Colonial Cannibals

In school, we were taught that the colonial settlers were thoroughly admirable — hardy yet devout, hard-working and keen on personal liberty, bringing civilization to an untamed continent.  The reality, it turns out, isn’t quite so trim and tidy.

Anthropologists have uncovered strong evidence of cannibalism among the Jamestown settlers.  The evidence consists of human remains that appear to date from the “starving time” — the winter of 1609-10, when beleaguered settlers were crowded into a fort and under attack by local Indians.  The bones are of a 14-year-old girl who, based upon marks to her skull, appears to have been butchered after she was dead and stripped of meat for the remaining settlers to consume as they desperately sought to stay alive.

Interestingly, there were written accounts of cannibalism that date from the early days of Jamestown, including accounts of starving settlers digging corpses out of the ground to eat their flesh and a crazed husband who killed his pregnant wife and salted her flesh to preserve it for later consumption.  Of course, we weren’t taught any of that in our American history classes, but the recent forensic studies serve to corroborate the early written accounts.

So much of what we have learned about America has been air-brushed and sanitized — and for what purpose?  Why try to make early settlers into saint-like creatures rather than recognizing that they often acted out of desperation, anger, jealousy, greed, and other base human emotions?  No one condones cannibalism, but the true story of Jamestown’s “starving time” tells us a lot more about how far people will go to survive in a desolate wilderness than whitewashed tales of prim colonists praying over tables groaning with food.

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The Cannibalistic Horror Of “Bath Salts”

Usually horrific stories are about an atrocity in a faraway land and circumstances that don’t have much resonance with our daily lives.  Occasionally, however, such a story strikes closer to home — and thereby becomes even more chilling.

The recent gruesome cannibalistic attack in Miami is one such story.  What could possibly cause two men to be naked on a bridge, with one man literally eating the other’s face (including nose and eyeballs), growling animal-like to police, and finally having to be shot multiple times because he was unresponsive to commands to stop?

The apparent answer is:  drugs.  Specifically, a new kind of LSD called “bath salts” that acts as a stimulant and leaves users in a state of complete delirium.  Police and ER doctors in Miami have seen the effects of the drug, which can dramatically increase body temperature and leave its victims extremely aggressive, with a kind of temporary super-human strength and an urge to use their jaws as weapons.

Some libertarians argue that we shouldn’t regulate drug use, because it is a victimless crime.  The awful nature of “bath salts” and their effect on people belie that argument — at least, as it relates to this particular drug.  It is beyond me why anyone would develop a drug that has such terrible effects, of obvious danger to both the user and to the people around him, and it is even more unimaginable that anyone would sell such a drug on the street.  I suppose it’s too much to expect drug producers and pushers to act with any kind of responsibility, but anyone involved in the “bath salts” drug trade should be punished, harshly, for injecting such an awful, hazardous substance into our society.