Wednesday, September 21, 2016

[npvraiac] Guillotine

A curious bit of trivia begins the story: 1977 was the last time the guillotine was used in France, surprisingly recent.  But 1977 is in fact the last time anyone was executed in France, because as a civilized country, France abolished the death penalty after that.

Who was the last person person executed in France?  Can you guess characteristics about the person and about the crime?  Answer: an Arab man convicted of kidnapping, rape, and murder of a young white French woman.  And well duh, you could have guessed that: in a country with popular sentiment on the cusp of abolishing capital punishment, it's the lower class committing a sex crime against the upper class that incites the blood lust for revenge; similar to lynchings for (perceived) sex crimes in American history.

Who was the last person executed in Western Europe, before all of Western Europe abolished the death penalty?  The answer is, again, this case -- France was the last to abolish the death penalty -- and again, duh, you could have guessed it given how high social tensions are between Arab and white in France.  (Though if the answer were instead the English executing an Irishman, the Germans executing a Turk, or anyone executing a Romani, that would not be too surprising.)  France probably is the closest to reenacting the death penalty for exactly this continued social tension (terror attacks), though one wonders what method of execution they will use.

Once again, a lesson for America: the continued existence of the death penalty reflects the social tension and discord in the country.  If the death penalty is abolished too quickly, we'll probably see lynchings again.

Japan also still has a death penalty.

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