Home | Contents | Photos | News | Reviews | Store | Forum | ICI | Educators | Fans | Contests | Help | FAQ | Info

Were the Aztecs Murdering "Animals"?

A response to Were the Aztecs Murdering "Animals"? We begin with Erik Mattila's reply to the original poster and to me:

>> One of the Aztec priests, who lasted through 5 kings, MURDERED 40,000 people (sacrifice) in ONE WEEKEND. <<

>> Would anyone like to respond to this? The first thought that crossed my mind is, wow, I didn't know the Aztecs had weekends. <<

Sure, that's 13.888 victims a minute. Or to put it differently, it took 3.2 seconds per victim. But let's say that it was an industry, and the evil priest has a team of one hundred assistants. Well, two to hold the victim, and one to cut out his heart. So that's 33.33 teams doing the work. That means they would have to do 463 whole victims per minute to reach the goal of 40 grand in a weekend.

Then there's the question of what an Aztec weekend was? Given their 13 day weeks, how many days is a weekend? I don't know. Did priests take time-off during the weekend? Hmmm.

OK, I'll go read your response.

Well, it was ok, but commits the formal fallacy 'tu coque' -- "since you did it too, it's ok." A weak argument. I think the number's argument speaks louder -- math has a kind of neutral space -- it almost seems 'factual.' What about logistics? How much space does 40,000 need -- are they all standing up while waiting their turn, sitting down -- what. If the team theory is correct, then there would have to be 33 or 34 places that would allow for the space needed for the two holder-downers, the cutter, and the cuttee. Let's say 8 square feet would do it. Times 33 that's 264 square feet if the sacrificial altars are packed tight, and the crews work back to back. But you have to get 463 souls in and out of there every minute, so you have traffic problems. So you would have to add at least 4' aisles for this logistic problem, and the 8 foot square area then becomes a 12 foot area, totaling a tad under 400 square feed (a 20 x 20 foot area). Since the three-man sacrifice crews had their hands filled with removing the hearts out of 13.888 victims per minute, there would have to be additional crews who would escort the victims into the work area, and another to carry the body's out of the work area.

Anyway, it seems like a pretty absurd scenario to me.

Erik Mattila

Rob's reply to Erik
Excellent analysis, Erik!

But you must mean the person I was arguing against had a weak argument. He argued for the interpretation of Aztecs as murderers. I argued against it.

I offered several arguments against his claim, not just one. One counterargument was that the 40,000 killed seemed unlikely, which is why I asked for supporting evidence. None was forthcoming.

If you did mean to critique my argument, you committed the informal fallacy of missing the forest for the trees. Look again. The title of this message was "Were the Aztecs murdering scum?" Not "Did the Aztecs practice human sacrifice?" or "Did the Aztecs sacrifice 40,000 people in one weekend?"

IOW, the debate was on the morality of whether one could rightly label the Aztecs "murdering scum." Discussing the moral equivalence of the European invaders was precisely on point. If the Europeans were "murdering scum" then and we're "murdering scum" now (capital punishment, Bosnian air strikes, abortion, letting people die of disease and hunger, etc.), the phrase "murdering scum" has no meaning. It applies to everyone or no one.

You addressed one tiny part of the argument by analyzing the 40,000 number. I did the same thing by merely questioning it and asking for evidence. Far from being "weak," my arguments covered the range of moral issues inherent in the question. They went well beyond your limited numerical analysis.

Sorry about that, friend. At least our positions concur, albeit for different reasons.


* More opinions *
  Join our Native/pop culture blog and comment
  Sign up to receive our FREE newsletter via e-mail
  See the latest Native American stereotypes in the media
  Political and social developments ripped from the headlines

. . .

Home | Contents | Photos | News | Reviews | Store | Forum | ICI | Educators | Fans | Contests | Help | FAQ | Info

All material © copyright its original owners, except where noted.
Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

Copyrighted material is posted under the Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act,
which allows copying for nonprofit educational uses including criticism and commentary.

Comments sent to the publisher become the property of Blue Corn Comics
and may be used in other postings without permission.