Personally, the thing that really offends me about Witkin is the fact that he exploited a group of people to his own ends.
The bodies he snatched were, according to him, those that had not been claimed by relatives. Therefore he concluded that they were "unwanted" and he could do as he pleased.
In other words, if nobody claims your body, nobody would mind if it was abused a bit.
The amount of insensitivity this shows is appalling.
First off, the bodies were mostly taken from large city morgues. Mexico is a very poor nation. As a result many people travel to find work. It is not unusual for someone from say Chiapas to travel all the way to Sonora looking for work. Many times they will cross the border into the U.S. Where I live this is a daily reality. Every summer the desert claims dozens of immigrant lives here.
Now, if you die while traveling, chances are your family may never know what happened to you. Unless you can be ID'd effectively, they will have no idea of what happened. I am sure there are many families in Mexico who have no idea what happened to their relatives who went "norte" to look for work and never returned. It happens in the U.S. too. Morgues get the usual flow of "Does". Many are never identified. In a poor nation IDing a body is even harder.
That does not mean these people are simply "disposable" though as Witkin thinks they are. How many of his "subjects" had families who wondered what happened to them? Witkin seems to think none did because the bodies were never claimed. A convient assumption for him.
Add to that a total ignorance and lack of respect for local attitudes towards death and you have a heinous crime.
I'm sure Jorge can provide more illumination into this, but living near Mexico, I have become aware of Mexican attitudes towards death, They appear to be pretty different in some ways from the attitudes we see in the U.S. I have no idea of what taboos and traditions exist in Mexico regarding dead bodies specifically, but I am pretty damn sure the "do what you want with the body" attitude is not prevelant! Especially when you see families making pilgimages to the grave sites of their relatives for Dios de Muertes. The amount of cultural insensitivity exhibited by Witkin is extreme. It borders on imperialism. "Well, I am an American, so I can just buy bodies down in Mexico. No harm done."
Then, when someone buys these works, they end up reinforcing and rewarding this behavior. Why would Witkin stop when he can command thousands of dollars per image? If you reward a dog for biting the mailman, he won't stop. Same principle here. I find it disgusting that Witkin has in any way been rewarded for his ghoulish acts.