“I’m a little surprised this issue hasn’t been tackled before in another case,” [Judge Michael] Lucci said.That's getting pretty metaphysical... more metaphysical than the burrito's essence of sandwich!
The Webster’s dictionary defines “animal” as “any of a kingdom of living beings,” [the man's lawyer] said.
If you include carcasses in that definition, he said, “you really go down a slippery slope with absurd results.”
[The lawyer] argued: When does a turkey cease to be an animal? When it is dead?
When it is wrapped in plastic packaging in the freezer? When it is served, fully cooked?...
“The common and ordinary meaning of a word can be found in how people actually use the word,” [the district attorney] wrote in his response to the motion.
When a person’s pet dog dies, he told Lucci, the person still refers to the dog as his or her dog, not a carcass.
“It stays a dog for some time,” [the D.A.] said....
“It did not lose its essence as a deer, an animal, when it died,” he said.
Note: Here in Wisconsin, a court dismissed a criminal case when it found there was no written law making it a crime to have sex with a dead human being. The prosecutor -- faced with behavior that is far more serious than some idiot having sex with a dead deer -- didn't try to argue it was a rape case. [CORRECTION: The prosecutor did try to argue that the case fit the sexual assault statute, which has specific language relating to a deceased victim: "This section applies whether a victim is dead or alive at the time of the sexual contact or sexual intercourse." The judge rejected this argument, it seems, because, as the defendant's attorney contended, the legislature included that language to prevent a murderer from escaping a rape charge by saying the death preceded the sexual act. The statute's use of the word "victim," rather than "corpse" supports this interpretation. The prosecutor's argument in the deer case, about how the deer remains a deer for some space of time after its death, seems similar to the idea the defense used in that earlier case. So what is the statutory language in the deer case? The crime charged is §944.17(2)(c), which is "an act of sexual gratification involving his or her sex organ and the sex organ, mouth or anus of an animal." This would exclude the "Portnoy's Complaint" sort of behavior -- masturbating with a slab of raw liver -- but it also makes it rather clear that the concern is not for the animal's welfare but about the perversion of the person engaging in the behavior of "gratifying" himself.]
Added observation: The expression "slippery slope" is grossing me out here. I'm thinking of the raw liver in "Portnoy's Complaint." (There's a search-inside-the-book function at the link, so go ahead and relive the excitement.)
UPDATE: The dead deer lover's conviction is upheld.