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Guillotine London

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

The crowds gathered around a beheading differed greatly on the person being beheaded and the nature of the crime. However, each crowd was needed to make an example out of the condemned and his unlawful acts. The crowd would often cheer on the last spiteful words of a man who had nothing left to loose, often cursing the government, the laws and/or officials. The crowd also decided how good of a job each executioner did, if he caused excessive pain or if he couldn't kill instantaneously. The executioners were either fined or imprisoned as a result of the crowds findings.

The Revolution made each trip to the scaffold a theatrical ritual, so much so that the guillotine had to be moved from St. Jacques square to the palace de la National and the open cart was eventually replaced by a closed carriage. In 1939 the morality behind the guillotine had became lost while the scaffolds were in full public view, so finally the guillotine was placed behind prison walls and made inaccessible to the public. By 1972, when the last execution by guillotine was preformed, the precautions surrounding public execution had become so great that even witnesses who described the beheadings could be subjected to prosecution. The emphasis on secrecy helps to draw the conclusion, that fundamentally capital punishment is a spectacle and using it in the same sentence as humane is hard to digest.Jean-Baptiste Carrier was a very unpleasant man. And on the 16th November 1794, this actual blade swiftly removed his head. In the wake of the French Revolution, Carrier had become a cruel and sadistic leader whose murderous actions were extreme even for those violent times. But eventually, he too stepped out of line and was himself sentenced to death. But, as he faced his end, why should he have had some small reason to thank a French doctor who had very different views on the nature of life and death? If you were condemned to execution by decapitation prior to 1792, you were probably in for a messy business. A sword was normally used, but if the executioner was inexperienced or the blade blunt, your head was unlikely to come off cleanly. An agonising death was guaranteed. But just two years before Carrier’s demise, doctor Joseph Ignace Guillotin advocated a ‘humane alternative’ – a never failing execution machine. Designed by fellow doctor Antoine Louis it became known as the “Guillotine” and it carried blades like this one. Guillotine had wanted to make the process short and painless, and the Guillotine was indeed incredibly efficient. But the device ensured that executions became even greater public spectacles. Ironically, Guillotin was against the death penalty and had hoped his machine would be a step along the road to abolition. So, do you think Guillotin would have been appalled at the reality of his ‘humane project’? Besides, can killing another human being ever be considered ‘humane’ or even ethical in the first place? And should doctors ever be involved in capital punishment? By the way, the guillotine was last used in France in 1977 and was not officially retired until the abolition of the death penalty there in 1981.


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