Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Sid Salter: New Washington Law Thinking Outside the Box... or Urn

Our pop culture in this country has made mincemeat out of the phrase “thinking outside the box” and rendered the phrase trite and meaningless. That is, until lawmakers in the State of Washington recently enacted legislation that reflected thinking that is literally “outside the box” or at the very least the coffin or the urn.

In America, the usual choices for those contemplating the appropriate disposition of human remains has been either interment (burial in the ground) or immurement (entombment above ground in a crypt or mausoleum) or cremation followed by collection and storage of ashes in a receptacle or urn. Some scatter the ashes in various venues depending on local laws.

Historically, many Native American cultures disposed of bodies through exposure to the elements and to scavenger animals. The ancient Egyptians practiced mummification. There are a number of other methods with varying degrees of popularity and legality.

The funereal phase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” covers a wide range of philosophical and religious thought related to death and what happens afterwards.

In Genesis 3:19, the Bible promises: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

By 1662, the Book of Common Prayer offered the following burial service text: “Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God of His great mercy to take unto Himself the soul of our dear brother here departed, we therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be like unto His glorious body, according to the mighty working, whereby He is able to subdue all things to Himself.”

And from my generation, who can forget David Bowie’s provocative 1980 song “Ashes to Ashes” from the album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) that served up these lyrics: “Ashes to ashes, funk to funky, We know Major Tom's a junkie, Strung out in heaven's high, Hitting an all-time low, My mother said to get things done, You'd better not mess with Major Tom.”

Monty Python’s Flying Circus catchphrase is at this point relevant: “And Now for Something Completely Different.” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on May 21 signed into law a measure passed by the Washington Legislature that would allow human remains to be composted.

Specifically, the law authorizes the practice of recomposition or human composting to turn the remains into soil or a form of fertilizer. The new law will take effect in May of 2020.

The law permits a process of “natural organic reduction,” defined as “the contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil.” The process uses a mixture of wood chips, alfalfa, and straw in a rotating vessel to speed up natural decomposition – and when this is all complete, the family can take the soil and spread it as they would ashes after cremation.

The bill was the brainchild of Washington State Sen. Jamie Pederson, a native of Puyallup, Washington. In February, Pederson told CNN: “It's about time we apply some technology, allow some technology, to be applied to this universal human experience both because we think that people should have the freedom to determine for themselves how they'd like their body to be disposed of and also because we have learned over time that there are some more environmentally friendly and safe ways of disposing of human remains."

Current Mississippi law allows for interment, immurement, and cremation and no Mississippi lawmaker has introduced a bill seeking to legalize recomposition.

That could change. One Washingtonian who supported the new law told KIRO-TV that she told her brother about the law and he replied: “Oh great, you can plant tomatoes in me.”

And we all know how crazy Mississippians can get during tomato sandwich season – even to the point of thinking (gulp!) outside the box.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Rod Knox said...

Considering the current popularity of Wall St investments maybe Soylent Green will become a great IPO. I'll be watching for Cramer to advise me.

Louis LeFleur said...

Believe it or not, Rod, there is actually a Soylent company out there now. They say on their website, "Our founders named the product Soylent, in homage to the novel Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison. It’s a dystopian sci-fi novel that explores population growth and world resources." Make Room was the book on which the 1973 Soylent Green movie was based. Creeps me out!

Anonymous said...

It certainly is becoming a "Brave New World."

Rod Knox said...

If things continue on the current path my kids can cash me in for a bon fire and a couple of weeks in the Caribbean where they can toss my ashes into a reef. That's a more appealing thought to me than being under a polished rock when soon no one would know who I was and the grounds keepers would curse every time they had to run a weed-eater around that rock.

And while Soylent Green was an entertaining dystopian view of the possible future the decades ahead may see some even uglier situations.... but then maybe not. I hope not. I'll check out "Make Room" Louis LeFleur.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS