People vs. Fido
September 10, 2012 1:41 PM   Subscribe

A bull burned at the stake, a swarm of locusts excommunicated—animal trials were once surprisingly common.
posted by Chrysostom (27 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
they continue to this day
posted by exogenous at 1:50 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


that isnt really the same thing
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:53 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, what we have now is more of a Judge Dredd thing. No trial, just sentence and execution thereof.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:57 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


and his dorsal fin, rather than standing straight up like a shark’s, droops to one side under its own weight

Uh, that's because he's in captivity and hence not particularly healthy, not because he's an orca.
posted by Zarkonnen at 1:57 PM on September 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a whole chapter about a trial to excommunicate a colony of woodworm in Julian Barnes' A History of the World in 10&1/2 Chapters. It took me forever to realize that woodworm=termites, more or less.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:59 PM on September 10, 2012


(Jesus’ anger at inanimate objects wasn’t unique. Ancient civilizations like Greece and China would “execute” guilty items like killers’ knives or fallen statues.)

This happens from time to time; I recall reading about an Australian court ordering the destruction of a mobile phone used in a crime. And some would argue that civil forfeiture as practiced in the War On Drugs in the US is only legally coherent when considered to be the punishment of property.
posted by acb at 2:04 PM on September 10, 2012


r.i.p. topsy.
posted by crunchland at 2:07 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


“If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten,” reads Exodus 21:28.

That'll teach the bastard!
posted by Splunge at 2:09 PM on September 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


One of my favorite examples is this is that of Gifford Pinchot's sentencing of Pep, the "Cat-murdering" dog (who allegedly killed his wife's cat) to life without parole at Eastern State Penitentiary. Bad Dog!
posted by Toekneesan at 2:13 PM on September 10, 2012


Worth noting Pep didn't actually get a trial. Gifford used an executive order.
posted by Toekneesan at 2:17 PM on September 10, 2012


I can't believe they went through the entire article without mentioning the legend of the town in the north-east of England, Hartlepool, that hanged a monkey after convicting it of being a French spy.

Which led to denizens of the town being called monkey hangers.
posted by randomination at 2:27 PM on September 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of course the article mentions Murderous Mary. God, I wish I could unsee the picture.
posted by peripathetic at 2:49 PM on September 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Remember that time Edison electrocuted an elephant? Execution.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:56 PM on September 10, 2012


There was a movie in which Colin Firth played a medieval lawyer who had to represent a pig which had been accused of murder. The film used a few of the cases mentioned this article. It's been uploaded to YouTube:

The Hour of the Pig
posted by homunculus at 3:30 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Splunge: "“If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten,” reads Exodus 21:28.

That'll teach the bastard
"

The part about not eating the flesh is obviously bullshit, but killing a bull that's aggressive isn't that bad an idea, it's basically selective breeding, keeping the most aggressive genes out of the breeding stock.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:43 PM on September 10, 2012


Vengeful bull’s deadly pursuit
posted by homunculus at 3:54 PM on September 10, 2012


Poor varmints....
posted by magstheaxe at 3:59 PM on September 10, 2012


I'm not big on tattoos of text, but if I was going to get one, I'd be really tempted to go with "a swarm of locusts excommunicated" some place cool.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:42 PM on September 10, 2012


Cats should be put on trial. All of them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:33 PM on September 10, 2012


Cats should be put on trial. All of them.

When kitties are too cute they should be put on trial in The Court of Cuteness.
posted by ovvl at 8:43 PM on September 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems we are slowly becoming more compassionate over the centuries but still humans are the most dangerous, the most destructive and the most violent predators ever to roam the earth.
posted by chance at 8:50 PM on September 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


...but still humans are the most dangerous, the most destructive and the most violent predators ever to roam the earth.

Wait until the Mole Men declare war.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:54 PM on September 10, 2012


Cats should be put on trial. All of them.

It's been done. Although, like Mary, it was more of a lynching.
posted by homunculus at 9:59 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you like Kipling?

I don't know, I never kipiled...

WHEN the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

When Nag the basking cobra hears the careless foot of man,
He will sometimes wriggle sideways and avoid it if he can.
But his mate makes no such motion where she camps beside the trail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

When the early Jesuit fathers preached to Hurons and Choctaws,
They prayed to be delivered from the vengeance of the squaws.
'Twas the women, not the warriors, turned those stark enthusiasts pale.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Man's timid heart is bursting with the things he must not say,
For the Woman that God gave him isn't his to give away;
But when hunter meets with husbands, each confirms the other's tale—
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Man, a bear in most relations—worm and savage otherwise,—
Man propounds negotiations, Man accepts the compromise.
Very rarely will he squarely push the logic of a fact
To its ultimate conclusion in unmitigated act.

Fear, or foolishness, impels him, ere he lay the wicked low,
To concede some form of trial even to his fiercest foe.
Mirth obscene diverts his anger—Doubt and Pity oft perplex
Him in dealing with an issue—to the scandal of The Sex!

But the Woman that God gave him, every fibre of her frame
Proves her launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same;
And to serve that single issue, lest the generations fail,
The female of the species must be deadlier than the male.

She who faces Death by torture for each life beneath her breast
May not deal in doubt or pity—must not swerve for fact or jest.
These be purely male diversions—not in these her honour dwells—
She the Other Law we live by, is that Law and nothing else.

She can bring no more to living than the powers that make her great
As the Mother of the Infant and the Mistress of the Mate.
And when Babe and Man are lacking and she strides unclaimed to claim
Her right as femme (and baron), her equipment is the same.

She is wedded to convictions—in default of grosser ties;
Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him who denies!—
He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild,
Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.

Unprovoked and awful charges—even so the she-bear fights,
Speech that drips, corrodes, and poisons—even so the cobra bites,
Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw
And the victim writhes in anguish—like the Jesuit with the squaw!

So it comes that Man, the coward, when he gathers to confer
With his fellow-braves in council, dare not leave a place for her
Where, at war with Life and Conscience, he uplifts his erring hands
To some God of Abstract Justice—which no woman understands.

And Man knows it! Knows, moreover, that the Woman that God gave him
Must command but may not govern—shall enthral but not enslave him.
And She knows, because She warns him, and Her instincts never fail,
That the Female of Her Species is more deadly than the Male.

posted by Splunge at 9:34 PM on September 11, 2012


Animals were executed for other reasons as well—reasons that hint more explicitly at the strict religious attitudes of the time. In 1474 in Switzerland, Evans writes, a rooster was put to death “for the heinous and unnatural crime of laying an egg.” When hatched by a snake or toad, rooster’s eggs were thought to birth cockatrices or basilisks—mythical reptilian beasts capable of killing a man with a single look. Today, we might suggest that the cock was killed for the fluidity of his gender, which would put him in the same category as Jacques Ferron’s donkey or the unchaste sparrow: animals that committed “crimes” of sexuality.
On the Trail of the Warsaw Basilisk
posted by homunculus at 1:11 AM on September 12, 2012


Wait until the Mole Men declare war.

It begins.
posted by homunculus at 4:14 PM on September 14, 2012


A Gloomy Anthropomorphic Trawl
posted by homunculus at 8:57 PM on September 24, 2012


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