Is it a crime for you to turn someone into a zombie?
“…I stumbled onto… “Doc of the Dead” (2014), a film about modern zombie culture and the zombie genre. The film brings up the 1883 Haitian Criminal Code, and claims that people being turned into zombies was a real problem in Haiti, as evidenced by a statute which outlaws making zombies…”
To verify this claim, Guha turned to Boring, as an expert in the law of French-speaking jurisdictions. Nicolas’ answer indicates the importance of knowing a country’s culture and language to interpreting its law.
One must look at the original meaning of the term “zombie,” which is actually slightly different from the flesh-eating reanimated corpses that we see in modern horror fiction. The word is derived from the Haitian creole “zonbi.” According to Dr. Yves Saint-Gérard, author of Le Phénomène Zombi (The Zombie Phenomenon), this term designates a “living-dead,” or, figuratively, a person devoid of any will or character. According to traditional Haitian beliefs, a person might be “zombified” by a bokor (the Voodoo equivalent of a sorcerer). Through the use of dark magic, the bokor brings the victim into a state of near-death or deep coma. The victim’s family and community bury him/her, thinking that he/she is dead. But the bokor subsequently digs up and revives the victim as a zombie: a state under which he/she is devoid of free will and does whatever the bokor tells him/her to do.
It is unclear how a bokor induces his victim’s near-death state, but it appears to be through the use of potions. One theory is that zombification results from the ingestion of tetradotoxin, a chemical extracted from puffer fish (Dr. Saint- Gérard attributes this theory to American botanist Wade Davis). In any case, it seems that zombification comes from ingesting, as stated by article 246 of the Haitian Criminal Code, “substances which, without giving death, will cause a more-or-less prolonged state of lethargy.”