Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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100 lashes on the paint job

Correctional wisdom of the British Empire
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In the 19th century, humiliation had a name - the cat o' nine tails. (If you don't know what it looks like, see the link.)

Mutinous sailors in the Royal Navy, hapless convicts in the Australian penal colonies, slaves, and other unfortunates felt its bite. The subject would be tied to "the triangle," an upright wooden frame, and given anywhere from 10 to 500 lashes from the cat by a professional flogger, depending on the infraction. Typically, a crowd of the subject's peers would be assembled to bear witness, "pour encourager les autres." Afterward, the subject's only medical treatment would be a bucket of brine splashed on the back.

I think most of us would agree that the cat o' nine tails is a barbaric device when used in this way, but I see no reason to forget about its symbolic value - the rich cultural heritage of humiliation and degradation that it offers us, at least those of us who live in Commonwealth countries.

I propose that when a criminal act centres around the use of an important tool or personal possession (e.g. you ran a bunch of red lights in your muscle car; you used your computer to hack the school server and change your phys ed grade; you blasted your stereo every night for a month and disturbed your neighbours; you ran over a family of endangered otters with your jet-ski), the cat o' nine tails be applied, publicly and generously, to that object as one component of your sentence.

This would require a special reinforced cat o' nine tails designed to damage objects made of metal, plastic, and wood rather than a human body.

So, take the stereo blasting example. The case goes to court, the verdict is guilty, and the judge calls in a flogger (toothless, burly, wild-eyed, and dressed in an early 19th-century British army uniform complete with red coat) to deliver 100 lashes to the stereo equipment on the lawn in front of the apartment building as all the other tenants look on.

The point is, the cat o' nine tails is a powerful cultural symbol of humiliation, in addition to its basic destructive qualities. The stereo blaster guy would not simply have a mangled stereo as punishment, but also the deep shame of the flogging itself.

I like this sentencing idea particularly for crimes involving cars, because people *love* their cars, invest a lot of time in them, involve them in personal identity, feel pride about them, and of course, use them in a public way. People in your community would see your flogged car, comment on it, remember it, and judge you. There would be a powerful social deterrent at work here.

I see the cat o' nine tails more as a punishment for unthinking jackasses than for arch-criminals or people who commit crimes in the heat of the moment. It's the serial jackass who truly needs to be humiliated in front of people and made to understand that bad children have their toys taken away. Or at least flogged.

I have included an illustration of my own devising. Please see link.

earl, Jul 05 2002

(?) cat o' nine tails http://www.mesa.k12...us/pirates/cat.html
One of the sailor guys has a cat o' nine tails in his hand. [earl, Jul 05 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

(??) another one http://www.nmm.ac.u...s/fact_agesail.html
Arr, t'was a cruel punishment, but not as cruel as keel-hauling [earl, Jul 05 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

(??) illustration http://www.geocitie...pawtucket/earl.html
[earl, Jul 05 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

half-baked by Basil Fawlty http://news.bbc.co....d_480000/480720.stm
[po, Jul 06 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

[link]






       Just flog the perpetrator and be done with it.
DrCurry, Jul 05 2002
  

       50 lashes with a wet croissant...   

       On the other hand, I live in a culture that has already pre-humiliated itself, so I'm uncertain as to the total effectiveness...
RayfordSteele, Jul 05 2002
  

       Certain to anger the Japanese: "Oh … our car, beaten for petulant owner! Just slap me!"   

       Croissant
reensure, Jul 05 2002
  

       see link.
po, Jul 06 2002
  

       po, I wish you had been with me a few years ago outside Melbourne University (Aust) when a guy abt 35 found his car had a parking ticket..and did a COMPLETE BASIL, beating it with a rolled up newspaper! he wasn't trying to be funy, he was just out of control. Thank god for our strict gun laws, or he would have shot it for sure.
pfperry, Jul 07 2002
  

       I'd have snot it.
reensure, Jul 07 2002
  

       In case anyone is puzzled, the car in the illustration is a convertible.
earl, Jul 08 2002
  

       The car looks that way because it has been mercilessly flogged. Its owner is a repeat offender.
earl, Jul 09 2002
  

       What if the vehicle is a POS to start with? What good will the thrashing do?   

       Try public stoning, more damage and crowd participation.
dag, Jul 09 2002
  

       I'm not sure a flogging would necessarily be a humiliation/punnishment... I know a lot of S & M types who would really enjoy a good flogging... in fact they do it at the bar on fetish night. The line for flogging gets pretty long...
Aurora, Jul 10 2002
  

       a croisant for the idea, a fish for the sketch. Skipped your art classes eh?
ricedo, Jan 13 2004
  

       Public humiliation should be brought back. A large warm bun for you sir.
Voice, Oct 10 2007
  
      
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