“Embracing cannibalism”? THE NEW YORK TIMES July 2022 (and the backlash)

I guess it was only a matter of time before cannibalism became part of the culture wars. A light-hearted article in the New York Times July 23 by freelance writer Alex Beggs looked at the undeniable plethora of cannibalism narratives in contemporary movies, TV series, books and news reports, including the TV series Yellowjackets and the recent novel A Certain Hunger by Chelsea Summers, in which a (female) restaurant critic develops a taste for (male) human flesh. The article asserted:

“Turns out, cannibalism has a time and a place. In the pages of some recent stomach-churning books, and on television and film screens, Ms. Summers and others suggest that that time is now.”

Alex Begg has also written for Bon Appétit magazine, making her well qualified to write about food, of whatever provenance. Cooking shows are full of lumps of meat being baked and braised and broiled and smothered in sauces; why not add humans to the livestock list? There certainly are billions of us.

The appearance of cannibalism in secular culture reflects the fading of traditional morality. As Dostoevsky warned in The Brothers Karamazov, without a belief in “immortality” (implying divine judgement), “everything would be lawful, even cannibalism”. Our reflexive distaste for cannibalism (and our fascination with it) comes from the belief that humans are somehow not animals, or animals that have transcended animality – it all comes back to the Biblical statement that we are made in “the image of God”, whatever that means.

Such a belief, with or without support from on high, is called anthropocentrism, or sometimes speciesism, and is maintained by the practice of killing other animals in ever increasing numbers, to prove our superiority. Jacques Derrida called that “carnivorous virility”, but what happens when the lust to kill outruns the limits of anthropocentrism and is instead turned back on fellow humans? We have people who see humans as just another edible species, like Sawney Bean, Sweeney Todd, Albert Fish, Ed Gein, Jeffrey Dahmer and of course Hannibal Lecter. Not all of those were real people, and not all the facts about the real ones are real facts, but one fact remains: humans are animals, and animals are made of meat. When a society reaches a point where the old ethical agreements are disintegrating, it can either forge new ones or dissolve into chaos, war and, yes, cannibalism. At a time when the news is full of pandemics, climate change, famine, school shootings and political turmoil, is it so surprising that cultural representations show us eating each other?

Did I mention culture wars? Those who despise the New York Times (a certain and fairly large section of America apparently) came out with their anti-cannibalism guns blazing (they like guns, love meat, don’t like cannibals – it does seem a little inconsistent.)

Rod Dreher, a senior editor of The American Conservative opined:

“It’s a sign that our culture and civilization has become so decadent, so enamored by sensation, that we actually fetishize eating death…. We now live in a Culture of Death, in which we regard books, television, and film drama about the eating of human beings as pleasurable, as exciting.”

On Twitter, reactions poured in such as that of writer Emmanuel Rincón:

Zack Kanter tweeted 

“A zero sum worldview, irrational fear of overpopulation, and hatred of success will inevitably lead NYT journos to the literal conclusion of ‘eat the rich.’”

Journalist Tom Fitton tweeted

“NY Times, taking a break from promoting the mass killing of the unborn through abortion, promotes cannibalism.”

Others linked the article back to the QAnon mythology of Democrats torturing and eating children (particularly Hillary).

American Thinker said (under the headline “Cannibal Communists Crave Kids”):

“maybe there was more to that Pizzagate conspiracy than I realized!”

Many had clearly not even bothered to read the article:

And a blessedly brief journalist, Sameera Khan, tweeted

“THIS IS SATANISM”

Greg Gutfeld on his high rating Fox talk show (if you haven’t seen him, imagine a fairy waved a wand and turned The Colbert Report into a real boy) took the opportunity to pack every cannibal pun imaginable (“it’s an ATE part series”) into a short segment, as well as several digs at other shows run by Liberals such as Samantha Bee, and their regular target, CNN. Gutfeld accuses comedian Tom Shillue (formerly of The Daily Show!) of thinking he would be delicious, because he is all white meat.

The gist of much of the criticism was that the Liberal elite are trying to normalise cannibalism, as a way to – what? Reduce overpopulation? Feed the hungry? The website Editorials 360 accuses a “globalist cabal” of planning to make us all eat insects and humans, and drink recycled sewage, a fiendish plot “to enslave, denigrate and dehumanize humanity.”

The website TMZ recalled that the movie Soylent Green was set in 2022, which was then fifty years in the future, but is now, well, now. Are we in fact normalising cannibalism, because it is the logical end-point of voracious consumerism?

Soylent Green is a good place to start the analysis of this “normalizing” phenomenon. Even after fifty years, it is still the movie many people name when cannibalism comes up in discussion (as it seems to do quite a lot whenever thecannibalguy is around). The movie [spoiler alert] was set in 2022 New York, which is portrayed as part of a failed state, in which overpopulation and global warming has led to a chronic shortage of food, leading the authorities (secretly) to grind up humans who have died (or agreed to be euthanised) and convert them into nutritious protein crackers called Soylent Green. Setting it in 2022 was a bit pessimistic, but let us remember that the world’s human population has almost doubled since the movie was made fifty years ago, and that CO2 concentration was 330 parts per million in 1973, compared to around 420 now. Are we entering a time when our voracious consumerism will so deplete the planet that, as Cormac McCarthy suggested, the only thing left to eat will be each other?

Chelsea Summers put it in a political context, relating cannibalism to capitalism:

“Cannibalism is about consumption and it’s about burning up from the inside in order to exist.”

The magazine Evie, which describes itself as “the sister you never had” explains the extraordinary growth of interest in cannibalism stories by referring to the quasi-religious conceits of anthropocentrism:

“Cannibalism is the extreme conclusion of the idea that humans – and their bodies – do not have inherent value that demands respect. American society has been traveling down this philosophical road for a while. It started with legalizing abortion: After Roe v. Wade in 1973, any baby born or killed was just a “choice” at the mercy of their parents. They were not recognized as having inherent value with rights to their body or their life. More recently were the mandatory lockdowns, mask wearing, and vaccinations for Covid-19. Again, a lack of respect for human bodies and for our ability to make decisions for ourselves occurred. The encroachment on human dignity could potentially continue to progress into cannibalism – where the bodies of others have no inherent meaning, value, or sacredness that separates them from the animals we do rightfully and naturally eat.”

Lots of problems with that explanation, not least no attempt to explain the “inherent value” of humans or the assumption that we can eat other animals “rightfully and naturally.” But it is a pretty good summation of the unexamined assumptions at the heart of most writings on cannibalism, or carnivorism, or vivisection, or hunting – the idea that humans are somehow more than animals, and less than edible, while every other species on the planet is stripped of all moral value.

However, talking about cannibalism can put people off the slaughter treadmill altogether. When fact checkers came to ask Chelsea Summers about the way the book’s anti-heroine gastronomically prepares her murdered lovers, their questions about the intricacies of human butchery so disturbed her that she went “full raw vegan for two weeks.” Tobe Hooper gave up meat while making The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, saying “the heart of the film was about meat; it’s about the chain of life and killing sentient beings”. He also claimed that Guillermo Del Toro, no shrinking violet himself in abject filmmaking, gave up meat after seeing it. Bryan Fuller, creator of Hannibal, gave up eating meat during filming of the first season, telling Entertainment Weekly he had been:

“writing about cannibalism for the last three years but also doing considerable research on the psychology of animals, and how sophisticated cows and pigs and the animals that we eat actually are.”

Shows like Hannibal and The Santa Clarita Diet show human flesh as “just meat.” But to do that, they have to (their legal departments insist) come up with ways of simulating the human flesh without actually killing people (or digging them up like Ed Gein). The Yellowjackets prop team chose to use venison (think Bambi). But, the showrunners warned,

“they’ll have to find an alternative for future episodes, because many in its cast are vegan.”

Portrayals of cannibalism, whether actual or fictional, can make some people hungry, and turn others against eating flesh.

Gutfeld points out that:

“In the mind of the NY Times, it’s probably more humane to eat a human being than an animal.”

By “animal”, Gutfeld presumably means every multicellular, eukaryotic organisms in the biological kingdom Animalia except one – Homo sapiens. We know we are a species of great ape, but spend much of our time pretending we don’t know that.

Being humane, being ethical, is largely about respect and consent. Which was precisely the defence offered by Armin Meiwes when arrested for eating a man who had made it very clear he wanted to be eaten. Cannibalism texts, in ever-increasing numbers, joyfully confound the human/animal divide, and show the human body as edible flesh. So it is not surprising that such questions will be raised, and that, as the NYT said, “that time is now.”

However, Ted Cruz, who likes cannibalism jokes as much as the next meal, came up with a brilliant two-word solution that will put people off human flesh for a considerable time:

Marcus Mumford and Steven Spielberg: CANNIBAL (2022)

Does Steven Spielberg make music videos? Well, not usually. But he whipped out his phone for this recording of a new single from Marcus Mumford (of Mumford & Sons) – his first solo venture, and the first song from his soon to be released (September 16) album called (Self-Titled). The album is produced by Blake Mills and featuring Brandie Carlile, Phoebe Bridgers, Clairo and Monica Martin.

Fans of Mumford & Sons have been perturbed to hear about Marcus’ solo album, wondering if it denotes the end of a great band, particularly considering that founding member Winston Marshall left the band in 2021 after calling controversial journalist Andy Ngo’s book Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy “brave”. But Marcus has confirmed that the band will not be disbanding and he will not be leaving, saying his solo album has the “full blessing and permission of the band”, who wrote on Instagram that:

“We are excited about the next chapter of Mumford & Sons, we’re working on what that looks like, but for now we hope you can enjoy this person, our friend, being a human being.”

Anyhow, the first song we have seen from the album is called CANNIBAL (the clip is at the top of this blog) which is lucky, as otherwise I would have had no excuse to crap on about it on this cannibalism blog. Marcus stated on his Instagram account that he had faced and danced with “demons” for a long time during COVID-19 isolation, and wrote “Cannibal” in January 21.

Rolling Stone wrote that the video was shot on July 3 in a high school gym in New York. Steven Spielberg “directed his first music video, in one shot, on his phone”.

Abby Jones on the Consequence website describes the song:

“Cannibal is a somber, rootsy tune that feels a bit like a pared-down version of Mumford & Sons’ arena-sized folk rock — that is, until around the three-minute mark, when the song transforms from an acoustic ballad into a rousing barnburner.”

The song is about the cannibalistic nature of relationships. The one described in the song appears to be complicated and toxic, arousing love and hate. For example,

I can still taste you and it kills me
That there’s still some sick part of it that thrills me
That my own body keeps betraying me
There is such power that it may destroy me, but it compels me

Camille Paglia in her controversial book Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson describes the sparagmos rite of the Dionysian cult in which the body of a god, or the animal (human or other) representing it, was torn apart and eaten raw, otherwise known as omophagy. Rending the body of the god and spreading the parts acted to inseminate the earth, so was an act of love, and Paglia suggests that oral sex retains a suggestion of omophagy – raw cannibalism.

What is this connection between love and cannibalism? Hannibal Lecter of course has an answer, pointing out (in the episode where everyone is sleeping with everyone) that

“farmers who hand-raise lambs can love them and still send them to slaughter.”

Metaphoric cannibalism, particularly in terms of affectionate or sexual imagery, is a vast topic that cannot be adequately covered here. Suffice it to quote Italo Calvino in his book Under the Jaguar Sun perfectly summed up what he called “universal cannibalism”:

“…our teeth began to move slowly, with equal rhythm, and our eyes stared into each other’s with the intensity of serpents’ — serpents concentrated in the ecstasy of swallowing each other in turn, as we were aware, in our turn, of being swallowed by the serpent that digests us all, assimilated ceaselessly in the process of ingestion and digestion, in the universal cannibalism that leaves its imprint on every amorous relationship.”

CANNIBALcould be about the challenge of living and continuing to love someone during interminable COVID isolation. But at least one review suggests it is about childhood trauma and abuse, and posts a trigger warning. If that is one of your triggers, approach with caution. Such truths are hard, sometimes impossible to talk about: “when I began to tell, it became thе hardest thing I ever said out loud. Thе words got locked in my throat.”

I can still taste you, and I hate it
That wasn’t a choice in the mind of a child and you knew it
You took the first slice of me and you ate it raw
Ripped it in with your teeth and your lips like a cannibal
You fucking animal!

Sigmund Freud wrote that the two original prohibitions of humankind are incest and cannibalism, and it sounds a lot like Marcus Mumford has definitively linked them in this piece. The song finishes with a cry of pain: “Help me know how to begin again!”

Is Anne Hathaway a cannibal?

The short answer, as far as anyone who knows anything about it knows, is NO.

The long answer is still no, but involves a Twitter experiment, which turned into a viral storm.

It started on Saturday, June 25, when a fan posted a picture of Anne Hathaway (below) from Elle France magazine. When I last checked, this post had over 300,000 likes, 23,000 retweets and 4,600 quote tweets.

That’s where it got complicated, because while most of the comments declared undying love for her, one of the quote tweets, from a user named hotpriestt, stated 

“every tweet about anne hathaway going viral like police didn’t find human remains and evidence of cannibalism in her LA home that she sold in 2013”

The original quote tweet was later deleted, but others have since tweeted the same, rather confusing, text.

This understandably caused some consternation, since we are all sure that everything printed on the Internet generally, and Twitter in particular, is invariably true.

One tweeter demanded: SHOW PROOF, to which the original tweeter replied with a picture of the supposed house in which the purported cannibalism had taken place. Not sure that evidence would stand up in a court of law as proof, but apparently it was pretty convincing for some Twitter users.

Some thought that the fact she never seems to get any older indicates that she is eating human flesh, or at least bathing in the blood of virgins like Elizabeth Báthory. Or else eating human fetuses, like Mrs Li in Dumplings.

One Hathaway fan declared that she “doesn’t look like” she had eaten people. Another replied:

“What are you meant to look like when u eat people?”

After leaving this internationally important debate to brew for a few hours, the tweet’s author returned to Twitter on June 26 to say:

Harvard University has provided no information to the media regarding this purported study, or any evidence that Anne Hathaway has any connection to cannibalism, and it seems unlikely that a University would involve itself in a study that sounds decidedly defamatory. Meanwhile, the user who posted the viral tweet cancelled their Twitter account.

So it was, amazingly, all a fake. One Twitter user admitted to having spent “15 minutes googling this shit.” Another admitted:

There’s a moral there somewhere.

Hathaway does have some odd eating habits though. She went vegan in 2011, not for ethical reasons but to lose weight for the role of Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. She kept it up until a dinner with Matt Damon during the filming of Interstellar in 2014, when she tried some fish and “my brain felt like a computer rebooting”.

That statement of course is somewhere between wishful thinking and deliberate obfuscation. She felt like fish and ate it without qualms, because she had not gone vegan in order to spare fish or other sentient animals from the agony of being farmed and killed, but simply for her own appearance. The idea that anything other than drugs can instantly affect the brain before even being digested, let alone distributed to the cells of the body, is absolute bullshit (which is also not vegan). To me, the fish story is the silliest untruth of this blog, more so than the cannibalism story.

 Hathaway went vegan again recently (raw vegan this time) to prepare for the role of Rebekah Neumann in the new series We Crashed, which premiered on Apple TV+ in March 2022. That didn’t stick either, and she is reportedly back on burgers.

So. Anne Hathaway is not a cannibal, in that she doesn’t knowingly eat human flesh. She is a mammal eating mammalian flesh though, so I guess that makes her (like most people) a kind of cannibal.

And after all, who knows what was in that burger?

Cannibalism News – IS THE UK ABOUT TO GO CANNIBAL?

If you have been in a shop recently, you will probably have noticed that a lot of shelves are empty, and what is there seems to have increased dramatically in price. Not just your normal inflation, this is part of a world-wide shortage of lots of things, but particularly food.

A major part of the problem is that the Ukraine is unable to ship wheat and cooking oils out of its main ports, due to Russia’s blockade. Lockdowns in China are also causing serious disruptions to supply chains.

The Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, warned on May 17 that is the world should brace for serious food price rises. He added soothingly

“Sorry for being apocalyptic, but that is a major concern.”

In a column for The Sunday TimesJeremy Clarkson, who knows a thing or two about prices (of cars anyway) stated

“I don’t pretend to be an expert in geopolitics any more than I pretend to be a farmer, but I really think the world has slipped into a pair of margarine trousers and is now hurtling down a well-watered slide into the pit of hunger, misery and death… Politicians say they are ‘monitoring the situation’, which means they aren’t doing anything at all, but one day they will have to because while people can live without heat or clothing or even sex, they cannot live without food. 
Hunger makes people eat their neighbours.”

The Guardian reports that around forty countries rely on Russia and Ukraine for more than half of their wheat imports, and some of those countries, such as Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, are among the poorest and most vulnerable in the world. 

Well, the Russians were glad to hear Clarkson, who they seem to imagine is one of the UK’s most respected commentators, warning about the consequences of aiding the Ukraine in its battles against the Russian army. TsargradTV – which is owned by Vladimir Putin-supporter Konstantin Malofeev – has used Clarkson’s comment in an article headed:

“Cold, Hunger, Cannibalism: London fell into its own Ukrainian pit”

The article was accompanied by a vision of a future London – two cavemen peering through some Union Jack flags.

If you needed any further proof that politics is just a slightly more polite form of cannibalism, another article earlier in the year reported that the former Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, had (before the invasion began),  advised President Volodymyr Zelensky not to hold direct talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

 “If Vladimir Zelensky starts negotiating independently with Vladimir Putin, he will eat him for breakfast.”

Maybe THAT will ameliorate the food shortages a bit.

Talking of food shortages and cannibalism, next week’s film review blog concerns just that. The 1970 film No Blade of Grass is set during a world-wide famine caused by a viral disease which destroys all grasses, including wheat, rice and maize. Like Soylent Green, made only a few years later, it posits a near future of too many people and not enough food, and the answer to that seems, well, obvious.

Food for thought?

THE UTAH CANNIBALS – Satanic Panic in Utah County

While we’re talking cannibalism investigations (it’s what we do on this blog), we’ve now got the Utah County Attorney going public to deny accusations that he and his wife are cannibals.

Here’s how it went down.

On June 1, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office (UCSO) sent a media release stating that:

Special Victims Unit Detectives and investigators from multiple county and federal agencies are investigating reports of ritualistic child sexual abuse from as far back as 1990.

The statement specified investigations into child sexual abuse and child sex trafficking that occurred in Utah County, Juab County, and Sanpete County between 1990 and 2010.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the UCSO stated that:

“We have gotten to the point where we believe we have been able to verify some of the information that we’ve been told.”

The Utah County Attorney, David Leavitt, held a press conference that day, calling for the resignation of Utah County Sheriff Mike Smith and for an investigation into his activities for misuse of taxpayer and county resources. He said that he had been wrongly accused of cannibalism, as well as the murder of small children.

Leavitt said that he had been provided a copy of an alleged witness statement from a person he called a “tragically mentally ill woman.”

“And for the first time in the reportedly 15 or 20 years since the report was given, I learned that my wife and I were part of those allegations, alleging that we were guilty of cannibalizing young children.”

Leavitt says the woman in question made sex abuse claims against 15 to 20 people before he was ever in office in Utah County. That case was dismissed, he said, because the allegations were deemed not credible by the special victims unit. He called the allegations “ludicrous” and “outlandish” and a “pack of lies.”

When asked whether Leavitt is a subject of that investigation, the sheriff responded: “We don’t talk about who is under investigation.”

But Leavitt insisted that the report names him. He believed the timing of the announcement from the sheriff’s office was suspicious, since Leavitt is running for re-election — and ballots are expected to go out next week.

“I am calling upon Sheriff Mike Smith to open his office to an outside investigation,” Leavitt said, “where outside, independent investigators are able to investigate and confirm or deny that documents from a debunked investigation from more than a decade ago were or were not used for political purposes in a Utah County Attorney’s race.”

Sheriff Smith said he won’t resign, and he doesn’t apologize for using county resources on the investigation. He stressed that this “was not a politically motivated investigation,” and that a year ago his office was contacted by people reporting crimes that were similar in nature to those brought up by Leavitt.

“Leavitt,” said Sheriff Smith, “is using his authority and his pulpit to bully, distract, and mischaracterize the facts of an ongoing investigation.”

The sheriff emphasized that while Leavitt focused on accusations of “cannibalism”, the primary investigation involves sexual abuse.

The only forum where Leavitt is publicly alleged to have been involved with the sex ring is purportedly published online by a man who Leavitt’s office is prosecuting for a 2008 rape case. Prosecutors allege that the man faked his death in the United States, and is now living in Scotland under a different name. He has denied, through his attorney, that he is the person prosecutors allege he is.

That website claims that County Sheriff Sgt. Spencer Cannon confirmed that Leavitt was the head of a “widespread ritual sex abuse ring in Utah.” Cannon said Wednesday that he spoke to the man, but never confirmed to him that Leavitt or any other specific persons were suspected.

Conspiracy theories are not a new phenomenon, and they have often involved cannibalism, often in the form of drinking blood, such as the blood libel accusations levelled at Jews during the Middle Ages, and resurfacing in the development of antisemitic movements from the nineteenth century until the Nazis, and even present day.

Since the 1980s, accusations of “ritual sex abuse” have been rife in the United States, and in Utah in particular. The US has seen over 12,000 alleged cases of satanic ritual abuse, leading to the coining of a new term: SATANIC PANIC. Satanic cults were said to have engaged in bizarre sexual acts such as necrophilia, forced ingestion of semen, blood and faeces, cannibalism, orgies, liturgical parody such as pseudo-sacramental use of faeces and urine; infanticide, sacrificial abortions to eat fetuses, and human sacrifice. Accusations of Satanic groups engaging in torture and cannibalism of children were extensively made during recent US elections. The event called “#Pizzagate” arose from QAnon claims that Democrats were torturing and killing children in the basement of a (basementless) pizza shop in Washington DC, following which a dude with a rifle entered the shop to save the supposed victims.

Proponents of the conspiracy theory #Frazzledrip believe that a video is circulating showing Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin, a former aide, ripping off a child’s face and wearing it as a mask before drinking the child’s blood in a satanic ritual sacrifice. Supposedly, the video was later found on the hard drive of Abedin’s former husband, Anthony Weiner, under the code name ‘Frazzledrip’. Snopes found the whole thing to be a giant fake.

Looking forward to hearing new and, hopefully, more original cannibalism stories in the mid-terms!

Cannibalism news May 2022, New York: The CHINESE ZODIAC KILLER

A man calling himself The Chinese Zodiac Killer has been arrested by the FBI in Jefferson County, New York for sending letters to media outlets, government offices including the White House, and other organisations, claiming he killed people, ate their flesh and that he plans to kill more, including an unidentified bus driver.

Jesse Bartlett, 46, of LaFargeville in Jefferson County was arrested on May 19 for allegedly mailing the letters to addresses in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.

U.S. Attorney Carla Freedman said that Bartlett allegedly mailed “threatening communications” to news organisations, government buildings, houses of worship and private businesses. Bartlett was charged with Mailing Threatening Letters. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and supervision of three years.

Bartlett, a school bus driver who, according to prosecutors, owns multiple firearms, was arrested after he was allegedly caught on surveillance cameras placing what appeared to be brown envelopes into U.S. Postal Service collection boxes. On May 12, the FBI filmed Bartlett dropping 21 envelopes into U.S. Postal Service boxes in Watertown and Clayton, and another 21 in the same Watertown bin on May 15. Further investigation found that the letters were consistent with those written by the so-called “Chinese Zodiac Killer.” Authorities said the letters were signed “Aleister Crowley,” a name that was also referenced in earlier Chinese Zodiac Killer letters, and presumably refers to the late English occultist and artist.

The letters said in part:

EVERY MONTH SINCE NOVEMBER I HAVE KILLED BOTH MALE AND FEMALES. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT I AM KILLING INDIVIDUALS WHOSE IDENTITIES ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO TRACK (I.E., HOMELESS, RUNAWAYS, ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS), AND DESTROYING ALL EVIDENCE SO EFFICIENTLY.

In August 2021, a letter was received by a retail company in Syracuse. In the letter, Bartlett allegedly stated:

“EACH MONTHLY LETTER CONTAINS MY CURRENT KILL COUNT – AND WHETHER OR NOT I FEASTED ON THE FLESH OF MY VICTIMS.”

Another letter sent to The Day newsroom pledged to enslave people in a “macabre paradice”, using the same misspelling as the original Zodiac. The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, along with New York State Police, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

The original Zodiac Killer stabbed or shot to death five people in Northern California in 1968 and 1969. He had sent taunting letters and cryptograms to police and newspapers that included astrological symbols. He did not eat anyone (human), as far as we know.

That original Zodiac Killer was never caught, but a group called The Case Breakers, a team of former journalists and law enforcement officers that investigates cold cases, said in October 2021 that they had identified the killer as a man who died in 2018, but authorities debunked the theory. The FBI and San Francisco Police Department both consider the Zodiac Killer murders open cases. The Times Union received a letter in 1973 saying:

YOU Were WRONG I AM NOT DEAD OR IN THE HOSPITAL I AM ALIVE AND WELL AND IM GOING TO START KILLING AGAIN Below is the NAME AND LOCATION OF MY NEXT VICTIM But you had Better hurry because I’m going to kill her August 10th at 5 P.M. when the shifts change. ALBANY is A nice Town.

The Chinese Zodiac Killer also inserted cryptic codes into his letters, which have not been interpreted (if, in fact, they are not simply gibberish.)

However, it seems very unlikely that this latest arrest is Chinese, the Zodiac Killer, or a cannibal killer, but simply a copycat who has added cannibalism to his modus operandi because, you know, it’s just so fashionable. Bartlett has not been charged with any homicide offences, although he was acquitted of the murder of a friend in 2010 after pleading self-defence. His main motivation seems to be recognition and celebrity, warning “I WILL MAKE AN EXAMPLE OF ANYONE WHO REFUSES TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC OF MY EXISTENCE”:

I HAVE ALREADY KILLED SOMEONE IN THE NEW YORK AREA. HEAR MY PROPHECY: I WILL KILL AGAIN.  HELL WANTS MORE SOULS. I AM A SEXUAL PREDATOR AND A KILLER AMONG THE LIVING. I AM NOT HIDING.  I AM VERY EASY TO FIND …BECAUSE I NEED TO BE FOUND. BUT I MUST TEST YOU.

Prosecutors also said Bartlett had stated that he is “a sexual predator” and is “on the hunt for your women at all times.” Bartlett is being held at the Albany County Jail, where he is awaiting psychiatric evaluation.

Although prosecutors do not seem to be pursuing any leads to do with murder or cannibalism, we may never know for sure what the Chinese Zodiac killer got up to. Could it be the case, as he wrote, that he is killing people whose identities are impossible to track (i.e. homeless, runaways, illegal immigrants), “AND DESTROYING ALL EVIDENCE SO EFFICIENTLY”?

Cannibalism is certainly a very efficient (and ecologically sustainable) way of destroying evidence.

Update: Idaho murder/cannibalism suspect deemed fit to face trial

In December, we covered the arrest of Oldtown man James David Russell, 39, for cannibalism and murder in relation to the September 10 death of David Flaget. Police had seized evidence including a bloodied microwave oven, a glass bowl and a bloodied knife and duffel bag. There was evidence that heat had been applied to the body of the victim and body parts were missing, speculation being that the body parts had been cooked in the microwave.

Court proceedings were paused in late October when the Magistrate found Russell unfit to stand trial for first-degree murder and ordered him to the Idaho Security Medical Program for a mental health evaluation. This has finally cleared him to stand trial.

The full report from December is at this page:

Idaho is the only state of the United States which has laws against cannibalism.

The full case file is available here.

Cremation cannibalism: April 2022 News, India

Guwahati, 15 April 2022: A man has confessed to eating human meat in a crematorium in Bidyapur, in Assam’s Bongaigaon district. The man, identified as Satish Chandra Rai, is a resident of Bongaigaon.

Villagers reported that they had seen the man taking portions of a dead body at a local Hindu cremation ground and later saw him eating them. The villagers caught the man and have handed him over to police.

Satish allegedly admitted to being inebriated, and consuming half of the body’s meat. The dead body had been consigned to the flames, but not completely burnt, as the man was able to find edible flesh still attached.

Police have arrested the man, and are interrogating him at the police station.  Locals are now demanding that he be ousted from the village by the village council.

Like other places, cannibalism happens in India, even though it is a largely vegetarian country.

In 2020, a blind couple in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur district allegedly had a seven-year-old girl killed so they could eat her organs.

In 2017, Sunil Rama Kuchkoravi of Kolhapur murdered his mother after she refused to give him money to buy liquor. He later chopped up parts of her body and ate them, after frying them in a pan.

A (supposedly) forthcoming movie called A CANNIBAL MIND follows the life of Raja Ram Mohan, who allegedly murdered, mutilated and ate the brains of over 40 victims.

Back in Assam, in 2012 tea workers killed the owner of the plantation where they worked and allegedly ate his flesh.

It can happen anywhere and, as our alleged drunk has shown us, human meat is pretty much the same as any other animal’s flesh. Particularly when cooked.

CANNIBAL SCHOOL – Mexican cartel recruits are being taught to eat rival sicarios

In the past 18 months, the war between CJNG (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion) and the Sinaloa cartels has been intensifying. Sinaloa is the largest, while CJNG is arguably the most violent.

The Mexican state of Zacatecas is their main battleground.

Sicarios (cartel assassins) on both sides fight for territory, and the profits from the production of synthetic drugs, particularly fentanyl, in that region.

They also profit mightily from kidnapping refugees trying to cross into the USA, and cooking the ones whose ransoms are not paid.

Violence in this war is not just done, but is seen to be done, with videos being released onto social media showing various atrocities, in order to demoralise the opposing cartel members. An earlier video involved a CJNG soldier using a spoon to remove the eyes of a captured rival.

A new video (widely and ironically known as “Sponsored By Adidas” due to the killers’ love of that brand of shoe) is circulating on the Internet now. It shows a soldier from the CJNG crouching over the disembowelled body of a man from a rival cartel, supposedly the Sinaloa. The man opens the corpse’s chest and removes an organ, either the heart of liver (some say a lung), and bites into it, then seems to offer it to the corpse to see if it wants a bite.

This seems to be the latest escalation of cartel violence. Before 2006, beheadings were unknown; but now there are dozens of beheadings every year in Mexico. How do you up the stakes from beheading? The previous video from a cartel, called “Funky Town” showed a live and conscious prisoner having his face flayed from his head, later to be sewn onto a soccer ball. But the big new thing for the cartels now seems to be cannibalism.

Man-eating appears to have become a requirement for new recruits to CJNG at its training camps or “cannibal schools.” One member of CJNG told a journalist that there is widespread cannibalism at the camps. Recruits are taught how to cut fingers and toes, and eat them They then graduate onto larger internal organs. He reported (anonymously) that:

“You have to do it without reacting or vomiting or you are beaten. If you didn’t want to [eat human flesh] they wouldn’t let you leave, they had you there.”

The video in question can be found on the Internet if you look hard enough. I am not posting links, because those who don’t want to see it might accidentally click, and those who do are gorehound enough to find it.

Why is cannibalism such a popular strategy for terrifying the enemy? Because there is no higher form of humiliation, no greater insult, than being killed, eaten, and then crapped out of the anus of your enemy.

TALIBAN OR TANIBAL: Afghan addicts turn to cannibalism?

In The Tempest, Shakespeare created a monstrous, malformed semi-human character named Caliban, the son of a witch, who is accused of trying to rape Miranda, the daughter of Prospero, the magician that took over Caliban’s island after losing the dukedom of Milan. Caliban has fascinated scholars over the years, with his name often taken to be an anagram of “canibal”, which was then starting to become the preferred term for humans who ate other humans, formerly known as “anthropophagi”. The word “canibal” or “cannibal” came from Christopher Columbus’ clumsy rendering of the name of the Caribs, a tribe he came across in the Lesser Antilles, and who, he was told, were man-eaters. Caliban, then, can perhaps be seen as a satire on the way colonial people were misrepresented and slandered by the imperialist explorers of the time. Post-colonialist versions of the play, including Julie Taymor’s version (you might remember her superb version of Titus), showed Caliban more as a “noble savage”, representing the indigenous inhabitants so rudely displaced from their homes during the period of European expansionism.

As Elvis said, “I said all that to say all this”. The semi-human monsters of our time are plentiful, and include neo-Nazis, whoever is on the other side of your political divide, and all the world’s various terrorist groups. One group that we (the West) went to war with (and lost) was the Taliban, who have taken over Afghanistan, a country now sliding into economic ruin and famine, since the withdrawal of international relief funds. This is not to say that there is anything noble about the Taliban – they are bunch of vicious thugs who apply mediaeval forms of punishment in their courts and slaughter, starve or otherwise deny basic rights to women and ethnic minorities. They are, in a sense, Caliban, and the media never tire of detailing their atrocities and transgressions, whether proven or dubious. The latest is, of course, the old favourite, cannibalism. Yep, the fourth cannibalism case we’ve reported so far in 2022.

Al Jazeera reported back in October 2021 that the Taliban, back in power after being routed by the US and its allies twenty years earlier, were arresting drug addicts and locking them up to make them go “cold turkey” (what they call “detoxification”). Former guerrilla fighters now raid Kabul’s drug-ravaged streets and bridges, rounding up hundreds of homeless men addicted to heroin and methamphetamines. They are beaten and marched to treatment centres as part of the Taliban’s pledge to clean up the drug trade.

Most of the world’s heroin comes from the vast poppy fields of Afghanistan and, while the crop has financed the Taliban for decades, it has also supplied cheap drugs to the domestic market, leading to a major problem of addiction. The Avicenna Medical Hospital for Drug Treatment, formerly the US military base Camp Phoenix, is chronically short of the alternative opioids, buprenorphine and methadone, typically used to treat heroin addiction. There is no money; the doctors have not been paid for months.

And there is little or no food. The Daily Mail has reported, via a Danish journalist who asserts that he spoke to a recovering addict, that the patients are sleeping three to a bed. They are forced to eat grass just to stave off hunger pangs, and there are “rumours they have resorted to eating cats and even cannibalism in order to survive.” One addict told the journalist:

“They killed a man and made a fire. They took his intestines and ate them.”

In scenes reminiscent of last century’s genocides, men in prison uniforms sit in despair. Denmark Radio reported that a prisoner told them that:

“People ate cats out in the park yesterday. One cut off the cat’s head and ate it.”

Of course, one report from a tabloid does not a cannibalism outbreak make. But it is undeniable that the sudden collapse of the old regime and sweeping to power of the Taliban has been followed by political and economic chaos as Western funding was suddenly withdrawn, and relief agencies struggle with ways to supply support without simply enriching the new Taliban Calibans. Where there is starvation, be it on a shipwrecked lifeboat, a crashed plane, a region facing famine, or a future post-apocalyptic landscape, there will eventually be cannibalism. People will do what they must in order to stay alive, be they Caliban or Prospera.

Wouldn’t you?