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Sept. 11, 2011
 
 I am a medical student and have dissected several cadavers. I am deeply disturbed by Body Worlds and other such exhibits and the general public acceptance of them. When learning from a cadaver in class, all cadavers are covered, with the only part exposed being the part of which we want to learn from. This helps preserve the body and shows respect for it. I have dissected cadavers in three separate schools. Respect for the cadavers is a must or you will be kicked out of the class. We are not to make jokes about the cadavers, disrespectful remarks, put them in positions for amusement/art (I think we would be expelled if we did that), they are to be nameless, all body parts must stay with the specific cadaver, and we are to only uncover parts being studied. When learning, cadavers are always in anatomical position, not "running" or what ever amusing "artistic" position can be thought up. Learning about the body in this way does not take the individuals dignity or make us value life less, because we are taught to respect it. Since class sizes are small in lab, teachers can rep remand students who attempt to devalue the cadaver.
   When I first saw the Body World poster I was horrified. I was certain it would be closed down soon when I heard it was claiming to be "science." As I thought, people in science would never allow this disregard and horrendous display of the human body. Now ever day I drive past the bill boards to school and see it and it really makes me sick. It saddens me very much that so many people cannot see how devaluing this is and how much this will make the next generation devalue human life.
 
Amanda Jones
St Louis, MO

June 12, 2010

Dear Aaron,

 When I die, I am donating my organs and leaving the rest of me for medical schools. But that doesn't mean that I agree with Bodies the Exhibition show, Bodies World, or any other plasticized human show. I Believe those shows are degrading and in no way meant to educate. It is dehumanizing to exploit those poor victims for selfish profit. I was disgusted with this show from the very first time I ever saw the advertisement. And when I asked my boyfriend if he was interested in seeing this show, he was grossed out and said he wanted to do something happier with his time then go see a depressing show of people we suspect were murdered or at least deprived of their human rights. I think it isn't good for children to see actual human remains preserved in this manner, and especially in a setting taken lightly like some shows have them engaging in sports activities. It tends to make kids insensitive. I want children to know that EVERY life is precious on this planet. And seeing humans on display like that, I felt deep down inside from the moment I first saw this advertised, I knew that the humans were murdered. I just got a chill down my back writing this and my arm hairs are standing up.  I think that China treats their prisoners horribly and  in no way the same as we treat ours. Our prisoners live in a paradise here protected by our laws. But in China I feel they can easily say their prisoners died of natural causes, but we know the truth, they were killed without amnesia because it is too costly for them. Who knows if they were skinned alive. I know they take their prisoners organs and sell them. Everyone knows you can call China and ask for a kidney and they'll have one ready or at least within a week. They have a database on their prisoners as which blood type and how healthy they are. They take the organs out while the prisons are gagged and still awake feeling the whole pain and then they are shoved into a cremation over right after to discard of remains and evidence. And if this is how they get their organs then I know this is how they got these poor bodies. In America we see life looking through rose colored glasses, but in other countries, money prevails and people will do horrible things to get it.
Thanks for reading this.
Sincerely,
Jasmin Torres
Astoria, NY
 

October 26, 2009


Dear Aaron,

Thanks for sort of saving my sanity. I thought it would be incumbent on me to figure out where and how express my initial trepidation and ultimate rage.

I had been trying not to notice the large ads on my favorite on-line comics site for the Bodies exhibit in Seattle, then decided to click and see. The nuanced descriptions of fascination and education value, and how children find it fascinating began o activate some very morbid thoughts in my imagination. the photo of a kid staring, i thought, quietly horrified (or worse, dispassionately, hard to tell), at a dissected human propelled me to search more. I guess i became especially disgusted to realize this was a total for profit sideshow, being featured at places like Foxwoods. The disclaimer was the clincher for me, which stated all the bodies were from China, raising many red flags all at once (sorry about the pun).
I posted a message on their website, and have not heard back, but i just sent it yesterday. Here is what i wrote:

As a medical provider (pre hospital) I would find the exhibit interesting, but have issues about displaying the bodies of what were live humans, no evidence of consent from them, for people of all ages to view basically for entertainment. the educational aspect can come through models or computer simulation. China, at this point, has a questionable human rights record, especially where prisoners are concerned. It sounds like, given the lack of guarantees, the origin of the deceased and their cause of death may have been questionable as well. Are the bodies purchased, and if so, who is profiting? I am also concerned of the desensitizing aspect of this exhibit, especially on children, and possibly on unstable individuals. Of course they are fascinated, but there should be a sense of reverence and realization that these displayed bodies were once thinking, breathing entities with love, desire and fear. I eagerly await response from someone willing to engage in dialogue with me about this, or who would please address my concerns. Thank you

Tonight, I have searched the web hoping to find some objection or protest effort or something, and was heartened to find some, but disheartened to learn there has been for some time yet the exhibitor is still reaping in the big bucks and people are bringing their children to  view  what i feel is appropriate viewing only for those who must learn body systems in order to heal and improve them. And then in must be in the context. And frankly, computer simulation models are better, I think than either animal experimentation or stationary plasticized flesh.
It is interesting to note that the you tube clips and websites featuring  the exhibition as guided through by pathologist, and the ones with feedback from visitors who enjoyed the exhibit reap comments by posters who are positive.  The sites which feature the exposés, pointing out these bodies may have been murdered prisoners, the feedback is one of horror. This is why I am relieved to find an organized effort bringing information and perspective about this highly exploitative traveling show. Thanks, maybe I can sleep better tonight, if I ever get to bed. Yours,

Janet Martucci Washington, Maine


 
May 7, 2009
 
Hello,

I'm an American citizen studying abroad in Europe since a few years.  Recently, in Heidelberg, there was a Körperwelt show.  Fellow students, also Americans abroad, told me that they had absolutely no problems with this and have gone to see it multiple times.  I was totally shocked. Now, I've just read that von Hagens opened a new exhibit showing corpses having sexual intercourse.  Are we that depraved?

I'm so glad I found your website, because somehow, level-headed people who have a sense for human dignity are hard to find in my immediate surrounding.  Everyone thinks that it's simply a matter of personal aesthetic preference, and the ethical issue is dismissed with a simple: "it's for education".  If I tell them about the dubious origins, they only react in the extreme cases of executed prisoners, but don't care if the bodies are "not claimed".  The most surprising of all is that the whole concept of human dignity is totally missing from their thinking.  The idea that even with consent, this kind of display of human bodies is a desecration against human dignity is not understood.  I'm afraid of the people around me: what kind of perverted monsters lurk within each of these smiling faces?

In my opinion, no human body should be displayed after death in such a manner, especially not for profit and entertainment, even with consent. If we lose our respect for dead bodies, we will soon lose respect for the living bodies.  Second, I don't think corpses are neccessary for general public education.  There are plenty of alternatives.  And third, knowing full well about the dubious origins of many of these corpses, plus the expanding trade in human body parts, every one of these shows, even those whith 100% consenting doners will spawn immitation shows with executed prisoners, murdered mentally-ill, abandoned children, etc.  And lastly, I find it troublesome that these shows have caused so much de-sensitization to death and the manipulation of human remains.  There is implicit in all these shows a disrespect for human life.

I'm very concerned about the success of these shows, and I hope there might be something I could do.  I've tried to talk to people, but the seduction of these macabre exhibitions is too great and I end up speaking to deaf ears.  My friends even consider me hysterical and a kill-joy. The strangest thing is, most of them are relgious (catholic, protestant, muslim, orthodox, etc.) and I am the only atheist.  It's quite a paradox that I'm the only one defending the sacredness of human life, human dignity, and the human body and that I should raise the ethics issue for them.  I thought that their religions whould take care of that, especially concerning desecration after death.  I just don't understand it.  It's equally paradoxal that they go there in the name of "science", although they were the first to challenge the validity of science when we discuss other topics. 

The only comfort I found was when searching the internet.  On April 22, 2009, the French court shut down such a exhibit using a new law passed in their legislature about respecting dead bodies.  It is also important to note that they did not ban these exhibitions on the grounds of dubious papers, but on the grounds of human dignity.  I'm so glad that France set an example.

Thank you for being there and thank you for giving a place for individual voices.  Otherwise I would have felt so alone here.

Best wishes,

Marianne Fleurimont
Heidelberg, Germany  

Marianne followed up on June 9, 2009:

Dear Aaron, 

... I've been talking to people who actually went to those shows.  A fellow student who happened to be Catholic told me that she attended one of these shows where fetuses were on display.  She said that it educated her on the issue of abortion.  After the show, she viewed early term abortion as "not bad at all" because the embryos "didn't look human at all".  Although I'm reluctantly pro-choice for many other reasons, the fact that embryos don't look human was never one of them.  You can imagine how shocked I was.

On the other hand, talking did make a difference.  In addition to informing people who went there about the consequences of such shows (for some, these ideas were totally new), I was also able to meet some other people who shared my opinions-- both among religious and secular peers. 

These talks also enlightened me about something: that the sensitivity for the value of human dignity is something people acquire early in their lives.  It is almost impossible to explain to someone who does not value human dignity what the entire concept means.  To those, I could only use pragmatic arguments... but they never "saw the light", but simply agreed to arguments of higher social utility.  That saddens me very much. 


Best wishes,

Marianne

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October 29, 2008
 
I recently found out about the Bodyworld that opened up in Salt Lake City. I did not know much about such museums before. But I also will not let my senses become deadened to the acute and obvious wrong that is taking place now across the US and even abroad. The main point I'd like to share is that we have all the materials to make look-a-likes for bodies, animals, or anything- thanks to hollywood. The sad fact is, if these body's on display were not real these museums would not be popular and not be making money. They were created to make money disguised in the name of science and art. It is not necessary to display real human bodies that lived on this earth. They are creations of God. And some people have chosen to make money off of death. They are too cheap to go make plastic human imitations of the body. Instead, they save money and use real bodies instead. To have these museums accepted in this nation will be a huge contribution towards our immoral and desensitized nation. Murder and grotesque horrors will continue to rise as we continue to lose respect for the Human Life. These museums are a travesty and mocks our claim that we are civilized. Rather, by accepting these body museums by calling it art or science, we are no better than perverted distinguished animals.

Alicen
Utah Valley, Uta
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August 13, 2008

A friend innocently mentioned they were going for a brief getaway and that they might stop at the Art Deco Natural Historic Museum in Cincinnati. They have a young son. When I sent an impassioned plea to not go there, and why I came upon your site. I noticed no recent comments were made and want to add mine.

 I am appalled that a city like Cincinnati and the Museum has allowed this exhibit to go on for so long, apparently continuing to make a profit. It is a sad commentary on our society that people attend every day viewing, basically, murdered victims from a repressive government.

 Please write your Congressman in support of house bill, HR 5677. Although Congress is in summer recess, perhaps it can be taken up again. Because of the many people who somehow believe that “freedom of expression” actually gives dispensation for viewing bodies of murdered Chinese, and protesters have been threatened and taken from premises of these exhibits, the only way to stop the continued victimization and keep demand for more prisoners bodies high, is to stop the importation of these bodies.

 

If they were NOT real bodies, learning about the body is fine. But some Americans are a lazy lot, and want to become experts in an hour on any given subject. If you want to learn about the body, attend a college class or the free health classes offered by hospitals. Devote your life to saving real people in any of the excellent health or rescue fields available.

This is a portion of the e-mail I sent-

In addition to believing that it is denigrating to the body God gave us to plasticize it in the way that they do, having the bodies “perform” odd motions, etc., I am very convinced the bodies are of young, undoubtedly Chinese, dissidents who were executed and the bodies sold on the black market.  The whole thing is revolting, because of this. They were smuggled in as “medical models, plastic” and they are actually plasticized bodies. The 20/20 story and others do have compelling evidence that the living people did NOT give permission (as with another group in Europe-grotesque but the people knew what was happening to them.) These people were not only imprisoned and executed in life but then are forever imprisoned after death, in plastic, for hordes of Americans and others to stare at.

Pam Miller Howard, Dayton, Ohio

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March 31, 2008

I went to the Our Body exhibit in Mobile, AL while I was visiting the area.  Just a couple of things.

1) I have been seeing these types of tours where I live and throughout the US, but I didn't hear about all the controversy until after I went and wondered, "I am I the only person who doesn't think this is legit?" So I looked it up and found your site.  I hate to pull the race card but I really wonder, if these were all white cadavers would these exhibits even be allowed?  If they were all Black, you can be sure the Black community would have something to say about it.  But since they are all Chinese, we tend to turn a blind eye??  The further I got into the exhibit the more I became angry and disgusted.  Someone behind me actually said, "Well you know it's China, so they just scoop them [the dead bodies] right out of the river...they got enough people anyway."  Unbelievable.

2)  In today's world we have computers that can scan our bodies and create 3D images of all our organs, blood vessels, and nerves.  Why do we need to dissect actual bodies to see inside of ourselves? I thought we invented these technologies so we would no longer have to do that. I can honestly say that the body systems I saw were no more educational than the ones I saw in my health and science classes.

Jackie
Colorado Springs, CO 
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March 12, 2008

I am a medical student in Oklahoma City, OK. I went yesterday with our professor to view the Our Body: The Universe Within exhibit. I can’t sleep… I can’t seem to get their faces out of my mind. The guilt and pain I feel over viewing this exhibit is outrageous. They dehumanize these people. It couldn’t be for science… Its just not possible. It is morbid and sick. I cannot even describe what type of person would create something such as this. My friend and I were searching for a petition in Oklahoma that is working towards outlawing these viewings. We could not find one so we were creating one. One of the people that left a comment on your site wrote it beautifully. I want to ask her permission to use her statement in our petition. I do not know how to contact her. If you could contact her for us… I would greatly appreciate it. Please give her my email too. Thank you for this site. I hope it changes things.

 
 Gena Mendenhall
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March 5, 2008 

This was written for our community college newspaper. You may use it with my blessing.
QV Commons Late Edition

A New Day Has Dawned in Connecticut
by Edward R. Mortimer

    The 1st Annual Quinebaug Valley Community College Arts & Science Entertainment Expedition to see the flayed, sliced and diced human beings on display will soon set off for fun and games! Tittering students will drive off to Hartford to stare, ogle and gawk to the full extent of their school-funded discount price. What a bargain! Where else, for only ten U.S. Dollars, can you see humans scientifically, but artfully, ripped open, cut into pieces and posed in oh so delicate ways without all that bloody mess that usually accompanies such activities? Why, it's almost religious in the experience!

    Somebody ought to market this, they could make a mint. Besides being fun it could perform a valuable public service. Just imagine Plastinating Body Shop franchises popping up next to McDonalds everywhere. Bring in your dead, and for less than the cost of a funeral, plastinate that loved one for permanent display as a lawn ornament. Wonderful! Put wheels on them so they can be easily taken in and out of storage. Pose them in their favourite team's uniform, and trot them out for every home game! Take them to tailgating parties! Use them to scare off burglars, or crows. Or, for sweet revenge, pose and dress them in embarrassing positions! Oh, wouldn't that be a riot at the next tea and tart social?

    Why, that gives me another great idea! Excess humans can be plastinated and set up as chess pieces for life-size games in every public park. In fact, all those tenement eyesores can be bulldozed for new flower filled plazas. No more noisy neighbours! What's not to love?

    There is no shortage of superfluous people to use as raw material. Look at all the degenerates that clog up our communities, lowering property values and endangering our children. They could finally be doing something worthwhile, and it would make every neighborhood a pleasant place to live. And, oh my, wouldn't it be lovely to not have to listen to them rant anymore? There is just so much noise and argument in this world that we can never get any thing done, or have any proper peace and quiet. If we could have all the rabble rousers, misfits and freaks cleaned up, dressed properly and hair done stylishly, but conventionally – and oh yes, all those nasty tattoos and piercings covered over and filled in with some new People-Plaster product (which, by the way, opens the door to more new financial opportunities) – we can finally enjoy life without all that squalour and clamour.  In fact, it would be restfully quiet now that only the soft strands of intellectual music would fill the air; no more screeching or awful explosions of bass guitars and raucous drumming blasting from boom-boxes and car stereos.

    Instead of always releasing those dirty, uncouth criminals back into the public when their sentences are finished, we could finally be rid of their hurtful insanities while still preserving their beauty. You have to admit, some of those bad boys & girls would be just so deliciously sexy if they were cleaned up, and shut up. Why, I imagine a special adults-only playset would be a hot seller. Of course, those bodies would have to easily store in the bedroom closet, but I'm sure that won't be a problem for our good old American ingenuity. The possibilities are endless! Imagine: automated plastinated bodies for fortune telling booths, carnival scare houses and school biology classes. Stick a computer brain in their heads and we can have plastinated bodies as casino card dealers, toll booth attendants, theater ticket takers and factory assembly line workers. There is also the fantastic opportunity for numerous spin-off products to keep the bodies new and shiny, and to fix the inevitable wear and tear marks!

     Don't forget, they could also be performing a great human service: before we plastinate them we can use their healthy organs for medical transplant in order to save the lives of the more respectable folk, like us.

    Yes, let's finally do something about all the crazy protesters, smelly riff-raff and illegal immigrants clogging up our communities with all their poverty, addictions and bad manners.  I think Plastinating Body Shops is the wave of the future. Not only will it be educational and artistic, it will be fun too!

    But we better get crackin' 'cause China has a head start on us, and just look at the horde of people they can turn into plastic. Why, they could flood the market before we even get started!

--


Best Regards,

Ed Mortimer

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February 28, 2008 

I recently saw the the Bodies Exhibition, I had heard rave reviews from people I spoke to, -I was in two minds about going,  but I went,
I did a little bit of research (not enough) before going.
Now I feel sadly haunted by the Bodies Exhibit, in one way it was fascinating to see the inside of your body in great detail and gain a greater respect for your own,
but how many of these bodies are there? 1 or 2 cadavers would of been sufficient, for only one free "educational" travelling exhibition. There must of been over
16 full bodies in the exhibition I saw, does anybody know how many of these exhibitions exist though out the world? How many human bodies are preserved like this,
It's crazy! I have only been made aware of these exhibits in the last 2 weeks. I wouldn't doubt for a second that the bodies were illegally supplied somewhere
along the line.I believe that, maybe a handful of people in the world would like to be presented like this in death, (with their next of kin agreeing to it).
Isn't it sad enough that the bodies were "unclaimed", sadder still that they are transported across the world away from there origins and presented
in a bizarre fashion to be oggled at skinned and naked!! How hard do the officials try to contact the next of kin before they are labeled as "unclaimed bodies"?

It truly is a seedy awful business, I shamefully ignorantly payed my $23 perpetrating the whole nasty million dollar exploitation.
Any thoughts on donating my organs have subsequently been squelched, unless my next of kin get the big bucks!!!

I hang my head in silence in respect for the dead that I viewed and their families.
 
Anna
Lexington KY
 
Febrary 17, 2008 
 
It's hard for me to believe that this situation exists.  I have 3
primary objections to putting plasticized bodies on display:  (1) any
time that there is an economic market for dead bodies (as apparently
there is for these "specimens"), nothing good can come from it.  There
will inevitably be immoral, money-hungry people who will decide to
harvest individuals so that their dead bodies can be sold to become
plasticized.  (2) even if there were no money involved at all
(preparation, exhibits, etc.), the very idea of putting these
plasticized bodies on display is immoral, unethical, and repulsive in
every way.  Is there no respect for human life and dignity for the
deceased?  (3) the claims are that the bodies all come from China and
all are either willing donors or unclaimed bodies.  Given China's
track record, I don't think that China could be trusted on this.
Isn't it odd how many of the plasticized bodies appear to be young and
in very good health?  Isn't it also odd that they all would have died
of natural causes?  For any of them that did give consent -- I wonder
how many of them might have been coerced or extorted.

The exhibit is starting in my metro area (Kansas City) within the next
couple of weeks.  I would like to protest/picket the opening of the
exhibit and attempt to persuade as many as possible to not attend the
exhibit.

thank you.
Paul Dardeau

Lenexa, KS 
 
February 16, 2008
When I recently saw my first ad on t.v. touting this exhibit, I thought it was an extremely talented and skilled artisan that had crafted these images from man-made materials. After a few times seeing the same ad, I realized how very wrong I was. The sheer fact that human bodies are desecrated in the name of art, displayed to the public for a hefty viewing fee, and provided by corporations that are publicly traded sickens me to my very core. The horrors that mankind has inflicted on itself over centuries still has taught us no lesson whatsoever. Although we presume we are far more enlightened than the prior generation, we seem to slip deeper into an incredible sense of desensitization. Had some of our most vicious and genocidal killers such as Pol Pot, Adolph Hitler, Idi Amin or Joesph Stalin come up with such a venture, the international community would cry out and demand an immediate inquiry. If it is so easy for us now to accept that scores of these bodies are on display, with little verification of their origins or proper certification, what makes us think we will even flinch 15 years down the road when the next twisted and insidious crime against human dignity rears its ugly head? Lest we forget, history repeats itself.

Andrea Lea Parrish

Necedah WI
February 16, 2008

I won't go into details, but THIS IS JUST WRONG. This "exhibit" is currently in my city, but I WILL NOT go view it. It's not like going to the park or the zoo. These are human bodies. REAL humans. Just the thought of it gives me nightmares, and why are all those bodies young, healthy "specimens"? Who are they? Why did they die? Political prisoners? They can't be just "throw away street people" (as if anyone could be thrown away) Could that happen to me or one of my loved ones? That gives my the shudders. This should be outlawed.


Rita

November 16, 2008
The 20-20 show last night exposed the tissue of lies that I expected. The bodies are being called Plastic models- a lie, and sent in without restrictions. Lies has been used to cover up human rights abuses..I would expect that even Von Hagen, for all his tears, is guilty of false verification, and permission. This "industry" is an abomination, morally, ethically, spiritually and every other which way. After the 20-20 piece, how can Premier buy bodies from china? He said if it was established that they were executed prisioners he would stop doing business with them
Frank Shifreen

February 16, 2008

Dear Aaron,

Thank you for bringing this to my attention! As you know, I have always
been suspicious of dead bodies from China, especially when there's money
involved, and again and again our suspicions turn out to be justified. I
will make sure people in the Netherlands will hear about this. Keep up
the good work.

Greetings,
Sander Pasterkamp

February 16, 2008
Friend,

Unfortunately I did not see the story on 20/20 but after reading some excerpts I have one brief note (and if I can spy the actual full story I'm sure I'll have more thoughts).

Von Hagens feigns distress over the seemingly bullet riddled "specimens" he received from China and claims that he no longer deals in Chinese supplied (read: tortured prisoner) bodies. But if we are to believe Von Hagens when he says that Chinese supplied bodies are no longer supplied for that reason the question arises, why was it not the 2006 Chinese Law prohibiting the sale of Chinese bodies that stopped Von Hagens? Why was he seemingly comfortable dealing in the black market chinese body trade prior to when the quality of his "product" diminished? Good questions for Mr. Von Hagens, perhaps he can take a moment away from his disingenuous campaign of science and exploration, his calls for human rights and greater disclosure on just who it is encased in plastic mounted like some soulless kill (yes Mr. Von Hagens, they were a who, a they, a him and a her, mother, father, daughter, son, lover, friend, an actual person.) and answer those questions.

Thank you as always for keeping us all informed, keep up the good work Aaron.

Sincerely,

Jason Tabrys
Montville, NJ

ps. nice of the mainstream media to shed some light on an issue you have championed for nearly 2 years. The bravest protest is the protest of one my friend, but it sure must feel nice to have company.


-----Original Message-----
November 17, 2007

I know I have added

but I still find it unbelievable that in the year 2007 we still cannot harvest human organs from death row convicts who even wish to donate their organs but can harvest human corpses for our entertainment. Very, very sad.

Renee Abramson
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Oct 23, 2007

I find it ironic that in a country that still is

not promoting stem cell research that we find it "educational" to see this exhibit. Have we not learned from the recent disregard for the safety in China concerning lead paint that imports from China are not what they say that they are? When the organizers of this event sign their name on the dotted line to donate their bodies so that they can be posed and displayed then maybe I will see it. Until that happens there is nothing educational to be seen, No difference between this exhibit and seeing a hit and run. Human morbid curiousity. Nothing less.

Renee Abramson
Framingham
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August 6, 2007

The body is not an alienable property

My greatest concern is that our body is not our property, in the sens of alienable, and at our disposal. ... You can paint your car in another colour or sell it to someone, within the appropriate legal conditions: signing a contract, transferring the title, etcetera. Such conditions do not apply to your own body. Your own body, even your own body we could say, is not tradeable, not even after it has died.

Rob van Gerwen

Rob van Gerwen is a philosopher who lives and teaches in The Netherlands. Read his complete remarks.

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July 6, 2007
There are enough concerns, however, that Catholics and Catholic organizations should seriously consider not attending the Bodies exhibit until and unless adequate explanations are provided by both Premier Exhibitions and the science center.

Exerpt from article in the Pittsburgh Catholic . Complete Article

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July 2, 2007

A Prayer for the Dead.

Prisoners in life, prisoners in death, we remember the dead, pray for their forgiveness, and hope for dignity and peace to come to them once and for all.

Jason Tabrys, Montville, NJ

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June 24, 2007

Every death, whatever the cause, is that of a human being who wished, in life, to be treated with respect. If we wish others to respect us, we must demonstrate respect for the humanity of all people, and of their memories and bodies after death.

The bodies are coming to Pittsburgh. What message is Pittsburgh sending the world if we welcome them in?

from Elaine Catz's article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Here is the complete text.

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June 29, 2007
Did you ever see the classic horror picture starring Vincent Price - The House of Wax. It's about an artist who lost his magnificent lifelike wax models in a fire in which the artist himself is severely burned. The artist gets a whole new display of wax figures by robbing bodies from the morgue and covering them with wax. Of course he doesn't tell the secret of his new exhibit of life like wax models. In the end he is about to kill a woman to keep his secret by preparing to cover her with wax and make her one of his exhibit. The woman is saved just in time by the police and Vincent Price as the mad artist falls into his own vat of hot wax as he is being chased by police.
Today's morality would not be shocked by using actual bodies for visual exhibit. And the mad artist of the House of Wax would not have to be secretive to the point of murder to hide the fact that he was using actual bodies for his art exhibit. He would be considered a genius and an educator in science and art. Yesterday's spooky and horrific madmen would be in some sectors of today's society publicly admired respected and supported heroes.
Good Shabbes.

Hersn Goldman, Swampscott, MA

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June, 28, 2006

Bodies: The Exhibition is currently at our local mall, The Streets at Southpoint in Durham. BodyWorlds is in Charlotte. When I originally saw the article in the Raleigh paper, I responded with this letter to
the editor. The research I have done since has confirmed that my original instincts that this was foul, were correct. My father was a doctor so I was raised in a very scientifically oriented family. My reaction is not about squeamishness for the human body, it was horror at the dehumanization. Of course the human body is beautiful and eople will be inspired. But does that mean we should be harvesting bodies for that entertainment?

Are you aware that on the Disney KidzWorld.com webpage promoting Gunther von Hagens there is a link in the sidebar asking kids to
consider donating their bodies?
(http://www.kidzworld.com/article/4690-gunther-von-hagens-where-science-and-art-meet)
What's next, a playground full of mini cadavers?

My letter to the editor:

I looked into the face of that man, stripped of his skin, and my blood pressure dropped. The visceral horror was only duplicated by seeing photos of systematically dehumanized Nazi Holocaust victims. This is what we have become. This is acceptable. Why cry out about soldiers photographed with skulls of Afghan citizens when this abomination is education', 'art', 'normal'? Hanging hijacked bodies beautifully on
wires at the mall is a tiny step from lynchings or any other dehumanizing crime.

Medical education pursues understanding of the human body with respect. Here, the deceit is the happy shopping context with simply more mannequins. This is not education. This is raw greed using cadavers as pawn. The exhibited people likely didn't give their permission to be grotesquely violated for $24 tickets in a circus sideshow. Their government sold them and Southpoint is profiting. What's next in vogue, Southpoint, furniture from human bones?

The apathy from our 'decent' community is terrifying. Don't be surprised by the Durham Lacrosse case, or the shooting at Virginia Tech. We have become and are creating a generation so blunted that human connection, dignity and suffering no longer register.

Southpoint, goodbye and good riddance.

SarahRedpath Cary, NC

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June 21, 2007

I personally do not want to see this display of human bodies at the Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center. I feel that it is disrespectful to the humans that are being used for this money making effort. If my school district even thinks of sending children on a field trip there, my child will not be included.

Jean Stevans McMurray, PA

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June 13, 2007
Despite anything I may have said in the Jewish Journal, I applaud your effort! If memory serves me correctly, I mentioned arguments in both directions when I was interviewed, and likely spoke about a different standard and expectation under Jewish law than under secular law and mores. From a strictly legal standpoint, I did not see any argument to forbid a Jew from attending the exhibit; I did say that I believed it would greatly cheapen the regard we should have for the specialness of human beings, which is something we as Jews should be sensitive to in particular.

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein Sydney M Irmas Adjunct Chair, Jewish Law and Ethics, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles

This comment refers to an article in the Jewish Journal.
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May 8=9, 2007
The only thing children or adults will really learn
is that we are very short on respect for human life be it in this life or in the here after.

Mary Nelson Madison, Wisconson

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May 8, 2007

This exhibit may be coming to the Milwaukee public Museum, Wisconsin. I pray that it does not! My tears are for all those who can no longer speak for themselves or their loved ones. This is a crime against world humanity and life giving creation. There is no honor to viewing this exhibit.

Jan Lillie, Brookfield, Wisconsin

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May 4, 2007
In 1933 Warner Bros. produced a film entitled "The Mystery Of The Wax Museum". The plot involved a deranged artist who stole the bodies of John and Jane Doe's , encased them in wax, and then exhibited them in various poses in a museum. In spite of its medical pretensions, the idea of this exhibit is just as horrifying. It is nothing more than man's inhumanity to man for profit. I have not seen the exhibit nor do I care to.

Mark Vaughn, Bronx, NY

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April 9,2007
Our family was shocked by the exhibit of these people at the local MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry). We had been members of that museum for much of the past 15 years. As we considered rejoining during the recent spring break, one of our adult children sighed in disagreement, "We may as well join the mortuary." Another teen clearly indicated that to rejoin would violate his conscience.
So we did not rejoin. The MOSI Board decided last year to ignore the medical board which by state statute had the authority to stop the showing. Neither our governor, our state reps, state senators chose to stop it. Even more shocking, Christians we know were eager to take their children to this "educational" exhibit, failing to comprehend. Whenever a human rights issue would arise in the news, we would say to each other, "Well, at least if a person disagrees with their government in America, he doesn't have to worry (yet) about becoming an exhibit at MOSI."
We strongly support and appreciate your struggle to stop this latest "entertainment" undermining not only human dignity but respect for life.

Ellen Stevenson, Dunedin, FL

February 12, 2007

Yesterday, I attended the exhibit of Our Body: the Universe Within in Orlando, Florida. I have not slept since. As a teacher, I am truly interested in the workings of the body but as a human… I am disgusted by this “exhibit”.

Who were these people? Different sources give me different answers. Some say, “Volunteers for medical research and education”. Others say, “Chinese prisoners.” I beg to differ. This was a freak show. A combination of a carnival sideshow, Nazi atrocities, and Hannibal Lector. Yes, the human body is beautiful and incredibly created. (Yes, I said, “CREATED!”) but these were human beings. They were someone’s child, someone’s brother or sister, someone’s parent. Displaying them for monetary gain is unethical. Just because something can be done, doesn’t mean that it should be. During WWII, the Nazis ran “experiments” on Jews that they were planning to execute any way. They wanted to research how the body worked. They poured chemicals into victims’ eyes to see the body’s response. They amputated hands and reattached them onto the opposite arms to see if or how they would function. These experiments were recorded and well documented. These were considered war atrocities. Tell me how skinning a person and then displaying them holding a clothes hanger with their skin draped over it is anything less. If these were willing volunteers, why is this exhibit not in a medical school instead of lining the pockets of large museums? Did these people agree to having their bodies displayed in disrespectful ways? Did these fetuses grant permission for their bodies to be posed and stared at? Did their parents? What about the woman with her unborn child? Tell me that her partner and the baby’s father would want them to be on display in this way. If these were Chinese prisoners, what were their crimes? Chinese people often are arrested and disappear for the “crime” of speaking out for human rights. The Chinese government has a history of disrespecting the rights of their own citizens. (I remember the live broadcasts from Tiananmen Square in 1989.)

The bottom line is… this is wrong. It goes against everything I am as a mother, a teacher, a Christian, a scientist, an American and a HUMAN BEING !

How can I help to make these crimes against humanity stop?

Pam Nichols New Smyrna Beach, Florida

January 24, 2007

A group I educate for made the decision to go and I was researching it (you show up on google)…I already thought it seemed like a sketchy idea, but after reading the criticism and realizing it was basically an involuntary burlesque I was outraged at the cultural inappropriateness and lack of respect for human life. Thanks for the add

Leah Coakley Tacoma, WA

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January 5, 2007
As a physician, I oppose this exhibit (I have not been to it, but have seen plenty of photos of it in the press). While there is undoubtedly some educational value to the audience to see the wonders of the human body, the bizarre nature of the cadavers' poses transforms the viewer into a voyeur. What could possibly be the scientific or eductional purpose of displaying the corpse of a small child riding on the shoulders of the corpse of an adult, as if having an outing at the park?
In my opinion, the display crosses the line from informative exhibit to pornography or freak show. I would feel this way even if all the bodies were freely donated with informed consent. (But I doubt any of us would consent to having our own body displayed post-mortem in this perverse manner.)

In medicine, both when dissecting cadavers in medical school and when performing procedures or surgery on live patients, care is taken to drape the body so only the parts of interest are exposed. This is done to objectify the body, thus minimizing the natural strong human emotional response to it which would interfere with a rational, disinterested and scientific approach to anatomy.

Just because a thing can be done, doesn't mean it should be done. Accurate scientific data about hypothermia can be obtained by throwing living human subjects into pools of cold water of varying temperatures, and monitoring their EKGs until their hearts fibrillate and they die. This was in fact done in Europe 65 years ago by the third reich. In my opinion these circus-like displays of the bodies of once-living human individuals is worthy of a Dr. Mengele.

Steven Adler, MD Seattle, WA

note: Although Dr. Adler was writing about the Seattle exhibit, he has confirmed what may be obvious: his remarks apply to all such exhibits.

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Op-Ed - 'Bodies' exhibit is unethical

By Dianne Rider

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

When I drove into West Seattle, one of the billboards made me throw up a little, in the back of my throat. Maybe you've seen it? It's the one for Bodies, the Exhibition and it flaunts having "real human bodies."

Now, I didn't almost throw up for the typical reasons because I have been working with cadavers in my anatomy lab for an entire semester. They don't bother me one bit. Our cadavers are treated with respect and dignity and they consented to be there. All of which are concepts that are very foreign to the cadavers in Bodies. continued...

This article originally appeared in the West Seattle Herald Ballard News-Tribune and is posted with permission of the Herald-News and of the author.

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January, 2007 (Strictly speaking the article from Comentary is not a submitted comment, but I thought it would be of interest. For submitted comments, please scroll down.)

In the January, 2007 issue of Commentary magazine, Michael Lewis wrote a critique that starts:

"From earliest infancy, our own bodies, those places of sustenance and desire, concern us intimately; nor can we look upon the body of any other person with neutral eyes. For every human body is a variant of our own, a commentary upon it, even—in the case of a corpse—a
foretelling of its destiny.

Under the circumstances, it is hardly surprising that Body Worlds, a trio of anatomical exhibitions that have been touring North America for nearly two years, has aroused so much fascination."

The complete article including a devastating conclusion continues...

This article originally appeared in the West Seattle Herald Ballard News-Tribune and is posted with permission of the Herald-News and of the author.

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December 19, 2006

I am the author of the book "Genocide and Medical Experiments of the Nazi Holocaust". I also teach medical ethics classes. I have several problems with the Bodies exhibit. First of all I have been an investigator for more than 20 years working on thousands of death and injury cases. I have also investigated genocide and torture. I was told when visiting the exhibit all the specimens died of natural causes. In my experience "people" who die of "natural causes" are more often than not withered, with large loss of tissue, bone and soft tissue degeneration, etc. The bodies of the people I seen were lacking many of the signs of degeneration and disease. Also most all were fairly young judging by the ware and tear to there exposed joints, teeth and tissue. If they told me these were accident or traumatic deaths, it would be easer to believe. I am very specious as the causes of death.

Second, bodies decompose fast, nerves, brain, visceral tissue become dehydrated in just a few hours. Once again signs of decomposition are absent.

Third, proof such as death certificates and consent by the donors should be available for inspection. The validity of such should be verified by the international human rights community.

It would be ok with me if the donor understood and consented to display and research of their bodies. I do think the dissection work is the best I have ever seen. It rivals the descriptions and photos I have of Joseph Mangle's work in Nazi Germany. He was able to select his specimens (victims) and plan the death to make best use of the fresh tissue.

Dr. Ian Shepherd MSD

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December 17,2006

Mr. Ginsburg,

I am a freshman in high school studying biology at ... School in [South Florida]. For a feild trip, my biology professor is planning to take us to the BODIES exhibit at Sunset place. When I heard this I was appalled! I had read in the newspaper about the controversial exhibit, and the thought of paying to see someone's remains taken illegally and preserved for eternity was not a thought i enjoyed. When I told my professor and classmates about my concerns, all I got was "shut up" and "If you think it's unethical, don't go." To say the least, I won't be going, but I would like to make my voice heard and get the point across that the preservation of these bodies, and selling tickets for profits, is unethical, inhuman, and a disgrace to the deceased. Do you know where I can find a protest group in my area?

Thank you for your help

name withheld

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Thomas Hibbs: Shocking display relies on society's morbid voyeurism

10:50 AM CST on Sunday, December 17, 2006

The medieval Italian poet Dante creates a macabre vision of twisted bodies, divided and rent asunder, as a manifestation in the flesh of the deforming consequences of sin. In Body Worlds, a new exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Natural Science, the German scientist Gunther von Hagens has discovered a new means of providing anatomy lessons to the multitudes – cuts, slices and dissections of "real" human bodies, preserved through a process called plastination.

The impression left on viewers will likely be as memorable as Dante's imaginative journey among the dead. The question is whether it has substantive educational value – or is merely feeding our inordinate taste for the macabre while masquerading as science education...

The problem with death in our culture is not that we have taboos about it, but that we lack a rich language for articulating the experience and its meaning. It's hard to see how Body Worlds will help solve that problem. Indeed, what is on display is not the mystery of death, but the reduction of bodies to inert plasticized parts displayed for viewers – a pornography of the dead human body.

Here is the complete article.

Thomas Hibbs, Ph.D., is a philosopher and Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Culture at Baylor University. Copyright 2006, by Thomas Hibbs. This originally appeared in the Dallas Morning News.

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November 21, 2006

Mr. Ginsberg,

To say I'm appalled and sickened by this sad excuse for "scientific education" is an understatement. I would like to see this show (scheduled to begin in January at the Arizona Science Center) canceled.

What I want to know is: Whom, or what groups, should I contact in the Phoenix, AZ area that has clout? How is the best way to go about it? Do you, or any of the other people who have tried to fight this exhibit have other ideas or suggestions I might try?

This is what got me started on my mission --

I opened yesterday's East Valley Tribune newspaper (serving Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Tempe, Arizona, mainly) around noon before preparing lunch. The graphic image, large, and centered on the front page killed my appetite and changed my plans for the next 3 - 4 hours.

Pictured was a skinned male figure (one could tell it was a male because of the two gonads still attached to his fleshless anatomy & displayed at the top of the grisly form) doing a "skateboard handstand." Nothing but muscles, some torn, and sinews were shown...except for the face, which I'm hoping was plastic...and not the plastinated face of the deceased person.

I'm not an ultraconservative person. I'm 66, widowed, have raised 4 children and have 9 grandchildren, and work part-time as a private duty nurse for a man with quadriplegia, so I see male genitalia every single working day. I'm no prude. But I'm also the daughter of a mortician...and learned about the dignity of the human body early in life. I also learned "The end doesn't justify the means."

The lack of respect and dignity given these dead pawns in this exhibit saddens, sickens, and revolts me. If the public can get OJ's new "book" and "FOX" program canceled, perhaps there's still hope the same thing can happen to this macabre side show.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

K. M. de Vos Mesa, AZ

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December 6, 2006

I disagree with the comments made by some members . I myself have seen the exhibit 3 times in the last 3 weeks. Once with my 15 yr old daughter and 2 times with nursing students. I don't feel it is offensive. I feel that this information is a wonderful learning experience about the human body. I don't think that it was done disgraceful or untasteful at all. I do though agree on a few things. The cost was outrageous and my understanding by talking to the Bostom Museum was that the Hagen's group set the prices. This bothers me because indeed this was a money maker to pay off the year long process it takes for each plastination. I would agree about the person who stated seeing full scenes on buses on the way to work my be very disturbing to some. The healthcare profession works all the time with people and this was awesome to see what actually is under all those feet of skin. I also agree that is a persons decision to go or not to go to the exhibit. Would you read a book that is disturbing if you new that ahead of time? Would you intentionally hang out in a place that gives you the heebie geebies before you got there? It is really all a mind game. Death is nothing to be grossed out about - it happens for a reason. All persons names were protected in this exhibit.

Susan Lewis, Manchester,NH

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October 16, 2006

In response to the PhD student in Neuroscience who asked that others stop "imposing their personal moralities on others, I would ask "what about the moralities of the people who are now on display for money?" Haven't the Bodies Exhibit organizers imposed THEIR own moralities on these un-consenting individuals - and done it for profit? Even if the all the bodies - which are from a country known for relieving itself of human rights laws and murdering its own citizens for simply voicing differing opinions - are of the unclaimed dead, they are still NOT being used for the advancement of science as laws allowing their use intend. They are being used for considerable profit. Those who are attending medical school have access to cadavers as part of their curriculum; they do not need, as a means to learn, to contribute to profit through disrespect for the lives of others. I would hope a PhD student would have a m ore systemic world understanding than the one who has claimed this exhibit is a simple "go or don't go" situation. The human rights issues run much deeper than that.

LeAnne Nelson, Seattle

October 17, 2006

Aaron, I should have read the student's letter more thoroughly I suppose, to discern more details, but I was so taken aback by the stance in the intro. I find I am also repulsed as I walk to work in Downtown Seattle and am passed by metro buses with full size ads on their sides showing skinned bodies in various real-life-action poses. The level of disrespect makes me think of the atrocities with human flesh committed in Nazi concentration camps. I always look away from those huge color ads as they "drive" by.

LeAnne Nelson, Seattle, WA

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ROSENBERG: Dissecting the Body Worlds 2 exhibit one cadaver at a time


Posted: 10/6/06

My sister was disgusted, my father appalled, my brother horrified, my mother numbed. I suppose you could say I was unsettled. But the whole thing just seemed sort of wrong.

A hundred dead bodies on display. I guess it's nothing we haven't seen before on TV war coverage or in action movies, but this was different. This was somehow less respectful to human life.

Now, I won't tell you whether or not you should go see Body Worlds 2 at the Boston Museum of Science, but I'll strongly urge you against it.

An excerpt from a column by Ethan Rosenberg, a student at Boston University in the Daily Free Press, an indepedent student newspaper. Here is the complete column.

October 23,2006

Dear_____,

Thank you for your feedback and for sharing in this concern. I find the success of cadaver shows a troubling sign of the times in which we live.
Perhaps you know that in Europe von Hagens promoted Body Worlds as "art". Colleges of Surgeons and Physicians, the German Pathological Society (as well as most reputable media outlets and the churches) distanced themselves from Body Worlds because of its violation of their professional ethics. The University of Heidelberg (von Hagens former employer) initiated legal action against von Hagens, in part to disassociate itself from von Hagens and from Body Worlds. In North America von Hagens chose a different marketing strategy, apparently it is all about science and health education. And since we North Americans are health nuts and have elavated science to a position beyond questioning we flock in droves and there is little opposition. But there is only a very thin veneer of science, and there is nothing that cannot be learned from textbooks or computer models. As one commentator noted, medical students don't pose their dead like Barbies. They don't sign them either.
It is big money, museums pursue box office success and grant us absolution for breaking the last taboo of our society when we use the dead to be awed, educated, or amused.

Pastor Christoph Reiners Abbotsfords, BC

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October 23, 2006

I just found out about this exhibit at the Tropicana casino in Las Vegas. I think this is absolute evidence of this exhibits exploitation of the human body for money, and Las Vegas freak show entertainment purposes only.

Thank You,

Diana Turner Las Vegas, Nevada

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October 23, 2006

I believe this to be a true barbaric act of which I am ashamed the U.S. has any part.

I believe this exhibit is a testimony that mankind is still very unaware of what art is. In little stores all over the southwest there are plastic incased tarantulas and oddities but nowhere is it stated that they are art. An art museum is no place for this exhibit. I believe it is illegal to treat bodies this way in this country and that is why these come from China. I also believe this is testimony to the farming of organs that is also done in china and elsewhere. I believe this is a punishment by china to the dissidents of it's own county that not only will they lose their liberty in this life but forfeit there dignity in their death like the hanging dead in times past to frighten the people who would speak out against a dictator from one country or another.
Further I believe these bodies are a testimony of deep tyranny like the accumulated skulls of the beige yon rug-he. These are a testimony of a mascara above ground in the light for the world to see. If the argument is that these bodies where donated for this purpose I believe in my heart that is a bold faced lie. If any poor deranged person thinks this is the way they should treat themselves upon death than we in kindness should save them from themselves for the sake of their mothers fathers their children and our children this image is not one easily rubbed out. How can these children these students not lose faith in all of us for holding there had to an atrocity. Just the thought of my daughters body being used this way infuriates me and I could not be held responsible for what I would do to prevent this debasement of her body even thought I recently saw her id and it is stamped with donor in a red circle. If the body needs to be studied there are much simpler easier ways to help in the pursuit of that endeavor. I do not think the public can lay any claim to a need or a right to see such a sick voyeuristic show. I appreciate your keeping me in touch with this issue though it makes me very sad.

Mary Nelson Madison, Wisconsin

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October 21, 2006

Mr. Ginsburg, Tonight I saw an ad on t.v. for the Museum of Science exhibition, and could not believe my ears! (I had not known of this before.) I thought that I had heard that these were real human bodies in poses exhibited for gain at the Science Museum. I decided to Google the words which I had heard (to put my mind at rest) only to find out that the reality was worse than I had imagined!

I believe that some of these bodies (if not all of them) are executed people from China. Even if they are not, to grotesquely (or not) exhibit human bodies for gain, I believe is wrong, and is a step on the slippery slope of dehumanization. I agree with many of the well thought out comments against these exhibitions which are on your website. I am appalled! I am horrified!

I want to thank you for your courage and sense of duty and ethics. I wish that there were more citizens like you!

J Carter, Boston, MA

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October 19,2006

Bodies, specimens, what’s the big deal? *They* don’t care, *they* never had the chance to “opt out” of the mandatory donation process. *They* were never valuable, beautiful human individuals, each with a spark of the divine, each with a collection of individual experiences, loves, hates, passions, favorite foods, favorite articles of clothing, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers. They’re simply objects, presented here for your edification, so step right up! Enjoy the show!

I don’t know if it’ll do a lick of good for the families of these unclaimed victims of life, the universe and everything, or for the spirits of the dead individuals who may or may not be wandering the halls of all of those involved in this atrocious “exhibition,” but those nameless individuals will be in my prayers. Please consider adding them to yours, as well.

Brother Jeremy Puma. Seattle, WA Read his complete blog.

October 11, 2006

Hi Aaron Ginsburg

Yes I did share live forum on CBC radio regarding the exhibit of bodies at the Science World. In fact I was the only one who opposed to it. Although Rabbi David Mavassair also somewhat agreed with me. According to Sikh religion the human body is considered to be sacred "like a temple" in which the soul, a departed part of the Super Soul "Almighty Creator - God" dwels. We must
learn to respect and admire each other while we are alive. There is nothing to admire about a dead body and find miracles of the creator through it. The right time to admire human beings are when they are alive. Thats is why the Sikhs cremate the dead body and do not preserve it for exhibition purposes. If someone wants to donate his/her deceased body for scientific and research purposes it may be fine but there is no need to exhibit such donated bodies. This is my opinion and I tried to express it well to the best of my ability and knowledge on the CBC program

Best wishes and Regards,

Mota Singh Jheeta Surrey, British Columbia, Canada ______________________________________________________________________________________

October 5, 2006

I am upset that P.E. classes in my school are going to the exhibit. I think that my school shouldn’t go to this exhibit. I find the lack of permission from the people before they died, morally reprehensible. I support your cause fully.

A Seattle Student age 15 ___________________________________________

September 29, 2006

Body Worlds is anatomical pornography

It's so nice to know that I'm not alone in thinking that it's wrong to put dead bodies on public display for personal gain. However, Mr. Ginsberg, I feel compelled to do you one better and say that Body Worlds is nothing short of pornographic.
You see, pornography appeals to people's basest instincts; by using genuine dead human bodies, Body Worlds is appealing to people's basest instincts--or, as I like to think of it, our inner porn nuts. It is my belief that people aren't flocking to this kind of exhibit to learn about the human body as they are to satisfy some voyeuristic urges.
The Body Worlds--or, as I like to call it, Deathsploitation Theatre--exhibit is being hosted by Vancouver's Telus World of Science from now until January. I have no plans to see it, as I don't believe in supporting exploitation in any way. As you, Mr. Ginsberg, probably know by now, the Vancouver Courier has run a front-page story about the exhibit, and the editor of a Vancouver independent newspaper called The Westender sang its praises in one of the paper's recent editorials.
It's just a shame that capitalism run amok has come to putting cadavers on public display for personal profit.

A. M. Desilets, Vancouver, BC

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September 29, 2006

Hi- My sister lives in Rhode Island and refused to allow her son to go on a field trip with his school to see the exhibit. She told me about it and I was appalled that she was the only parent who had a problem with this display. I was doing my own research to see if others are being vocal about von Hagens' twisted method for becoming rich. That's how I came across your site. I am really saddened that our culture has changed so dramatically that this type of activity is condoned. I just don't get it-how could anyone want to see someone who has been skinned? How could we possibly be so de-sensitized that this is acceptable to so many in the name of science? Good luck with the petition-I hope the whole show is closed down for good.

Kathi Coletta, Oakland, NJ

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September 25, 2006

Its important to note that the exhibit in Seattle is not of bodies of people who gave consent for their remains to be put on view. Premiere Exhibitions does not state that they have individual permissions; they state that such are not necessary because they are not legally required by the Chinese.

The Chinese corpses used in the Seattle exhibit are of Chinese who died unidentified or indigent. Their bodies were not claimed for burial by anyone who cared. They were never given the opportunity to say "no", merely because they were poor, or homeless, or mentally ill, or prisoners.

The Chinese government makes money leasing their bodies to the US for entertainment purposes. Premier Exhibits is a for-profit publicly traded corporation. If education is the goal, they are doing a good job of teaching the world: "We can buy you. You are human only in proportion to your wealth. We don't care about your religion. We don't have to."

Maryanne K. Snyder Seattle, Washington

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September 21, 2006

Dear Mr. Ginsburg,

Thank you for your encouragement as well as the link to your website. If I my ask, how did you find my article (our website is relatively new)?
I salute you as well and admire your persistence even after the show has left Boston.
As you know, my concerns are essetially twofold: a) human rights, b) human dignity. As a Christian I am guided by Genesis 1:26-27 as well as 1 Corinthians 6:19 (Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?". I am glad we share the conviction that our creatureliness is no accident.

While anatomically the show may be very interesting I believe that we are really presented with a materialist and nihilist world view that says that all we are is a cut of meat. What actually worries me more than Dr. von Hagens and his show is the fact that we appear to be such a narcissistic culture that we think it is OK to use the dead for art, education, or entertainment (whatever it happens to be labeled at the time), and we don’t think twice. We really seem to be consumers before we are anything else.

I will paste an article below I had in our local paper on Tuesday (and which, unfortunately, doesn't seem to keep too many people from going. The principal at my son's school told me that he had read it and did not have an answer for me. But it all seems to be on a purely intellectual level, we enjoy a good argument for the intellectual pleasure it brings. No further consequences).

Thanks again,

Christoph

J. Christoph Reiners, pastor

Peace Lutheran Church

Abbotsford,B.C.

Pastor Reiners wrote a moving article in The Abbotsford News. ___________________________________________

September 20, 2006

I wish people would stop trying to impose their personal moralities on the public as a whole. To repeat a common theme: If you are offended do not go to see the exhibit, but do not have the arrogance to make what should be
my choice and my decision for me. I am a PhD student in Neuroscience and have spent much time learning my craft which has included dissections. There is no pseudoscience about this exhibit, it is what it is, anatomical preperations meant to interest and educate, and if a little sensationalism gets people interested in Science then great. It was only about 200 years ago that it was illegal for medical doctors to learn about the human body via dissections and medicine sorely suffered because of misguided morality. Anyone who has actually dissected a specimin of any kind knows how much reality differs from a model. Would you want to go to a surgeon who had no idea what an actual human chest looked like on a real human, would you trust yourself to someone who has only studied on a model or on a dog... I doubt it. Knowledge is not given, it is learned and earned. You mention dignity after death but I argue what is more dignified, educating
and increasing knowledge or being eaten by worms? These people have made a choice to willingly donate themselves for science, it is their choice, not yours to make. I hope that you and or any member of your family never needs to have a transplant using donated tissue or organs, because it seems that if you had your way that would also be considered undignified and immoral.

Stephanie Moeckel-Cole

University of Massachusetts/Amherst ______________________________________________

September 8, 2006

Hi Aaron,

Thanks for your phone call just now. You are right that each person can make a difference, and that each person matters, even when they have died. We are doing a service to all by asking questions about the ethical grounds of Body Worlds.

My concern is for where this process of "plasticization" will take us in the future. Will this process be available to all who can afford it for all who desire it? If a husband cherishes his wife, and if she consents to the process, will he then plasticize her body and place it in the home? What would become of these preserved bodies 25, 50, 75 years later, when they are no longer cherished?

That leads me to my next concern: What is going to become of these specific bodies once the exhibit no longer draws spectators? Will they be incinerated at the dump? Will they be returned to their families for burial? What is actually planned?

I really appreciate your serving as the central figure for this discussion at the present. Let's hope many other voices join in to stop this troubling trend.

Sincerely,

Meg Howard Boston, Ma

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September 6, 2006

Thank you for your message. I am glad someone is taking this seriously. If my article is of use to you, please do use it.
All the best and shanna tova.

Rabbi Reuven Hammer London, England

Rabbi Reuven Hammer recently wrote an article for The Jerusalem Post titled “The dignity of the dead.” about Body Worlds and similar exhibits. He is the head of the Rabbinical Court of the Masorti Movement and the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel and is currently serving as the Rabbi at the New London Synagogue in London, England. The complete article is here. Excerpts follow:

What does Judaism have to say about all of this? The answer is clear. On the one hand Judaism forbids doing anything to destroy the body, such as cremation. On the other it forbids doing anything to preserve it. There is simple dignity in this position. This is what we are and this is what we will become. Treat the human frame with dignity, remembering that it housed a human being and that the body is nothing to be ashamed of. Indeed the Torah considers the body to be the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and there is every likelihood that originally this belief was a literal one.

The Jewish attitude toward the body is demonstrated beautifully in the blessing recited each morning known as asher yatzar:
Blessed are You, who fashioned the human being with wisdom, creating openings and organs; if one should be open or closed it would be impossible to exist. Blessed are You, healer of all flesh who does wondrously.

Found in Berakhot 60b, this blessing recognizes the body as a divine creation, not to be despised or disdained. The sages recognized the marvel of the construction of our physical form and used this to demonstrate the miracle of human existence. Nor is it accidental that the very next blessing speaks of the soul and describes it as pure. Both body and soul, the physical and the non-physical parts of human beings, are equally the creation of God and deserving of honor and respect.
The dead must be treated with dignity and not used for display or entertainment. The body must be returned to the earth at the earliest possible moment. Deuteronomy 21:23 specifies that a criminal who has been executed must be given a burial that same day and not lie unburied overnight "for that is an affront to God."

(end of excerpt)

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September 2, 2006
I ventured to the Bodies: Exhibition in New York City's South Street Seaport the other day an exhibition similar to the Von Hagen Body Worlds displays, and I felt that the comparisons allowed for my thoughts on this topic. I arrived at Bodies: The Exhibition, intrigued, and curious about what exactly this exhibit was. After carefully going through the exhibit I must say that it struck me as slightly craven, and perhaps unintentionally vulgar, lacking in morality and humanity. These were people, who felt love, and pain, people with souls, with memories, and names, and yet there is no testament to that, there is no mention of lives that were lived, and whether that is due to privacy laws, or the subjects desire, it still strikes me as a rather shallow display on human beings to be totally devoid of that which is the essence of us. We are not purely mechanical devices, nuts and bolts, pieces that have functions, we are organic, we are spiritual, we are filled with a light that can not be displayed, but can at the very least be referred to. Honestly I felt that the plastination process was spoken of with more reverence than the humans encased within it.
After the exhibition I focused my thoughts, and gathered my opinions, speaking with one of the very helpful people at the information desk not ten feet from the gift shop, I tried to secure as many facts as I could, a pursuit that continued after I left leading me online, leading me here and elsewhere. I sat for a moment and reflected with my friends, and came to the startling conclusion that while this serves an educational purpose, it tours as a commercial venture, admitting students, gawkers, professionals, Children, and anyone else who can pony up the hefty admission fee, it tours as a clinical and antiseptic display of slick science seemingly without a hint that this loose collection of limbs and other assorted body parts once held blood, and dreams, and a want to be treated with respect in death as in life. It is quite possible that these people never envisioned a restless afterlife, propped up in air conditioned loft spaces posed in various degrees of athletic activity that range from throwing a baseball, to conducting a symphony, to giving a big thumbs up. Fake plastic smiles formed into fake plastic faces, an innovative polymer encasing nature's natural evaporation of that which remains. Fingers point, children to young to appreciate the gravity of what they are seeing laugh and giggle, and these sarcophaguses stand frozen, jailed. They are gone now, yes, devoid of feelings and emotions, but they should not be left without a sense of honor.
Mystery clouds that honor as much as anything else, “donated” bodies culled from the abandoned in a Chinese medical facility, a majority of men with very few females, brings pause, while whispers of past indiscretions relating to the this process involving bullet riddled bodies, and executed prisoners coupled with the realities of China's human rights violations gives out right fear. Were the “donated” informed of their dual role as learning tools and showpieces? Were there families? And exactly what right does this company, or a government that let it happen have to take abandoned bodies and utilize them in any way that they see fit? No matter their station, their lifestyle, or their economic status, these were human beings that now pose with footballs to the awe, delight, and intrigue of others, stuffed from the outside in and they deserved a choice, an outright explanation of what this journey would be for their forms, denying someone of that is nothing short of a desecration.

Jason Tabrys Montville, NJ

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September 2, 2006
Thank you for creating this forum, I must say as time fills in behind the memory of seeing those poor people I feel genuine regret at the fact that these were thoughts that had to be reached through reflection, you wish it was instinctual, and yet it was not, I don't think an honest sense of shock, and sadness until leaving the exhibit, perhaps in part because while knowing that these were human beings, the process allows you to suspend that, allows you to view them as if they are not real, perhaps intentionally to withdraw any sense of fear, or disgust from a witness. Clearly they are not only "playing" with dead bodies, but with our psyches. I don't know if you read the articles in Discover on the topic, but to hear Von Hagen speak with the goal of accomplishing dual superstardom in the world of science and in art worries me, what gives him the right to use these bodies as canvas, as paint? The greatest gift of man is not an unending field of possibilities, it is his ability to exercise discretion, to limit his span, and do not just what can be done, but instead what should be done, I only wish Von Hagen had that capability, those who do not can veer off into madness, and that may be what were seeing.

Jason Tabrys Montville, NJ


P.s.: If in anyway I can help further this cause let me know

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Friday, September 1, 2006 - Updated: 12:08 AmEST Judaism offended

By Hersn Goldman/ Letters To the Editor of the Boston Herald


Studying cadavers may be important to medical students for the advancement of treating patients. But, in my opinion, the Museum of Science’s display of dead people to the public provides an entertainment frowned upon by traditional Judaism (“Where are the protesters at Body Worlds?” Aug. 16).
At Jewish funerals, the deceased is generally buried within 24 hours of death. This tradition of not delaying burial is derived from the book of Deuteronomy:
“If a man will have committed a sin whose judgment is death, and he shall be put to death, and you shall hang him on a tree. His body shall not remain on the tree, rather you shall bury him that day, for a hanging person is an insult to G-d.” (Deut. 21:22,23)
The medieval rabbi Rashi explains the verse saying that the spectacle of the unburied corpse is an insult to G-d because a person is created “in the image of G-d.”

Hersn Goldman, Swampscott.,Ma


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August 9, 2006

Well written.
I, however, actually have seen the exhibit, and although it is not for everyone, it was fascinating for me.
If you don’t like something that is shoved in your face, get angry, and I will help you push it away.
This is a PAID exhibit, not free, so to see this exhibit you need to make a conscious decision as an adult to see it.
I applaud your efforts to warn people that this is not the type of exhibit you may want to take your children to, or if you are queasy, but I do not agree with your efforts to stop the exhibit.

Keep up the good writing and the awareness,

Tom Catyb Tewksbury, MA

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July 29, 2006 While reading Joanna Weiss's article in the Globe (July29) on this exhibit,
I could not help but feel the lack of respect for the dead because of what this "artist" has done. When I first heard this exhibit was coming to Boston, it interested me because I thought certain that the cadavers would be synthetic. Now I have mixed emotions about seeing it. This is all about money and notoriety. It would not surprise me if this exhibit were forced to close.

Joanne Wheeler Canton, MA

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This exhibit is a horrible exploitation of the people who have died. Furthermore, it will draw out the pathological people in our midst who are lonely and isolated and ill.

Please be responsible and stop or curtail this exhibit.

It good to protest no matter what the result. It's not wasted time. Sometimes I think the world has gone insane. I see things like this (protest-ed.) and I think there's hope for civilization.

Thank you for doing this. I mean that.

Martha J. Nugent Yarmouth Port, MA

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All I have to say is thank God there are others out there who think the Body Worlds exhibit was wrong. DEAD WRONG! My friends and I went to the exhibit last week (thinking it was a movie) and I was having a great time at the beginning criticizing all the models until my friend read a sign saying that some of them were real!!!! OMG. I didn't know how to handle myself. The rest of the way through the exhibit my friends and I couldn't help but speak our minds as we passed by each model while other people stared. All I could do was ask aloud, "Do you honestly think these people are at peace?!?!" What is the point? If scientists have discovered plastination then why are they still pickling, poking and prodding these people?!?! Allowing the public to criticize them and stare and be near all the negative energy?!?! I could've read everything there in my anatomy book!!! It is absolutely unnecessary to display the bodies and slice them up and charge 10 bucks a person to come and look at them. Thankfully we have medicine and the people who are willing to be guinea pigs, but that doesn't mean they should be skinned and baked into ice-skating and "the thinker" positions. It's not art; it's an immoral and gruesome way to disrespect the dead.


Sarah, Denver, CO

______________________________________________Dear July 3, 2006

Aaron,

Thank you for making the main thing the main thing... and that is that WE do not have the right to disrespect the dead EVEN if they consented.
Genesis 23:4 ... "Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead." I have been weeping over this issue of the dead bodies on display. It not only disrespects the dead but disrespects God for He has told us to respect and bury the dead." Those bumper stickers that read God bless America... well... It is not so much that God should bless America... But that America should bless God... by following what He has told us clearly in His Holy Scriptures. Disrespecting the dead is not only disrespectful of the dead... but kicks against the knowledge of God... and what God has clearly told us in His word. America bless God!

Carol Dickinson, Houston, TX

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June 9, 2006 Dear Aaron,

I wish you success in this endeavor. Although BodyWorlds has an educational component,
It ultimately degrades the human spirit.
Best wishes.

Rav Baruch Frydman-Kohl, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Beth Tzedec Congregation of Toronto


Note: Rabbi Frydman-Kohl has posted an
article about this issue.
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Aaron: Thank you for calling this outrage to people's attention. You have done a service to human dignity.

Richard Fein Amherst, Ma

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June 5,2006 Aaron,

I can understand using bodies and body parts to advance medical research. I cannot understand, flaying a body to display as "art". Couldn't this have been better, making body casts and then using other materials to produce the "sculptures"? This way the bodies could be returned to a grave and the exhibit would be just as interesting.

Noah HorowitzSharon, Ma

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June 5,2006

Thanks, Aaron for bringing this to my attention. I think it is terrible.

Evelyn Krieger Sharon, Ma



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June,2006

Kol Hakavod Aaron, I agree with you that this traveling exhibit is sensationalistic and yet another affront to human dignity. If this were an exhibit of animals the PETA people and all their supporters would be screaming to the heavens! I applaud you for speaking up for human dignity!

When I was a dental student we were taught in gross anatomy class to have the utmost respect for the deceased people whom we were learning from. We were taught that they had donated their bodies in order to teach students and to hopefully, thereby, help their fellow man. At the end of the class a memorial service was held so that we could pay our final respects to these people. Beyond anatomy a proper respect for human dignity was taught in this course. I wonder what has happened to those same values today.

Mark L. Bailen Sharon, Ma

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