Despite the concerns voiced by hundreds of citizens, it appears that the exhumation of the Leather Man’s remains, including the taking of “anatomical gifts” from him for DNA and forensic testing, will move forward as planned very soon. It could be any day now. Here, in very simple terms, is my position:
I believe that the Leather Man’s DNA is his property, and he went to unimaginable lengths to guard his identity during his life. Curious strangers should not be allowed to take co-ownership of it 122 years later, just because he’s dead, and they can.
The forensic analysis will result in the destruction of a small amount of organic material from his remains in order to “expand the historical record”. It is described as “minimally invasive”. These are purely procedural terms. In taking DNA from the Old Leather Man, the term “minimally invasive” is an oxymoron. If there is one place left in the world where you should be allowed to keep some secrets, it’s within your own bones. Once performed, this action cannot be undone, so the time is now to voice your concerns directly to those involved. I urge you to please take a minute to vote in the current poll to the right, but then even more importantly, pick up the phone, write them, email them, or maybe even try to speak to them face to face. (Click here for contact information) Let them know that addressing public safety issues, and erecting a new memorial are appropriate ways to accomplish their goals, but if they are intent on solving the mystery, or trying to unravel his identity, they should respect his legacy as a private individual and, “MAP HIS FOOTPRINTS, NOT HIS DNA!”