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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

 

Who Really Owns Ted Williams' Head?

For my first blog post, I wanted to go a little out there compared to the typical talk about something boring related to the economy. One of the major points of emphasis in class so far has been about property rights and who really holds them. Seeing that it is almost Halloween, I went with a more morbid aspect to this topic.
For those who aren't big fans of baseball, Ted Williams may not really ring a bell to you. He was arguably one of the greatest players to play for the Boston Red Sox. Williams suffered from cardiomyopathy which inevitably lead to a cardiac arrest and his death. So far there is nothing to special besides his Hall of Fame celebrity and a bad heart. Like most people, he had wanted his remains to be cremated and wanted his ashes to be spread in the Florida keys. Here is where the topic of property rights kicks into full swing. Williams' son and daughter, John-Henry and Claudia decided to have his remains cryogenically frozen. Disturbingly, due to the high cost of keeping a person's remains frozen, they chose to keep only his head frozen. Normally not much could be done considering the siblings wanted their father's remains to be frozen but the problem was his oldest daughter wanted to keep Ted's wishes to remain as in he be cremated. Keeping government intervention out of this conversation, we had two sides fighting over what the will was of their late father on how his remains would be handled.
We discussed in class about how there is a tax on death and other factors that come about when someone passes away. In reality, the body of someone who passed away is still technically there's so why is it that others have the rights to their valuables; even their body? In the case of Williams, his oldest daughter brought about a lawsuit to have his remains cremated at the wishes of Ted himself but inevitably lost when they found evidence that Ted was a strong advocate for science and allowed his family to "use" him in scientific ways if they decided to. It is hard to say who really had the right to decide what to do with Williams' remains. On one hand, you have Ted who wished to be turned into ashes and spread in the Florida keys, on the other you have siblings fighting it out to either continue his will or to turn him into a popsicle. Although this case is somewhat unique due to his celebrity and the idea of freezing his head, millions of people face this challenge everyday. If its not siblings fighting over rights of a person's body, it may be governments or other outside forces. You would assume that someone in close relation would take over those rights but in most cases, there are multiple people who believe they have a say in the matter. It is hard for the person to have a say in what happens with their body when they are no longer living. Property rights of an individual will always be a strong conflict when a body can no longer talk.

-Dustin Kosley

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2002/03/habeas_corpses.html
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2632809/We-did-love-Baseball-legend-Ted-Williams-daughter-finally-speaks-brother-spent-100-000-fathers-body-cryogenically-frozen.html
http://deadspin.com/what-it-took-to-get-ted-williamss-head-off-his-body-1475054922

Comments:
How might the concept of homesteading be applied?
 
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