So, when talking about the colonies:
“The prisoners were marched up to the guns… and lashed to the muzzles,” he wrote. “The guns exploded… I could hardly see for the smoke for about 2 seconds when down came something with a thud about 5 yards from me. This was the head and neck of one of the men… On each side of the guns, about 10 yards, lay the arms torn out at the shoulders.”
Nigel Biggar, in his new history of British colonialism, acknowledges the brutality of Britain’s response to the mutiny but argues that the use of violence is “essential” to any state, as is “the deterrence of others through fear”. He adds: “Whatever one thinks of ‘blowing from a gun’ as a method of execution, it was not indiscriminate, insofar as the victim had been judged guilty of some crime.”
Biggar’s response to the treatment of Indian rebels exemplifies his approach. One might have thought that a professor of theology would have paused before attempting to find moral exculpation for such savage punishment.
Dunno really, how savage is that punishment. Sure, it looks savage, which is part of Biggar’s point. Very certainly dissuasive to the onlookers. But to the executee? Certainly faster and less painful than short drop hanging (note, standard drop and long drop both post-date the Indian Mutiny). More certain and faster than shooting.
So, as a method of execution it looks awful but to the person most intimately involved almost certainly “better” than other methods of execution at the time. Assuming that execution at all is allowable of course.
Which, this being The Guardian, of course it is. It’s entirely allowable to shoot the bourgeois in the back of the neck because building socialism. Of course.
Then there’s this:
Biggar describes the compensation as a necessary “political compromise”. That is a legitimate view; but a moral account should surely dig deeper into the ethics of providing recompense for lost “property” when that property consisted of other human beings.
Bollocks. It was a bribe. A bribe to make it happen. Money damn well spent.