I read something yesterday that caught my eye:
Executions were public spectacles, with the wealthy hiring balconies to get better views, and it did not take much to book yourself a spot at the gallows. Rough justice - Victorian style
I seem to get triggered by such statements; these triggers put me in moods/phases where I have to see and read all I can about the many different forms of punishment handed-down to criminals throughout the ages. It's quite fascinating and I sure do learn a lot when I take the time to read what was considered a criminal offense. For instance, behold the following offences that once plagued good society:
It is illegal for a lady to eat chocolates on a public conveyance
Any person found breaking a boiled egg at the sharp end will be sentenced to 24 hours in the village stocks (enacted by Edward VI).
Damaging the grass is illegal. Hey it's Sunday, Let's go Kill a Scotsman! : Archaic British Laws
Although death (putting an end to one's existence) has always been used as a teaching tool and warning for others, punishment and degradation have also been very common, popular ways to teach a lesson in morality:
Among the larger items on display are double "neck violins". These musically shaped portable stocks allowed for two quarrelling people to be locked face to face until they came to an agreement. Elsewhere is a range of iron masks for people who had offended someone, most with bells to attract the attention of passers-by.
These include one in the shape of a sow's head, for those who displayed piggish behaviour, and another with long ears, good for someone who acted like an ass. Some have a large metal ball attached to force open the mouth. Presumably, this stopped the victim from making light of things.
Of note, too, are the scold's bridles - metal facial masks with a spiked mouth depressor - that were used until the early 19th century on housewives who disagreed with their husband's decisions. She might be paraded through the streets and exposed to ridicule, all without a court order. Turn of the screw at torture museum
Those in a position of power and command were able to create the various forms of punishment dregs of society were to endure. (Imagine such a paid profession!) I like to look at the various types of Medieval torture devices used on people who dared to gossip, cheat, or exhibit any sign of weakness and illness. One of the most disturbing torture devices I found so far was reserved for the woman who dared to miscarry or have an adulterous affair: The Breast Ripper, otherwise known as The Spider:
The claws were used either hot or cold on the victim's exposed breasts. If the victim wasn't killed she would be scarred for life as her breasts were literally torn apart.
A common variant of the breast ripper is often referred to as "The Spider" which is a similar instrument attached to a wall. The victim's breasts were fixed to the claws and the woman was pulled by the turturer away from the wall; successfully removing them. Medieval Times and Castles
What does any of this "torture the criminals" have to do with child placement? It's amazing to me what people have been allowed to do, all in the name of moral preservation. All one has to do is look at how an unwanted pregnancy was treated... especially in workhouses for the poor. All one has to do is ask the unwed mother forced by her church and parents to relinquish her child to complete strangers. All one has to do is look at the power of hate against a given society. With birth comes death.
Historically speaking, people have been tortured for a variety of reasons. Religious beliefs, political beliefs, sexual tendencies... all three of these things went above and beyond murder and thievery. For many, the greatest sin... the worst crime committed was getting pregnant and being born. The worst thing these people could do is live without the daily reminder of all the wrong they did. Read throughout history, and have mercy on those born the wrong race, the wrong religion; pity the one born in the wrong region or the wrong gender. Suffer those who try to take from another... and damn those who chose the wrong lover. God forbid such ills should fall upon those who see themselves as socially and morally superior. [And people wonder why I look at torture devices with a macabre sense of humour?]
This morning I got an email from a friend... he wrote about his life as a child prisoner... trapped in a life that was brutal and unsafe. He wrote about the wrongs done to those who were seen as unwanted orphans in a children's home. He wrote about being viewed as a criminal... poisoned by bad blood and not worthy/deserving decent loving treatment and safe living conditions. He wrote how so-called good Christian society in a Barnardo's home treated him and others. [Of course he knows abuse and neglect within residential care is no surprise to me.] He wrote about being shown how little others truly care about a child's well-being AND happiness. Is it any wonder why so many of us 'waifs and strays' see no good in upper society?
The other day I had a different discussion with an adoptee. Although he considers himself one of "the lucky", he told me he wished he was never born. He did not see himself worthy of many things. He seemed to believe his life... his wants and needs were a burden... a burden that should not be inflicted on any person. The abortion that should have been? Sad how a parent's "moral" choice can change the life of a child.
I can't count how many times an abused adult adoptee has asked me, "Why do we always accept and settle for crumbs?"
Why? Because we had to pay for someone else's mistakes.
Because throughout the ages, orphans have never been allowed to voice a strong opinion. Because punishment and banishment is given to those who exhibit (and represent) bad behavior.
Because when it's all said and done, if your own parents and family don't want you... if your own government doesn't want you... WHAT GOOD ARE YOU?!?!?
Crumbs seem to be the steady diet for the poor, the wretched, and the unwanted. Provide enough to survive, but not enough to be comfortable. Work hard, and you will live. These are the lessons taught in the work-houses created for the poor and exiled.
I was one of the lucky ones. I was given crumbs and I was not worked like a migrant slave, outdoors. I was given enough to know what I really don't want or like. [I don't like to be raped, denied food, or denied friends and fun.]
I have grown to allow myself a better diet than what I had as a grateful adoptee, and I'm finally at the point where I no longer force myself to believe I need to suffer for the mistakes made by others. Not only that, (this one is a huge one...) I'm at the point where I believe I do NOT have to pay blood and guts for the simple mistake of not knowing better... for showing "bad behavior". I am growing into my own being, and for some, I know that truth may be very scary and threatening. I was born a fighter... but I tend to forget this strong detail because I have allowed so many in and out of my Afamily to beat me down and raze me. I have allowed them (my previous owners and those who used to use me most) to keep me at the lowest point, and from there, the low-life woman in me said I was doing the right thing by saying nothing, because low-lifes should be grateful for crumbs. [I laugh in sadness how much adoption has not saved me from this messed-up way of thinking!]
During my down-time, I have learned the following:
Treat a child with love, tenderness, respect and a sense of freedom... that child will learn how to love and embrace a sense of personal worth.
Treat a child like an unwanted animal... watch how that child will cower and die or grow and unleash.
Treat a child well, but then abandon that child quickly... watch how much that child will blame himself for another person's actions.
Punish the child who has done no wrong...tranquilize, medicate and sedate that unwanted creature, with all the unwanted behaviors... it's any one's guess if that child will become a gentle man or beast.
Do not do to others as it was done to me.
It's been a bad couple of days... but I will recover.
Somehow, so far, I always do.
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