Human Exceptionalism

Murdered Falun Gong as “Art?”

I have written of the very real prospect that the Chinese government has murdered Falun Gong for their organs.

I have also criticized the “artist,” Gunther von Hagens–who plastinizes human cadavers and puts them on display. Not only is this (in my view) appalling decadence, but to prove the point, von Hagens has poised some of his bodies as if they were having sexual intercourse and engaging in other sexual acts. Yes, cadaver porn.

I never really put the two stories together. But now, according to a very disturbing article by author Ethan Gutmann published in the Weekly Standard, some of von Hagen’s bodies may be murdered Falun Gong, perhaps even those killed for their organs. I can’t do justice to the full and carefully researched article in a blog, but here’s a very rough nutshell gist. From, “Bodies at an Exhibition:”

[E]lderly Falun Gong women were patiently informing me that the bodies in von Hagens’s and Sui’s exhibitions are those of Falun Gong practitioners, hideously displayed for people’s amusement. I ignored them. Too melodramatic, I thought. But in Vienna I’m noticing that the liver and kidneys appear to be missing from some of the plastinated bodies on display. Is it conceivable that there were dual-use bodies, the organs harvested before plastination? And could those kidneys and livers still be alive inside aged Chinese and Japanese, Europeans and Americans? 

There is little doubt that the Falun Gong were harvested. But were they plastinized? A very upset at the prospect von Hagens says he cremated his Chinese bodies. But Gutmann thinks the matter still worth pursuing to find the truth about what has been happening in China:

According to medical specialists I’ve consulted, mitochondrial DNA can be extracted from fixed anatomical specimens and used to prove relationships out to third- degree relatives. In other words, one could give the organ-ization Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting or some other responsible entity DNA samples from both shows, test the samples from von Hagens’s figures to see if all the bodies are Caucasian, then attempt to match the DNA from any that turn out to be Chinese, as well as DNA from Sui’s displays, against DNA from Chinese families who lost a loved one through an “enforced disappearance”—a PSB arrest for religious or political beliefs—during the years of high plastination…

But for now, DNA testing would require cooperation. Perhaps von Hagens would agree, happy to clear his name of any lingering doubts. If he realized that DNA samples could be taken from his figures without damaging them—any more than a van Gogh is damaged when a tiny sample of paint is taken to prove its authenticity—he might cooperate. And assuming he were exonerated, Dr. Death could rightfully jeer my dark fantasies at the museum, and I would very gladly laugh along with him.

The prospect for mass murder should never be shrugged off. I hope von Hagens leaps at the chance to learn the truth and clear doubts about his ethics.

Until then, It seems to me that anyone who attends these exhibits could not only be engaging in voyeurism, but also unwittingly paying to view the evidence of terrible atrocities as “art. 


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