Please do not ask blackmarket questions here. February 12, 2007 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Are users allowed to ask for advice on carrying out illegal activities, such as selling your organs on the black market?
posted by acoutu to Etiquette/Policy at 12:58 PM (63 comments total)

Show me a law against it!
posted by ND¢ at 1:06 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'd be more apt to agree with the premise of your question if it involved downloading music or video on the sly.
posted by Dave Faris at 1:07 PM on February 12, 2007

I don't know, it seems like a tongue-in-cheek question everyone's wondered about rather than a "zomg! help me smuggle coke into Canada using only my body cavity."
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:07 PM on February 12, 2007

posted by Stynxno at 1:09 PM on February 12, 2007

No, but a black market for illegal AskMe questions would be worth pursuing.
posted by ontic at 1:11 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Okay, my answer got cut. Now you can delete the question.
posted by ND¢ at 1:11 PM on February 12, 2007

ND: Here you go. It's Title III. (PDF, sorry).

I think the question is valid... I mean, it's not illegal everywhere.
posted by chickletworks at 1:11 PM on February 12, 2007

But it's clearly illegal where the questioner lives, or he wouldn't have asked about the black market.
posted by matthewr at 1:12 PM on February 12, 2007

If selling my organs is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Oh wait, yes I do. So very, very much.
posted by Arcaz Ino at 1:13 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

As Matthewr noted, the questioner did ask about the black market. That is why I included "black market" in my question about the question. I am not aware of legal black markets.
posted by acoutu at 1:17 PM on February 12, 2007

You know what organ I got removed today? My hair. I got a haircut at Great Clips today, and they are running a promotion that they are calling "The Great Haircut Sale" and that damn haircut only cost me $4.99. I left a $1.01 for a tip (it kind of looks like shit), for a total of $6.00 which equals a kickassedly cheap haircut. Now that is some organ removal that I can get behind. Should I post this to Metafilter?
posted by ND¢ at 1:18 PM on February 12, 2007

But it's clearly illegal where the questioner lives, or he wouldn't have asked about the black market.

Well, it could be that there's a federally regulated market where he lives that doesn't pay top dollar...

It's an odd question. Makes me think of that great big elective-amputation thread on the blue the other day. I suspect that it won't be taken seriously by a lot of answerers, and that ND¢'s joke (you cheeky so-and-so!) will resurface in some form or another.
posted by cortex at 1:18 PM on February 12, 2007

I was amused that my RSS feed had "How to sell a kidney on the black market" right next to "What is required for ethics consulting". Seems like the former should ask the later for advice....
posted by cschneid at 1:22 PM on February 12, 2007

No, but a black market for illegal AskMe questions would be worth pursuing.

Or a policy of Don't Ask, Don Ate.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:24 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

My impression has been that, no, there's not a blanket rule against AskMe questions about illegal activities. There's some commonsense involved in discriminating what would be acceptable and what wouldn't, as well as there being a large gray area where questions often get called out here in MeTa.

Where it is very likely to get Matt in a shitload of trouble, however, there's no ambiguity. Otherwise, my sense is that the more the community has a consensus that something is a serious crime, and the more serious the crime is thought to be, the less acceptable the question. If it's trivial, isn't likely to get Matt in trouble, and doesn't harm anyone else, the reaction is very liberal.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:25 PM on February 12, 2007

Skin's an organ, right? How long before the circumcisioneers get cranked up here?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:28 PM on February 12, 2007

I get e-mails like this occasionally from people wondering if my employer would be willing to purchase one of their organs. The standard line remains that it's not only unethicial, it's illegal in the US to buy live organs.

Once I got one from a woman wondering if we'd buy her husband's testes. I thought about writing back, "You do know that the donor has to approve of this, right? Not just the donor's wife?"
posted by dw at 1:29 PM on February 12, 2007

Although the answer was given in the askme thread already, an important distinction regarding questions about illegality is that selling organs isn't illegal everywhere. In Iran, it apparently is legal, and I think the mention of black markets was the just the asker being unaware that it would be legal somewhere.

So asker can go to iran if he is looking to sell his kidney.
posted by andoatnp at 1:34 PM on February 12, 2007

Selling your organs was one of the classic class discussions in the Law and Economics class I took back in the day. If I recall, there is a great section in Thomas Sowell's book Knowledge and Decisions about it. It's a really interesting economics of law topic with interesting articles on it. This could make a really good Metafilter post.

Thanks for letting me share.

On the issue of whether we should be giving advice on how to break the law, I would think that even non-lawyers can intuitively know that it is A Bad Idea. Aiding and abetting is not something I consider to be a wise use of my time. If someone posted, "I am considering robbing the Chase Bank on 34th and Grand. Anyone know the blueprints?", I suspect the impropriety of using AskMe for that would be plain to everyone.
posted by dios at 1:40 PM on February 12, 2007

Weird. For some reason surrogate parenthood and organ buying/selling seem similar to me, even though one is totally legal and lucrative and changes lives while the other is totally illegal.

Jessamyn deleted it as most of the answers were goofy at the start and it is a pretty much "help me break the law" question.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:48 PM on February 12, 2007

No, no they're not. How can I do blah blah blah on the black market questions are up to our discretion but questions like this (clearly illegal most places, clearly a "help me get around applicable laws" questions) aren't okay.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:48 PM on February 12, 2007

posted by The God Complex at 1:54 PM on February 12, 2007

This could make a really good Metafilter post.

Agreed. When you do it, make sure you discuss the Moore v. Regents... case and the implications of whether or not we own our own bodies' cells.
posted by norm at 1:55 PM on February 12, 2007

What if the poster was asking for help in getting his mother to donate her kidney via bittorrent to a non-RIAA band?
posted by mkultra at 1:55 PM on February 12, 2007

Or a policy of Don't Ask, Don Ate.

Don likes steak and kidney pie?


*runs and hides under the bed*
posted by found dog one eye at 1:56 PM on February 12, 2007

Racist. This would totally have stayed if the kidney were sold on the white market.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:10 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

No, that's for testicles. Kidneys go on the yellow market.
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:31 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

My penis can be rented, at surprisingly affordable by-the-minute rates.
posted by ninjew at 2:47 PM on February 12, 2007

A friend of mine is finishing up his PhD dissertation on kidney selling in Bangladesh. It's pretty scary stuff. The risks are not well communicated to people, and because it's illegal, they have no recourse if (frequently when) buyers fail to pay the agreed-upon price. The going rate is about $2000 (US, I think), but sellers rarely see the full amount, some see as little as $600. It often takes months to recover from surgery, and medical expenses are often not paid. Sellers often loose their jobs in order to sell the kidney, and then any money they actually get is absorbed in covering their unanticipated medical costs/recovery. In fact, although the surgeries (usually done in India) used older techniques with 8-12 inch incisions circling the torso, people were often turned out of the hospital and sent home on a 3rd class train ticket on the same day as the surgery.

Not that this really goes either way towards whether the question should have been deleted, but since that seems answered I, like dios, just wanted to share.
posted by carmen at 2:48 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

"My penis can be rented, at surprisingly affordable by-the-minute rates."

Until it goes condo(m).
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:10 PM on February 12, 2007

The asker probably would have been better off asking if it was legal to sell their organs and if so, how could they do so. Most of the answers would have been "it isn't legal" but some people would have provided answers for this deleted question.
posted by necessitas at 3:39 PM on February 12, 2007

Ok, now my overactive imagination is picturing a back alley "farmers" market with cases of lungs and kidneys. Nearby, there is a hotel full newly kidney and liver-less people chilling in ice-packed bathtubs.
posted by necessitas at 3:43 PM on February 12, 2007

he should have rephrased the question, something like "help me share my kidney on a P2P network". now that would totally fly here
posted by matteo at 4:08 PM on February 12, 2007

The usual rephrasing advice applies here. 'Help me sell my friend's kidney on the black market' would provoke some interesting responses.
posted by matthewr at 4:12 PM on February 12, 2007

Agent Howie stood on the balcony of his rented Andorran hotel room. His room, on the 18th floor, gave him a good view of the principality which the organisation he worked for, The Agency, would soon try to invade.

The wind blew heavily up on this level. It was here, on this balcony that Agent Howie would often come to think through the finer details of the operation he had heretofore been tasked with planning. And as the wind blew through his long, trussed hair, Howie pondered the latest event in his year long stint here in Andorra. Operative R had contacted him only minutes earlier via a secret coded message he had seen on Project Metafilter. He had been recalled back to America.

Operative R had told Howie in no uncertain terms that he was to come back to the United States without delay. When queried, he would offer no other explanation beyond "you've been deep undercover now for too long." They were pulling How out, replacing him with some clean skin who had probably only had one undercover operation before this. Howie couldn't fathom the Agency's thinking. This was probably the most critical time in the entire operation. How could not help but think that any change to the plan now would be little less than a catastrophe.

His anger swelled up inside his stomach like an errant locomotive. But Howie was a changed man. In many ways his time in Andorra had been good to him. Whereas before his posting here he would have screamed in anger or pulled out his sniper rifle to take a few well aimed shots at the locals, now he managed to control his anger. Scotch helped, and the glass sitting next to him, on the rocks of course, was doing just that. Howie reached for it, took a sip, and looked into the swirling mass of brown liquid in his glass. The wind still screaming past him, Howie shook the glass gently, the ice cubes tingling up against the fine glass that held them.

Howie started to ponder why he had been recalled. He mulled over his actions during the course of the campaign. Sure, he'd helped people sell their kidneys on the black market every now and then to help finance his actions. And yes, perhaps every now and then he had helped people smuggle coke into Canada in their only body cavity for much the same reason. But they were minor indiscretions compared to the good he had achieved. He had killed the head of the Andorran intelligence service, the man who stood between the Agency's ambitions in the principality and who had also been responsible for the death of Agent Babyguru. And he had dispatched the Librarian to the great beyond, a woman whose interference in Howie's plans could have proven disastrous down the road. It seemed incomprehensible that they would recall him now.

But Howie was nothing if not a man who followed orders. If Operative R wanted him to come back to the States, then that's what he was going to do.

How got up, surveyed the cityscape and took a deep breath. The sky above Andorra la Vella was clear and deep blue. The wind continued to swirl around him as he turned his back on the city that had been his home now for just over 12 months and re-entered his apartment, now bare save for a single suitcase sitting alone on the floor.

"Well" said Howie after downing the last bit of scotch left in his glass. "I've seen blue skies through the tears. And whatever else, I realise now... I'm going home."
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:13 PM on February 12, 2007 [5 favorites]

I'm writing a book about urban legends, and was curious: even if someone did steal your kidney, how would they go about selling it? Is the black market for organs real, and if so, does anyone have any information on how I might go about contacting them for (obviously anonymous) verification? How much would a healthy kidney go for, anyway? What's your address? Do you have a bathtub?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:15 PM on February 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Can stars be taken away?
posted by matthewr at 4:20 PM on February 12, 2007

Look, you silly son of a bitch, a locomotive can hardly swell up. Errant or otherwise. Rewrite.
posted by cortex at 4:23 PM on February 12, 2007

matthewr is obviously unfamiliar with the works of Arthur C. Clarke.
posted by cgc373 at 4:23 PM on February 12, 2007

Can stars be taken away?

With sufficient application of saliva to the offending forehead, yes.
posted by cortex at 4:23 PM on February 12, 2007

posted by cgc373 at 4:24 PM on February 12, 2007

It was supposed to be a throwaway Arthur C. Clarke joke, and now look at me. A laughingstock.
posted by cgc373 at 4:25 PM on February 12, 2007

1. Sell kidney in Iran
2. Return to country of citizenship and obtain free donor kidney*
3. Return to Iran to sell donated kidney
4. Rinse (thoroughly, with disenfectant) and repeat.

* Assuming that one lives in a modern, civilised country where health care is considered a necessity of life and provided FOC to residents.
posted by dg at 4:28 PM on February 12, 2007

My penis can be rented, at surprisingly affordable by-the-minute rates
You aren't going to make much money renting it out for two minutes at a time.
posted by dg at 4:31 PM on February 12, 2007

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun

posted by matthewr at 4:33 PM on February 12, 2007

cgc373, it's a self-correcting system (and now corrected). If you hadn't gotten all blubbery about it, no one would have noticed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:41 PM on February 12, 2007

"… said Dr. Wagner, with what he hoped was commendable restraint"

How can anyone read this stuff?

posted by matthewr at 4:44 PM on February 12, 2007

About a month ago I watched a documentary about the legal kidney market in Iran. It was fascinating and heartbreakingly tragic. One of the people in the doc was struggling to feed his family - he figured that if he sold a kidney, he could put a down payment on a taxi-cab and make it out of abject poverty.

IIRC he got about 2000 Iranian pounds for it. After recovering from the operation (no cakewalk) he got his cab, but tragically crashed it a month or so later and couldn't replace it. . . And he didn't even have a kidney to sell anymore.
posted by isopraxis at 5:01 PM on February 12, 2007

Documentary From the Beeb
posted by isopraxis at 5:03 PM on February 12, 2007

*reads jessamyn's rebuke*

*muses on MeFi/MeTa's self-correcting qualities*

posted by cgc373 at 5:06 PM on February 12, 2007

More coherently, though; thanks, jessamyn. I should have realized such a minor error would not really break anything. The real breaks get MeTa'd on their own. For the record, though, what didn't I or did I do that caused the weirdness? Did I fail to close a tag?
posted by cgc373 at 5:08 PM on February 12, 2007

You had an a href=http:// with a missing start quote, I believe.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:22 PM on February 12, 2007

We shouldn't have an outright ban on questions dealing with illegal activities. If nothing else it's hard to discuss how to setup security if you don't talk about how to defeat security.
posted by Mitheral at 5:41 PM on February 12, 2007

You aren't going to make much money renting it out for two minutes at a time.

It's all about the refractory period. I offer bulk and group rates as well. The margin is better.
posted by ninjew at 6:41 PM on February 12, 2007

Hey acoutu, let me guess: you needed attention so you ran to tattle in public.
posted by davy at 7:31 PM on February 12, 2007

I lost a good friend to this sort of shit. Nice fellow, solid oak coffee table. He went looking for a replacement leg after an incident with a couple of teething puppies. The guy he met claimed to be an artist, a cabinet maker of great skill. But he was a fucking butcher, that’s what he was. My friend came back with damage to three of his good legs and that fourth leg wasn't even replaced with oak. The meatbag used white pine. That shit isn't strong enough for a damn nightstand to support itself. We tried to find the guy; I was damn sure going to give him a few splinters. But he was long gone.

And don't get me started on the time I went to the warehouses trying to find some of the old sassafras furniture polish. I know they said sassafras contains a carcinogen, but what the fuck is that going to do to a table? Give me grain cancer? Lemon Pledge gets old after a while, ya know? And it does okay on giving you a shine, but it feels so artificial and weak. Most of the shit they sell these days is like Coke without the coke. What's the point? Oooooh, I smell like lemons. Okay, so I enjoy that sometimes. But I miss the old days when a table could smell like real wood and not a freaking flower garden or fruit basket. Sometimes I wish I had been made into a workshop bench or something. Oh well. Just trust me, stay away from the black market. Nothing but trouble.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 7:31 PM on February 12, 2007 [4 favorites]

Tell me about it, weretable and the undead chairs. I once paid a black market architect more than I care to admit to fashion me into a lanai in Hawai'i and woke up from the anesthesia to find I was a North Woods dogtrot.
posted by breezeway at 7:57 PM on February 12, 2007

The standard line remains that it's not only unethicial, it's illegal in the US to buy live organs.

There's a pretty good article in this month's Reason about whether organ sales are actually unethical or not. Short version: everyone is making money except the donor.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:49 AM on February 13, 2007

So I give it to them and They sell it =(ethical and good)

I Sell it to them and they sell it =(unethical and bad)

Why isn't that total BS?
posted by Megafly at 12:01 PM on February 13, 2007

Megafly: without taking a position on the topic, I might offer to you what my understand of the "its bad" argument is. As I understand it, the macro point is that an organ market is a good thing because it will help people who need organs. The most efficient way to match donors to donees is to have entities that manage the transactions, and those entities will act under the general economic assumptions of a market with respect to efficiencies and pricing. But while most will concede it is good for the donees, there are people who do not want to allow individuals to sell their organs because we do not want to encourage them to sell their organs. As I understand it, the argument is that by allowing people to profit from their organs, it incentivizes the act and might encourage desperate people to make unhealthy and unwise mistakes. We don't want people to sell a kidney to get money to buy a new TV or some crack or whatever. We don't want to encourage people who are desperate to do it. The response to that concern might be to allow people to prospectively sell their organs with the money entering the estate for their heirs. But those opposed to the issue come back to other concerns: we don't want end of life issues decided by people who can profit off of harvesting organs. (E.g., "Yeah, there is a chance Gramps will make a comeback, but if we pull the plug now, we can make $75k off of this guy in NJ!!").

So, the argument against it is that we don't want to make economic incentives for people to make important life-changing decisions. That's my understand, at least.
posted by dios at 12:38 PM on February 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I wish someone would sell me some new fingers that can type properly.
posted by dios at 12:40 PM on February 13, 2007

Even if it's improperly typed, that summary makes a lot of sense. Thanks, dios.
posted by cgc373 at 12:52 PM on February 13, 2007

Also: This could theoretically open up a black market. Larry Niven explored this in detail, envisioning gangs of kidnappers who essentially harvested their victims for profit. With an entire industry blooming around such a practice, accountability would be difficult to maintain. To top that off, where do you think most of these organs would come from? Mostly third world countries who wouldn't be able to/or care about the origins of such a profitable product.
posted by IronLizard at 8:58 PM on February 13, 2007

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