Archive for the ‘Execution’ Category

“I swear I can change!”

A phrase common to films, and no doubt in real life. Whether it be by your spouse, yourself or maybe even to a teacher or boss.

Does anyone trust the words? Often not, but isn’t everyone deserving of a second chance?

I view Humanity as an incredibly versatile race. Opinions can be changed, situations can be rectified and hate can turn to love, even in times of war. Take the Italians: all change there.

So by whose judgement is someone beyond change?

During the middle-ages in Britain, tolerance was always very low. Even for first time offenders, the range of punishment to crime was very severe. For stealing as little as a shilling, or goods over that amount, the culprit might well suffer punishment of death. For the lesser crime of stealing under the amount of a shilling, the culprit may merely be bereft of their ears or hands. And this is just for theft.

Vagrancy was another crime: anyone found to be homeless, poor, or unemployed was considered lazy, and a criminal. From the 16th century, vagabonds were whipped and facially mutilated with a ‘V’ branded on their face. Repeat offences would result in death.

Capital punishment was issued for a number of crimes, including highway robbery, theft, murder, arson and forgery. Uncommon to modern-day British courts, prosecution was always favoured during the middle-ages. The likelihood of false conviction was fairly high in some instances. The injustice of an incorrect life-ending conviction is a horrible thought but, even today, in America it happens and in the Eastern world it is commonplace, especially for women.

Muslim woman stoned to death.

The job of a torturer was an intricate art in those days. For those who were unfortunate enough to suffer the penalty of death, the torturer’s job would be to prolong life for as long as possible whilst employing agonising pain to the victim. There were many methods which they used, each as gruesome as the last.

To name but a few, firstly I’ll illustrate stoning (as seen above). The victim would have their hands tied behind their back, be wrapped in a blanket and buried up to their shoulders if male, and slightly below as a female. The executioners would draw a circle around the victim and proceed to throw medium-sized stones at them until either death or the victim’s impossible escape past the line drawn. Importantly, the stone couldn’t be large enough to kill the victim outright or so small as not to inflict pain, ensuring the victim suffered excruciating agony in the closing moments of their life. This ancient penalty is still practiced today in many eastern countries, often as a result of false convictions against raped women charged with adultery.

Next would be beheading: a practice very common in the execution of nobleman, Kings, and women. Unfortunately for the victims, it never usually worked out in the way of films and cartoons. Often a blunt blade would take several swings to part head from its body. The rich often paid for their own executioner to avoid this, and employed them to use a sharpened sword. Again, this practice is still used in horrific circumstances in the modern-day world. Splashed across the newspapers in recent times, we’ve seen to our dismay the use of beheading as a political tool. Innocent men such as Eugene Armstrong, beheaded in an attempt to destabilise the British and American occupancy of Iraq, to name but one of many, many instances.

Perhaps the most gruesome death of them all has to be the punishment for high treason. That is, to be drawn and quartered. A victim would initially be hung until close to death. This was to be followed by the victim being stretched. Then if the victim is particularly lucky, they would be beheaded. If not, they were cut open alive, and suffered the unimaginable pain of having their entrails burnt in front of them before the beheading. After death, the body would be quartered and displayed around the city or, in extreme cases, around the country as a deterrent to others.

This was common in the middle-ages. After death, bodies were usually left to rot and decay in the street to deter others.

Now the common theme with all these deterrents is that none of them worked. Crime did not lessen, even with the barbaric nature of the punishments. And make no mistake, execution in any form is barbaric.

To think of all the improvements in society since the 14th century, why has it taken so long to realise execution is not the answer. In Britain, a shocking fact to me, the last execution by hanging was as recently as 46 years ago in 1964. I’m surprised it took so long for Health and Safety to catch up.

If it took so long for us, how long will it take the Eastern world to realise the same thing and to stop setting laws based on age-old religious texts and the will of bigoted village elders. Examples should be set from the West of successful modern-day society.

And surely a big question we all have to ask ourselves is how long will it take America to join the civilized? Publicly passing electricity through a person, and drowning a person inside their own body, mix that with the torture of spending years on death row. It’s simply shocking that a Western country still lives in the dark-ages. A country that should be setting an example to the world, as frontrunners in the evolution of the human race.

No matter the nature of the crime, killing someone as a punishment is never the answer. Violence breeds violence, and no single judge or jury should have the right to kill.

“I swear I can change!”

Well maybe we can’t, but we all deserve the chance to.