A while back, I discussed a case of necrobestiality. The hope for exoneration of a fellow caught in flagrante delicto with a deer’s carcass hinged on the definition of an animal: was a carcass still an animal? When does a carcass cease to be an animal? What if it’s dismembered?
One time is a surprise; twice is a pattern; three times, if we should get there, suggests a zeitgeist and will demand an article. We’re at two now:
Bay County Circuit Judge Joseph K. Sheeran ruled Friday that even though Michigan law does not explicitly define sex with a dead dog as a crime, charges against a Saginaw man [Ronald E. Kuch, 45] will stand….
[DA Katheryn] Fehrman asked Sheeran to overrule District Judge Craig D. Alston, who found probable cause that a crime had been committed and that Kuch was the perpetrator.
But Sheeran said Fehrman’s interpretation of the sodomy law, which outlaws ”crimes against nature” and bestiality as well, was off base. He said she ”attempts to use textualization to read the meaning out of the statute and argue that morality has no place in the law.”
Fehrman had said in previous written and oral arguments that a dead dog is not an animal and therefore cannot be violated against its will.
Sheeran said the purpose of the sodomy law is not to protect a specific victim, necessarily, but ”to prevent people from debasing and dehumanizing themselves.” Such laws also protect society, Sheeran said, and ”prevents people from acting like animals themselves.”
Sheeran also upheld the indecent exposure charge. He said it was irrelevant whether the patch of woods where the alleged crime committed was public or private property.
”There was a substantial risk that someone might be offended.”
”If he didn’t want to be observed, why did he commit it during the day near a daycare center?” Sheeran said, saying that Kuch didn’t commit the act ”accidentally or inadvertently.”
The definition of an animal for a DA seems to depend on whether or not it has a will that can be violated, which seems to bring the animal in line with the status of a human. In other words, bestiality is, so far as the DA is concerned, a sub-species of rape; either that, or the DA is erasing the line altogether between bestiality and rape. Her interpretation concerns the victim. For the judge, bestiality seems to be more in line with medieval conceptions of it: a loss of human status. His interpretation concerns the perpetrator. Oddly, the judge implies that acting like an animal includes having sex with dead animals. Maybe he has access to ethologies that I don’t.
The article practically writes itself. I just need to get hold of the court papers for both cases and hope for a third. No doubt I’d draw in Paul Morrissey’s extraordinary film Flesh for Frankenstein (you’ll see why I’ve linked to the quotation page) as well as the (no doubt spurious) reports of necrophilia/anthropophagy of the Fore in New Guinea: the incident I’m remembering I have in my notes, but, believe me, it’s far too disgusting to quote here. I wouldn’t say no to more suggestions, particularly for bibliography (will I finally have to read a lot of Bataille?).
(image of Lefty Frizzell, who famously sang about a man “ashamed to show his face in Saginaw, Michigan.” I am in no way suggesting that Frizzell had anything to do with necrobestiality. Sheesh.)