This is a bit weird

But instead a gallows was dramatically produced as the condemned man knelt in the middle of the basketball court, weeping and asking for his mother, hands bound behind his back.

The crowd, many of them children, cried and yelled out \”No, no\” or called on God to help them as they realised what was about to happen. Two young men bravely ran up to the revolutionary judges and begged them for mercy.

The worst moment came right at the end, as the hanged man kicked and writhed on the gallows. A determined-looking young woman stepped forward, grabbed him by the legs, and pulled hard on his body until the struggling stopped.

This is used as evidence of what an entire cow the woman, Huda Ben Amer, is. And indeed she may well be a vicious thug who has risen in Gaddafi\’s system.

But back when we had public hangings, back when it was short drop and strangulation rather than long drop and an immediate broken neck (and this isn\’t all that long ago, either, there are certainly reports that the American executioners after Nuremburg used the short drop), to hang onto the legs of those choking to death was regarded as an act of charity. To shorten their suffering: so much so that friends of the condemned might bribe the execitioner to allow them to do this.

No, not defending her at all: just noting how when we do something (or our forefathers did) we seem to view it differently from when Johnny Foreigner does it.

Is to put someone out of their misery really \”the worst moment\”?

10 comments on “This is a bit weird

  1. A slightly more charitable interpretation (for the Nick Meo, not for Ben Amer) would be that she did it merely to bring herself to Gaddaffi’s notice. That she didn’t care about the suffering, or lack of.

    But, yes, there may be no (or few) good ways to die but there are worse ways – and slow strangulation is one of them.

  2. It is strange that it seems, by the account in the article, to have contributed to her rise. Because yes, not only did people bribe the executioner to allow it, but sometimes they were paying the people hanging onto their legs too to provide the service.

  3. Should there be quotation marks around this bit? If not it certainly has the rhythm and sound of the way many arabs speak in English – or maybe that’s just native bad journalism –

    “Before Al-Sadek’s hanging, Mrs Ben Amir was a nobody, living in a miserable two-room bungalow in central Benghazi. Afterwards her family enjoyed living in a huge home in the most upmarket part of Benghazi, with a view of the Mediterranean from the top floor. She had big houses, nice cars, and a lifestyle of parties and foreign travel.”

    Love the view from the top floor.

    viva la revolucion.

  4. MikeinAppalachia – “It is noteworty that America was using longer drops thatn the British”

    Maybe Americans have thicker necks. One of the risks of the long drop is that the head is ripped clean off. As happened with the last woman to be executed in front of journalists in the UK. Apparently they were sprayed with blood. So the Home Office did not allow anyone to witness executions afterwards.

  5. I’m not sure the Seppo executioner at Nuremburg used the short drop method, I’d never heard that complaint before.

    Pierrepoint did complain, however, that the guy brought in had never hanged anyone (he was a gasser or an electrocuter by trade) and that he had a drinking problem, both of which offended Albert’s sense of propriety.

    Britain’s chief hangman also noted that the trap in the gallows was way too small, causing the “customers” to get seriously banged up on their way down. Evidence of this was also noted by journalists who watched the show.

  6. Tim,

    Tunisia’s former colonial power stopped public executions in 1936, I think, and am well open to correction on that one; the journalist Webb Miller timed Landru’s, in 1922, at 26 seconds from start to finish (opening of the prison doors to head in the basket).

    Given the nature of French colonial administration, I would imagine a reversion to public executions in a former colony would be a step backward; just as Idi Amin’s mass executions and butchery were a definite step backward either for, or from, us.

    Kingsbury Smith’s account of the Nuremberg executions indicates that the only one whose legs were pulled was Streicher. He seemed careful not to record the gallows’ height; however, he might be suggesting that a short drop was used when he wrote of Sauckel’s execution that “(t)he trap was sprung at 2.26 am and, as in the case of Streicher, there was a loud roan from the gallows pit as the noose snapped tightly under the weight of his body”.

    All bloody morbid, and makes me grateful we don’t have a death penalty any more.

  7. To clarify, the executioner at Nuremberg didn’t use a “short drop”, he used a “fixed drop”. Not quite the same thing.

    In a proper long drop, each “customer” gets a custom drop, calculated using his/her weight, and any adjustment that the hangman felt appropriate based on his experience (i.e. thick-necked athletic customer might get a slightly longer drop than specified by the “table of drops”).

    In a fixed drop, each victim gets the same standard drop. In the Nuremberg example it was five feet IIRC. This may be enough for some or most “customers”, but will be too short for some, as was the case at Nuremberg.

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