At some point, there might have been some sort of emergency logic in not picking up bodies lying (or floating) in public view in New Orleans: Help the living first, because you can’t do much for the dead. But does that logic still hold two weeks after the disaster? At some point you’d have to think that leaving corpses lying in the open might be considered harmful both physically, for the disease potential and encouragement of vermin, and psychologically, for the impact on morale of such callous disregard for the dignity of the deceased.
Reading the New Orleans Times-Picayune, it looks like the “authorities,” whoever they are, haven’t reached that point:
“Traveling by pirogue through the flooded Broadmoor neighborhood Saturday, two men spotted a body floating in a side yard at Rocheblave and Octavia streets. They reported it to National Guardsmen and a civilian airboat operator, who said they were aware of it .
“For 13 days in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the body of Alcede Jackson lay on a porch at 4732 Laurel St., wrapped in a plastic bag and covered in a blanket beneath a sign quoting the evangelist John and commending Jackson to ‘the loving arms of Jesus.’
“Across town, a left turn at Fern Street in the Carrollton neighborhood provided a clear view of the corpse of a man lying face-down on the sidewalk near a vacant lot. He wore blue jeans. His head was uncovered. Residents who witnessed the scene also informed a pair of National Guardsmen stationed on North Claiborne Avenue. They said they knew.”
Compared to this, the “bring out your dead” scenario in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was downright humane and efficient.