You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

The Longest Now

Spitting on the dead : too good for them
Monday September 05th 2005, 7:26 pm
Filed under: null

An increasingly neglected minority in the United States has gotten some
of the worst of the latest storming, flooding, infection and
dehydration deaths, largely overlooked by the press : the newly

An unspecified number of corpses in the Superdome were left there for
days.  Others were seen floating through the water by what seems
to be an entire regiment of amateur and professional reporters and
support staff.  People working with the dead feel the need to
justify their efforts — “Families need to know what happened to the people they lose,says
one Dr. Senn, a forensic dentist from San Antonio, in a Katrina-related
interview.  I hadn’t realized leaving the dead to rot in anonymity
had become a community-lifestyle choice.

thousands of bloated corpses”… “corpses lay abandoned in street medians”… “corpses have been sighted on porches, sidewalks and flooded streets”… “we’re
not even dealing with dead bodies”… “floating in canals, slumped in
wheelchairs, abandoned on highways and medians and hidden in attics”…

Even in a city bereft of order and shepherds, there are always alternatives
Even a gob of tobacco spit on a dead man’s face is a reminder that
someone saw fit to walk right up and leave a remembrance. 
Abandoning bodies to float and decay at will, even those of strangers,
is worse ignominy still.  Have we forgotten what it means to honor the dead?

Reading about the Great Galveston Hurricane reminds me that this has
often been the result of disasters; I wonder how that has played out in
other countries and times.   Certainly the 1900 Galveston
disaster, with 2 corpses per rescue worker, was a very different story
than the latest NO disaster, with a ratio of more like 1:10.

Comments Off on Spitting on the dead : too good for them

Bad Behavior has blocked 147 access attempts in the last 7 days.