMPapa, Trent Sawyer and MarinadeDave can submit videos instead of cartoons) that have somewhere in them:

    1. Santa Claus;
    2. Either Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or another reindeer;
    3. Any other characters associated with Christmas such as Mrs. Claus, Scrooge, but not religious characters.
    4. A Christmas scene but all messed up, things broken, smashed, as in the backdrop for “You ruined Christmas” kind of thing; and
    5. George Zimmerman (but NO MEMBER OF THE TRAYVON MARTIN FAMILY or anyone associated with his family).

    The caption: “He is claiming it was ELF DEFENSE”

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