Why don't Cannibals eat clowns?

Because they taste funny.

Chris Bertram asks whether libertarians - Samizdatistas in particular - will find it difficult to come up with principled objections to the following case:

In one of the most extraordinary trials in German criminal history, the self-confessed cannibal admitted that he had met a 43-year-old Berlin engineer, Bernd Brandes, after advertising on the internet, and had chopped him up and eaten him.


The unprecedented case has proved problematic for German lawyers who discovered that cannibalism is not illegal in Germany.

Instead, they have charged Meiwes with murder for the purposes of sexual pleasure and with "disturbing the peace of the dead".

The accused, however, has a unique defence: that his victim actually agreed to be killed and eaten.

Crucial to the case is a gruesome videotape made by Meiwes of the entire evening, during which Brandes apparently makes clear his consent.

It's definitely an interesting case, and would make for a great episode of Law and Order, but I don't see why it has any particular relevance for libertarians. As I wrote in the comment thread,

Why is this a tough case for libertarians? Why would libertarians even want to come up with principled objections? Yes, its disturbing, yes, it violates the yuck factor, but why should any of us care what other people do if they don?t effect our lives in any meaningful way?

The only interesting issue, as I see it, is the one Nicholas mentioned: how does the legal system determine whether or not this act was consensual? It seems likely the paternalists will argue that this act was nonconsensual by definition, because only an insane person would allow himself to be eaten, and an insane person is (supposedly) unable to grant consent.

And of course, by way of reductio creep, this same argument is applied to other areas: suicide, smoking, drinking, fast food; you name it: if it?s fun, sinful, and not entirely safe, the nettling nannies are already trying to ban it.

After all, if these obviously irrational people were as rational and knowledgeable as the paternalists, they would certainly reject such sinful pleasures. In fact, they should be thanking the paternalists for taking such wonderful care of them.

Thank you, paternalists, from the bottom of my heart. Without you, I don?t know how I would keep myself from eating my own penis.

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