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From: KT Date: October 21, 2011 2:44:48 AM EDT To: aaron ginsburg

        Dear Mr. Ginsburg

    Hello, my name is KT. I recently chanced upon an article about your protests against the display of real human cadavers, and I have to say that I must disagree in some parts. I do understand your standpoint on how it "cheapens life and death", but that said, the purpose for exhibits such as "Bodies... The Exhibition" is to educate people and to inspire the minds of children. Many world problems today are caused, in my opinion, by ignorance and I believe that this is the type of thing that sparks a child's mind into dropping their dreams of being a Power Ranger and thinking 'Oh, this is wonderful, I'll become so and so'. Furthermore, the people that donated their bodies were no doubt fully aware or the cause that they were serving and chose to serve even after death rather then be buried in an expensive casket on an expensive plot of land.
    I want to hear more from your side and why you are against the display of the cadavers. I'm sorry if any part of this letter has offended you in any way and hope to hear a response from you soon.
                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sincerely, KT


From: Aaron Ginsburg Date: October 21, 2011 9:22:43 AM


HI KT,

Thanks for your message. What article did you see?

this site http://sites.google.com/site/stopbodyworlds/ has more information about why these exhibits are wrong.

While it is true that there may be some educational benefit, in my opinion the cost to human dignity does not justify the benefits. Car accidents and train wrecks may have the same benefit, but should we have them? When I was young an oil tanker hit a reef just off the coast and caught on fire. People died... I know someone who decided to become a nurse when she witnessed the tragedy. I am sure she prefer that the accident had never happened.

Whether people donated their bodies (and that is open to question) is irrelevant. And even  if they donated their bodies knowing what would be done them, this too is irrelevant.  You can't give permission to do something that is wrong!

An argument can be made that people do not own their own bodies... and that they belong to all of us.

But look at the site for more information. I have attached an article I wrote. It is on the site.

Best wishes, Aaron  Ginsburg



Aaron Ginsburg, guest columnist
GateHouse News Service
Tue Oct 23, 2007, 07:29 PM EDT
This is wrong.
On Sunday, Oct. 28, at 2 p.m., I will be at Bodies the Exhibition in Framingham holding a sign that says "This is wrong." I hope you will join me.

Bodies The Exhibition consists of 25 plasticized, real human bodies, and several hundred body parts. You will hear a lot of questionable claims about this exhibit from Premier Exhibitions, the exhibitor.

Premier Exhibitions is a publicly held company whose duty is to maximize its value for its shareholders. Almost nothing it says can be taken at face value. The bodies belong to unknown Chinese citizens, who did not give permission for this use of their bodies. It is possible that they were the bodies of prisoners, even of executed prisoners. China is notorious for an organ transplant business that may depend on the bodies of political prisoners.

In spite of claims to the contrary, there is no paperwork trail for the bodies in this exhibit, and nothing that Premier Exhibitions says about the origin of the bodies can be accepted as if it was a fact. You will hear that the exhibit is legal. In the first place the word legal has almost no meaning in China. In the second place, these exhibits are largely unregulated in the United States.

Of course you are aware of the numerous recalls of dangerous products from China. It would not be surprising if the bodies in this exhibit were "recalled." You will be told that there is no substitute for learning from real bodies, as opposed to models. Real bodies are not subject to a plasticizing process. Real bodies decay, rapidly. These bodies have been turned into plastic models. In fact, they are imported as models, not as bodies. You will be told that the bodies are on loan; they are rented for a cool $25 million.

How can something be wrong that is claimed to be and actually may be educational, not to mention fascinating and beautiful? We learn from everything we do and see. So these claims cannot justify anything. For example, in Auschwitz, the so-called Nazi doctors kept some of their victims from the gas chamber to preform hideous experiments. It is possible that something was learned, but those experiments were still wrong.

In the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, African-American subjects were not treated for syphilis long after a cure became available in a study that morphed from studying treatment options to studying the course of the untreated disease (without the subjects informed consent). This was wrong, even though something may have been learned.

If you visit this exhibit, you may learn something about the human body. What you are also learning is that it is permissible to plasticize real human bodies, display them in all sorts of poses for the titillation of the public, and allow the public to gawk at them for the price of an admission ticket.

You will learn how companies market something that is wrong by hiding behind claims of education, health, and science. You will learn how companies market something by claiming it has health benefits such as getting people to stop smoking or or refrain from overeating. (We are surrounded by real people dying from smoking and overeating, and don't learn from them.) There is contempt for the public in this kind of marketing. The attitude seems to be that the more outlandish and fantastic the claim, the more likely the public will fall for it.

There are some things that we know, instinctively, to be wrong. For example, it is wrong to commit murder. It is wrong to hurt other people's feelings. And it is wrong to show disrespect to other human beings. It is not necessary, and perhaps not possible to prove that these things are wrong. As the poet Lucebert said, "All things of value are defenseless."

Why is this exhibit wrong? Out of respect for the living, the bodies of the deceased should be treated with respect. By treating our bodies as mere objects like this exhibit does, we cheapen the value of life. As we reduce ourselves to objects, we open ourselves to the attitude that who cares if a few, or a few million, of these objects are damaged or killed. Hitler and Stalin both dehumanized their victims to make their destruction more palatable. The cost to human dignity of this exhibit is incalculable. Is that a price worth paying for things that could be learned just as well by other means? We don't need to see "real" plasticized bodies to know that human beings are complicated and fascinating. In fact we never need real objects to educate ourselves.

I am not willing to pay the price. Are you?



From: KT  Date: October 21, 2011 7:13:48 PM EDT

    Mr. Ginsburg

The article that I first read was here. Now, the main difference between a car wreck and an exhibit such as this is the simple fact that people were unnecessarily harmed/killed in a car wreck, whereas the people in the exhibits ware already dead, they did not kill people for this just to display them. Furthermore, I have been to one of the  exhibits recently and I can see how someone could be against the laminating and display of what used to be someone's mother, but there was an exhibit that spoke upon the dangers of smoking and it showed human lungs that had belonged to smokers. There was a clear box near for anyone who wanted to throw away their cigarettes... the box was nearly half full. So there was that many less smokers and that many less children that would be exposed to second-hand smoke that day.

In response to the latter part of your letter, the person most definitely owns his or her own body. If our body did not belong to us, then to whom does it belong to, and why then do we and only we control it? I don't think you are implying that it is alright to own another person (slavery),but rather that you can not do anything you please to your own body. Which would also mean that you are most likely against suicide, which I agree is horrible but it is the right of the person to decide that life is not worth living. No one has the right to intervene then because it would just be torture for the person in question, and I don't think any of us condones to torture.

On a less related note, what is your response to cadaver labs? The bodies are used for study and they are not made fun of or disrespected in any way. That said, they are still cut apart and probed. These labs can save countless lives and and have resulted in many medical breakthroughs that have prevented others from ending up in that same lab.



From: Aaron Ginsburg Date: October 21, 2011 8:21:21 PM EDT


I will intersperse my comments in bold. but all of my responses are on the site.  Aaron




The article that I first read was here. Now, the main difference of a car wreck and an exhibit such as this is the simple fact that people were unnecessarily harmed/killed in a car wreck, whereas the people in the exhibits ware already dead, they did not kill people for this just to display them.
although this is not my point, how can you be sure about the origin of the bodies? Many of them come from China....and may be the bodies of prisoners, even political prisoners... my point was that this use of the bodies is tantamount to an accident to opponents of the exhibits.  
Furthermore, I have been to one of the said exhibits recently and I can see how someone could be against the laminating and display of what used to be someone's mother, but there was an exhibit that spoke upon the dangers of smoking and it showed human lungs that had belonged to smokers. There was a clear box near for anyone who wanted to throw away their cigarettes... the box was nearly half full. So there was that many less smokers and that many less children that would be exposed to second-hand smoke that day.  KT

You are being misled by show business. This is just an attempt to get people to suspend their judgement by hiding behind claims of science, health, or education.  There is no proof that anyone stopped smoking in spite of what you saw. And even if they did, the end does not justify the means. Finally, there are other ways to scare people to try to get them to stop smoking.  As I say on the site, we see people walking around who can't breath because of smoking... sometimes on portable oxygen... But has this resulted in less smoking?  To reduce this to the absurd level, and it is absurd, one could make the claim that the exhibit promotes health because people get exercise by walking through the exhibit. Therefore my response to this line of argument, to put it bluntly, is, "So what."  AG

In response to the latter part of your letter, the person most definitely owns his or her own body. If our body did not belong to us, then to whom does it belong to, and why then do we and only we control it? I don't think you are implying that it is alright to own another person (slavery),but rather that you can not do anything you please to your own body. KT

I think you will find this point best explained here:  http://sites.google.com/site/stopbodyworlds/media-coverage/rob-van-gerwen  Here is a quote from that page by Rob Van Gerwen "What is, according to me, wrong about the assumption that we can alienate our bodies from ourselves like we can our car, is that after we pass away, the body – like it has been shared property during life – becomes the property of our relatives. Even while alive, the person did not own it. The director of the Beurs claims all legal procedures were followed. With this he means, among other things, that the deceased handed over their bodies officially in writing. This may be legally correct, but it is profoundly problematic morally. To make it morally acceptable, those forms would have to be presented to the relatives (family, neighbors, friends and enemies!) and if a mere one of them would object then the body ought not to be traded."  AG

Which would also mean that you are most likely against suicide, which I agree is horrible but it is the right of the person to decide that life is not worth living. No one has the right to intervene then because it would just be torture for the person in question, and I don't think any of us condones to torture.

I will try to respond, although I have not thought about this as much as I have about the exhibits.  The distance from suicide to assisted suicide to euthanasia is not very great. Because of this slippery slope alone, I don't think suicide should be condoned.
  AG
 

On a less related note, what is your response to cadaver labs. The bodies are used for study and they are not made fun of or disrespected in any way. That said, they are still cut apart and probed. These labs can save countless lives and and have resulted in many medical breakthroughs that have prevented others from ending up in that same lab.

Assuming that is the case, I personally do not see a problem here
. AG

Aaron
 

From: KT Date: October 22, 2011 1:39:05 AM EDT

This will probably be the last time I bother you. I just wanted to say that you are one of the most reasonable people I've met. Many people say 'I can correct, this is my side, end of story'. But you have considerably weakened my argument through reasoning and I myself do not know what to think about the subject anymore. There are also some valid arguments on the website you supplied me with.

KT



FROM: aaron ginsburg October 22, 2011 8:14:19 AM EDT
KT,

You are not bothering me. I have enjoyed our correspondence.  My goal is to get people to think. The exhibits' goal is to overawe us with claims of health science education and claims of "but we have permission" and to dissuade people from thinking for themselves. 

You are reasonable and patient yourself.

Aaron

Aaron
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