As any honest, credible legal dictionary writer will tell you, it’s not always an easy job. We comb the law reports and the law journals always hunting down that which has not yet been addressed in our respective products.
Duhaime’s Law Dictionary is proud to go where no man had gone before, defining terms in the context of law because they have perplexed a court somewhere yet no legal dictionary defines the term. God ... zombie ... are only some of the examples of words legally defined in Duhaime’s Law Dictionary.
But today, we fight our instinct as a story comes out of Philadelphia of a 21-year old young lady who attacked her roommate-mother in the bathtub and tried to eat her.
It’s not the headline that got my attention:
Irish American Cannibal Attacks Mother in Bath and Eats her Thumb.
Even the essence of the story was not enough to light my fires:
“… the heinous crime that took place in the Irish neighborhood of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia suburb. Foley’s mother was reportedly in the bath when her daughter burst in and attacked her, biting off a piece of her thumb and biting her arms and legs.”
Or the Facebook picture of the cannibal Kristie Foley (see images).
All things considered, I could even defend her in a Court of law (for a sizeable retainer as there may be some expert reports required). I’m not sure what the defence would be … yet. For that, I’d have to see pictures of the mother thumb. One learns to never pre-judge in law: there may be something about the mother’s thumb … calf … something a good, ambitious psychiatrist can chew on.
And if you are a lawyer, you are already asking the good questions: did she eat the thumb or not? Did she spit it out? If she ate it, did she use any condiments? If she bit, ripped, but did not eat, is it really the more egregious offence of cannibalism? Was she "Irish" or North Irish?
But what got the legal dictionary juices flowing was what the Upper Darby police chief told the media:
“We never found the tip of the finger. We don't know whether she ate it or swallowed it. Totally out of control. We don't know if she was high on drugs or what….
”It's domestic cannibalism.”
Yes it is. Domestic cannibalism.
And just in time too what with New Year’s parties only a day or two away - tasteless domestic cannibalism jokes:
Two domestic cannibals are eating their father, a dead clown, and one says to the other "Hey, does Dad taste funny to you?"
And what better special area of the law to propose to the faculty at the next What Can We Think Of Next To Get Grant Money meeting than domestic cannibalism. It cries out for legal research, a law journal .... an all-tuition paid trip to ground zero of cannibalism, Papua New Guinea.
But you want law dictionary:
Domestic cannibalism: The eating of another human being, in whole or in part, where there is some family relationship between eator and eatee.
Simple and usable and excluding, of course, non-domestic cannibalism.
But for Ms Kristie Foley, domestic cannibalism may have never become a distinct legal term - a star yet undiscovered in the legal universe - though she can’t have been the first to have done it.
So in the final analysis, we simply can’t add domestic cannibalism. We’ll leave that to pseudo-reference sites which add anything, all anonymous, and who ask you for your money to do it (Wikipedia).
After all, we have corporate reputation to protect from domestic cannibalism.
Thumbs down to domestic cannibalism but for Foley, thumbs up for the Jerry Springer Show.
- Bender, William, 'Domestic cannibalism' in Upper Darby?, Philadelphia Inquirer, Dec. 21, 2012 [http://articles.philly.com/2012-12-21/news/35935975_1_cannibalism-upper-darby-police-superintendent-michael-chitwood]
- Duhaime, Lloyd, Cannibalism on the High Seas: the Common Law's Perfect Storm, Duhaime’s LawMag, Aug. 20, 2011 [http://www.duhaime.org/LawMag/LawArticle-1320/Cannibalism-on-the-High-Seas-the-Common-Laws-Perfect-Storm.aspx]
- Higgins, Hilda, Irish American cannibal attacks mother in bath and eats her thumb, The Irish Central Times, Dec. 21, 2012 [http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Irish-American-cannibal-attacks-mother-in-bath-and-eats-her-thumb-184347361.html]