On Stolen Kidneys, & something lower down

In Unca Cecil’s classic column

We discuss modern kidney thieving.

But something analogous happened much, much earlier. Just a little more important to most men than their kidneys.

This link leads to a website that posts strange news articles from the 19th & early 20th Centuries. 1922, to be precise.

“Gland” is herein used as a euphemism for “male reproductive organ”.


Here’s what I don’t get:

If I am going to illegally steal someone’s kidneys, why bother sewing them back up? Why not let them die? Dead men tell no tales and it’s probably quicker and cheaper.

If you simply shoot the victim in the head, you can probably dig out the kidneys in a matter or minutes and put them on ice. That’s a lot quicker than knocking them out and doing a whole prolonged operation.

What is it? I have some major moral qualm of killing a person, but not from stealing their vital organs?

The problem in India is that the sale of organs is strictly legal. The complaints of stolen organs are hard to prove that they weren’t legal sales. Did these people sell their kidneys or were they stolen? I’m sure that the kidney procurer made sure all the paperwork was done in a tidy legal way and the local judge was given some incentives to agree.

However, this is not the type of urban legend where someone wakes up in a bathtub of ice with a note saying to get themself to a hospital because someone stole their kidneys.

This type of stuff happened in lynchings. The idea wasn’t theft as much as just castrating the victim. There were several cases of white mobs castrating black men. In the book Carry Me Home, Diane McWhorter mentions such a case. However, in this case, the two perps were actually convicted because their action was even too much for an all White male Alabama jury to stand.

You are correct that whites did all sorts of nasty things to blacks as part of lynching them. However, that does not appear to have any relation to the article that Bosda linked. Just reading the page presented in the link, one Joseph Wasniak was drugged and had a testicle removed. Harry Johnson was attacked and woke up to find his missing. These do not convey the picture of black men getting lynched, but rather white men being assaulted.

Notice how the police are canvassing surgeons’ offices. Why would they do that for lynchings? That kinda thing was pretty well understood, and even if the cops were trying to do something about it (which isn’t a given), they wouldn’t need to talk to surgeons to understand what was happening.

There was a brief mania concerning testicles in the 1920s. Goat implants for rich old men, etc.. This is the first I’ve heard of this sort of thing, but in the context of the time, it’s credible.

Link for the skeptical