One hundred years ago today saw the start of World War 1, perhaps the first industrial war. Here’s a striking image from Flanders in 1917:
Another striking image from the same year:
Wow, this really takes the shock approach to charity advertising to a whole new level:
The video shows a young black boy being treated like a pet by a wealthy white person. For instance, the boy/dog brings the newspaper to his/its “owner” and gets a treat as a reward. The message is that dogs have a better life than young blacks in South Africa, and that racism is to blame. This may be true. There’s still a lot of poverty there and things are only slowly improving. However, the video comes across as unnecessarily offensive, at least to me. I understand that it’s sometimes necessary to shock people in order to get a message across, but it’s not as if we don’t know that blacks in SA are often poor and hungry or that there’s racism in that particular country. I mean, I challenge you to think about “racist country” and come up with another country first.
After the video itself, there’s someone offering a short justification that sounds very unconvincing. “What if this advert changes a child’s life? What if it changes 3.5 million lives?” Well, I’ve got news for you: adverts don’t do that. If you want to make a difference, donate directly.
UPDATE: message received apparently. The video has now been made “private”… This way it’s “impact guaranteed”. A few screenshots that haven’t been censored:
Here’s an incomplete pirate version:
100 years ago today, Gavrilo Princip kills Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie Chotek in Sarajevo. A few weeks later, WWI started. For some reason, one thing in particular comes to mind when I remember my history lessons: shell shock.
Shell shock was the reaction of some soldiers in World War I to the trauma of battle and to the intensity of the bombardments. The illness covered a wide variety of symptoms: helplessness appearing variously as panic or flight, an inability to reason, sleep, walk or talk, amnesia, hysterical paralysis, contractures, mutism. A dazed thousand-yard stare is also typical.
Here are two interesting and short documentaries:
Most of the time, I write about human rights in highly abstract terms, and I feel that this doesn’t quite do justice to the theme. The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is, like most clichés, partially true. Hence my decision to publish photographs of human rights violations. I even have a blog series entirely dedicated to iconic or soon to be iconic images of human rights violations.
Now and then, this decision has led to complaints from readers. The images that I publish, although invariably showing human rights violations, do not necessarily induce horror or disgust, but some of them do given the nature of the topic. It’s understandably unpleasant when shocking images are hoisted upon readers without warning. I do try to hide the most horrific ones behind a warning, as in this case for example. But in general I just show the images as they are.
Why do I do this? Certainly not because I like to shock. My only reason for posting images of rights violations is our need to know what it means to have our rights violated. A lot of this meaning is captured in images rather than words. We often only really know what it means to have our rights violated when we know what it looks like to have our rights violated. This isn’t just because of mnemonic reasons – although it’s obviously true that an image will produce better retention, and that better retention will increase long term consciousness. (One can reasonably hope that long term consciousness of an issue promotes activism). Images have a vividness and clarity that is often absent from words – or at least from my words. Readers’ feelings of disgust or horror, although regrettable, are a necessary corollary of the process of learning about human rights.
Apart from reader sensitivities, there are other arguments against the publication of images of people having their rights violated. For example, people may be harmed by the knowledge that the suffering of their friends or family members is displayed in public. In some cases, they may even learn about this suffering through the publication of photographs, which is of course an even greater form of harm. And what about the dignity and privacy of those suffering?
Those points are moot in the case of most photographs that I publish. Those are often photographs that have been published before, and I tend not to publish very recent ones. Hence I’m not telling relatives about what happened to their loved ones; and privacy is obviously not a concern to victims and relatives who are long since death. When I do publish photos of recent events, I try to blur the victims’ faces (see this example).
I have to say that I’m not absolutely convinced I’m doing the right thing here. Posts like this one make me doubt. So I’m open to persuasion, but as it stands I’ll keep my policy in place.
We’ve seen before that human imagination knows no bounds, especially when it comes to reciprocal cruelty. For instance, there’s a long history of the use of animals as cruelty enhancers, and weaponized animals are one particularly interesting part of it. A few examples, both old and recent, both real and fanciful:
These are just the most obvious cases. Mankind has been so kind to develop biological warfare, and even entomological warfare, which is basically the use of very small organisms such as insects or germs, not to shoot or bomb but to spread disease, destroy crops etc. You can do it the old-fashioned way like the Hittites of Asia Minor in 1,500 B.C., and sent plague victims into enemy lands or catapult disease-ridden corpses over fortress walls. Or you can try to disseminate the germs through bombs and deliberate contagions (for instance by mailing a postal letter). Some say that biological weapons were used in the genocide of Native Americans.
Urban inequality is both chosen and coerced. There’s voluntary self-segregation among the wealthy motivated by family ties, repulsion of the poor, racism, fear of crime and other kinds of sorting. The organization of work, trade and industry also plays a role. The poor, for their part, are often forced to self-segregate in the cheaper parts of towns because of land and house prices.
Authorities as well play their part: they influence land and house prices through building restrictions, zoning laws, height restrictions, rent control and unequal government investment in infrastructure, education and transportation. These policies not only affect the relative attractiveness of houses, but also lower the supply of houses, thereby increasing their prices. This is obviously to the detriment of the poor who find themselves in less regulated and underinvested districts.
In addition, industrial and labor policy, work permits and trade regulations disproportionately favor the wealthy and again help to concentrate the poor in less desirable parts of town.
Although this isn’t by any means a fixed outcome – there may be gentrification, suburbanization, inflows of new immigrants or changes in government policies – we often see the formation of more or less homogenous and established districts. Sometimes this jumps out of population maps such as these. The separation between districts can be sharp rather than fluid. It may be a natural border such as a river, or even a manmade one. Border walls are not uncommon, since the wealthy need to keep out the riffraff. As a consequence, many urban separations are not only recognizable from population maps but can be seen by the naked eye. A few examples:
So you have a cycle: people make the city more unequal, and then the city makes the people more unequal.
The “June 4th Incident“, known to everyone outside of the Chinese government as the Tiananmen Massacre, has it’s 25th anniversary today. Here’s an image taken one day after, on June 5th, 1989:
This one is taken on the day itself:
The Sri Lankan Civil War began in July 1983. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the LTTE, also known as the Tamil Tigers) fought an insurgency against the government to create an independent Tamil state called Tamil Eelam in the north and the east of the island. After a 26-year military campaign, the Sri Lankan military defeated the Tamil Tigers in May 2009, bringing the civil war to an end. An estimated 100,000 people were killed. Both sides, but especially the Sri Lankan government during the final phase of and just after the war, committed horrible crimes.
This appears to be the brutalized corpse of a Tamil fighter:
There are basically three types of fail here: 1) a mix of fraud, lies and propaganda, 2) stupid mistakes, and 3) hyping the unimportant. Let’s start with the latter. A classic type of cable news garbage is nothingness served as content:
Nothingness is a problem and content is better. Except of course when the content is wrong. There are different kinds of error plaguing our TV screens. First you have the category of factual or numerical mistakes:
Another CNN fail:
So as not to pick on one network in particular, here‘s a list of equally catastrophic Fox errors, although I suspect a number of those are cases of fraud rather than error.
Another type of mistake is in the wording. How about this for clumsy:
And then you have the Freudian slip:
Everyone makes mistakes, but it takes a special kind of person to make a “news” program and fill it with deliberate misrepresentations and lies:
Eugen Weidmann (1908-1939) was the last person to be publicly executed in France in June 1939. He was guilty of multiple murders. Executions by guillotine in France continued in private until September 10, 1977, when Hamida Djandoubi was the last person to be executed.
Weidmann’s execution was photographed and even filmed. Here are some of the photographs:
Here’s the film (careful: it’s upsetting):
This is the man in better times:
For comparison: the U.S. performed it’s last public execution three years earlier, in 1936, and is of course still killing criminals in this day and age.
Protests don’t have to be mass protests. Individual actions like this one can be very high profile. Or you can go subtle, like this:
However, I think it’s fair to say that mass protests are usually more effective, not necessarily in the sense of achieving the stated ends but in the sense of achieving something. Hence the recent spate of massively popular urban demonstrations. Maidan, Tahrir, Taksim… The list goes on and on. Someone counted the number of protests during the last couple of years and there’s indeed a steady increase:
37 of the 834 events counted had one million or more protesters!
Analysis of these protests often focuses on the role of social media, but just as interesting and somewhat forgotten is the role of urban planning and architecture. Most mass protests take place in and around central squares of large cities and it’s easy to see why these are favorite protest spots:
A particular urban setting – intentionally designed or grown over the course of history – can promote the occurrence and intensity of mass protests. It’s no surprise therefore that the urban planners of dictators try to design cities in such a way that potential protesters are discouraged. Focal points such as large squares are not designed away – a dictator needs them for the theatre of power – but they are policed and fenced. Small streets that could be used by protesters to escape and barricade are demolished and replaced by wide avenues:
These avenues can then be used to send in the troops if need be. For example, Beijing’s avenues were instrumental in the attack on Tiananmen square.
The model of pro-autocratic urban design is of course the rebuilding of Paris in the 1850s and 1860s. Baron Haussmann turned a medieval city full of narrow streets into a rational, centralized, geometrically ordered system with grand boulevards that would be both harder to barricade and easier for troops to march through. The hope was that this would stop the revolutionary fervor in France. Here’s a before/after image of 19th century Paris:
All dictators ever since have tried to replicate this model, if necessary by way of the construction from scratch of new capital cities in the middle of nowhere. If international embarrassment becomes less painful than a fall from power, the central squares and large avenues can be used to crush dissent. In Tiananmen the crushing took place by way of tanks, but usually the means are less extreme:
So you have your classic double edged sword: large open spaces can facilitate protest, but also the reaction of the state.
Some bonus pictures of the Majdan protests in Kiev:
A young man being executed in Tehran a few nights ago. Some reports say that the witnesses in the first image were the family of the person executed, others say that it’s the family of his victims. Makes a big difference in interpretation of the image, obviously. Maybe they’re both there.
Yarmouk, a Palestinian neighborhood in Damascus, has been under siege by the Syrian army since July 2013.
At least 55 people have died from hunger and the majority of children are suffering from malnutrition, according to a Palestinian activist living in Yarmouk.
About 20,000 people are currently besieged in Yarmouk. The regime of Bashar al-Assad says “terrorists” are holding people hostage. Beyond the tactical starvation, Syrian jets have also been bombing the area.
This picture, published by United Nations Relief Workers Agency, shows a seemingly endless line of people waiting for food aid.
This may seem like a good time to publish some illustrated commentary about homophobia. It used to be the case that in most countries of the world, homophobia meant outright legal prohibition of homosexuality. And that’s still the case today in some countries. The often grotesque punishments make it even worse. Uganda is now in the spotlight for it’s recent anti-homosexuality legislation. The risk of vigilante violence against Ugandan gays is not unreal when you have newspaper headlines like this:
This is the Red Pepper tabloid, one of Uganda’s biggest selling newspapers:
A Ugandan tabloid has named the country’s “200 top homosexuals”, a day after President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill toughening penalties for gay people.
Red Pepper’s list appeared under the headline: “Exposed”, raising concerns of a witch-hunt against gay people. … Homosexual acts were already illegal in Uganda, but the new law bans the promotion of homosexuality and covers lesbians for the first time. (source)
Another Ugandan newspaper also openly called for the persecution of homosexuals a few years ago:
One of those listed in the now defunct Rolling Stone, David Kato, was subsequently murdered.
Homophobia is also on the rise on Russia lately. Putin has masterminded a series of laws discriminating against homosexuals, which have resulted in this amusing protest:
Of course, there’s homophobia even in countries that don’t make homosexuality or the promotion of homosexuality a crime. And it doesn’t have to be less painful. For example, there’s been the infamous Matthew Shepard murder in the US, somewhat of a cause célèbre of homophobic hate crime:
However, some doubts have been raised as to the nature of the crime. Perhaps it wasn’t a hate crime after all. Whether or not it was, there have been numerous other cases that most definitely were. Here’s an example:
Let’s start with an unintentionally ironic one:
This one is fun as well:
“Ethnics” doesn’t make good noun, if you ask me.
Following the recent floods in the UK, someone thought it was a good idea to use development aid money to help UK flood victims, because fellow citizens whom you’ve never met before are obviously more important than desperately poor people born on the other side of an imaginary line on the ground:
It’s hard to understand, but there are apparently people who want to send back all immigrants:
Your respectable xenophobe usually limits himself or herself throwing out the criminal immigrants:
Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to private and family life – is now in force in the UK, and some “foreign criminals” have won appeals against deportation based on this article. This has led to a backlash in the UK against the Convention and against “human rights” and “Europe” in general. As if deportation is necessary for the fight against crime. I mean, they do have prisons in the UK, don’t they?
Here’s an older clipping, from the US this time, with a review of a book about the “celebrated” Dred Scott decision:
The Dred Scott case, rather than celebrated, is now infamous for upholding slavery. The “prognathous race” is the African race, by the way. Prognathous means having a projecting lower jaw or chin, and this was believed to be typical of blacks:
You might ask, what has Dred Scot to do with xenophobia? Isn’t that a simple although horrible case of racism? Well, part of the Supreme Court decision was the ruling that African Americans, whether slave or free, could not be American citizens and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court. In other words, they were strangers – xenoi – forever.
Human zoos, euphemistically called “ethnological expositions”, were quite common between the mid 1800s and the beginning of the 20th century, although they already existed during the Renaissance. Actual people, mostly from Africa, were brought over to Europe and displayed in monkey style cages or recreated villages, often side-by-side with the more traditional animal exhibits. Entire families were recruited from the colonies and paraded for the entertainment of western spectators. One can only guess how many made it back home.
Although she personally was never part of a “zoo” exhibition, Sarah – or “Saartjie” – Baartman (not her real name of course) is probably history’s most famous human exhibit. She’s standing in the middle here:
Sarah was a Khoikhoi woman who was exhibited as a freak show attraction in early 19th-century Europe under the name Hottentot Venus — “Hottentot” was the then-current name for the Khoi people. “Venus” because of her body shape. After she died impoverished at a very young age, her body was dissected and her remains displayed. For more than a century and a half – until 1974! – visitors to the “Museum of Man” in Paris could view her brain and skeleton until they were removed from public view and stored out of sight; a cast of her body was still shown. In 2002, she was peacefully laid to rest in her homeland South Africa.
The remains of one very interesting human zoo can still be visited in the Vincennes woods of Paris. Over a 100 years ago, in the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale a public exhibition was held to promote French colonialism.
In 1907, six different villages were built in the Jardin d’Agronomie Tropicale, representing all the corners of the French colonial empire at the time– Madagascar, Indochine, Sudan, Congo, Tunisia and Morocco. The villages and their pavilions were built to recreate the life and culture as it was in their original habitats. This included mimicking the architecture, importing the agriculture and appallingly, inhabiting the replica houses with people, brought to Paris from the faraway territories. … Entire families recruited from the colonies were placed in replicas of their villages, given mock traditional costumes and paid to put on a show for spectators. (source)
Here’s one of the “attractions”:
I think this is from the same “Jardin”:
Here’s another, very “cheap” looking replica village (I don’t know where this image was taken):
Human zoos were comparable to the much more common “freak shows”. Both focused on the display of “exotic” or strange body shapes:
More on animalization here.
Here’s a similar image from somewhere else (looks like DC):
There’s obviously no human right to wear a bikini, but getting arrested for wearing one is a rights violation. And all this is indicative of society’s disregard for gender equality. The famous story of Annette Kellerman is relevant here. Kellerman was famous for advocating the right of women to wear a one-piece bathing suit, which was controversial at the time. According to an Australian magazine, “In the early 1900s, women were expected to wear cumbersome dress and pantaloon combinations when swimming. In 1907, at the height of her popularity, Kellerman was arrested on Revere Beach, Massachusetts, for indecency – she was wearing one of her fitted one-piece costumes.” Here she is:
Unsurprisingly, women have been the main targets of the decency police. And yet, here’s an example of a man at a beach in the Netherlands being fined for not wearing decent clothes (in 1931):
“Over the top” is an understatement when it comes to North Korean propaganda. Here’s how they portray US soldiers:
A systematic cultivation of “the enemy” is of course typical of totalitarian regimes. Here’s how the North Koreans plan to deal with it:
Here’s the US in retaliatory mode:
More on North Korea here.
“Female emancipation” has become a somewhat old-fashioned term. Like “women’s lib”. “Gender equality” and “women’s rights” are probably better. However, for history’s sake, here’s a short illustrated guide to the early days of what used to be called female emancipation.
The bicycle has become somewhat of an icon in the history of gender equality. A century ago, Alice Hawkins, a suffragette, cycled around Leicester promoting the women’s rights movement, causing outrage by being one of the first ladies to wear pantaloons in the city. During the fight to win the vote the bicycle became not only a tool but also a symbol for the emancipation of women.
Emancipation wasn’t just about the right to vote. The right to work and to choose an occupation was equally important. Here’s a clipping from the Caledonian Mercury, February 5th, 1814:
This is “Wendy the Welder” at a boat-and-sub-building yard, adjusting her goggles before resuming work in Groton, CT, 1943:
Communist regimes – the “workers’ paradise” – always made a big deal of gender equality, at least in their propaganda messages:
Obviously, emancipation had a private meaning as well. Traditional gender roles within the family had to be challenged:
One rather strange manifestation of female anticipation was called the “Torches of Freedom”. The point was to encourage women to smoke. Cigarettes were described as symbols of emancipation and equality with men. The term was first used by psychoanalyst A. A. Brill when describing the “natural” desire for women to smoke and was used by Edward Bernays to encourage women to smoke in public despite social taboos. Bernays hired women to march while smoking their “torches of freedom” in the Easter Sunday Parade of 1929 which was a significant moment for fighting social barriers for women smokers (source).
Needless to say, the movement for women’s rights hasn’t completely fulfilled its mission. Here’s a contemporary example:
Dana Bakdounes posted this image in 2012 on a Facebook page called Uprising of Women in the Arab World.
Facebook suspended the account of several people behind the Uprising of Women in the Arab World page Wednesday over an issue stemming from a photo of an unveiled woman.
More than 61,000 people like the page, which shares hundreds of images of women (who were variably veiled, unveiled, or wearing a niqab) and men who support women’s rights in the Middle East. The photos typically depict those people holding up signs explaining why they support the “human rights, freedom, and independence of women in the Arab world.”
Facebook deleted the photo, apparently over complaints that it was “insulting,” and suspended an admin for 24 hours. Other reports suggested the image was reported for nudity and one of the admins, Farah Barqawi, told German site Detektor.fm that it was pulled due to “mysogenists and extremists.” (source)
Franklin Eugene McCain died two days ago. McCain and three others, now known as the “Greensboro Four,” are credited with initiating the sit-in movement when they sat down at the F. W. Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro on February 1, 1960 and requested service.
More human rights videos are here.
Despite the iconic nature of this image I couldn’t find any information about it. Lots of websites have posted it, but never with any useful comments. I don’t know where it’s taken. Was it a protest that turned violent? Who was protesting what? Is it police brutality or a justified hit? If it’s official misconduct then it’s certainly a human rights violation. The right to protest is a protected form of free speech. Or maybe it wasn’t a protest at all. (In which case we could still be looking at a rights violation).
Your help is welcome. Please use the comment section if you know something about the image.
More iconic photos.
More on North Korea here.
three weeks after Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus abruptly derailed school desegregation in September 1957. Confident that the Negroes would be kept out by the cordon of Arkansas National Guardsmen surrounding the school, crowds of angry whites—many having no connection to the school or to Little Rock—arrived every morning to demonstrate their disapproval of integration. They watched white students enter the school and kept a watchful eye to make sure black students, though backed by a federal court order allowing them in, didn’t try to sneak in. White reporters and cameramen faced relentless heckling, physical taunts and spittle. Black reporters faced worse. The story had drawn many of the most experienced journalists in the black press, reporters who had braved the back roads of the South and pioneered civil rights coverage long before it caught on with the mainstream white press. But as they tried to penetrate the scene around the high school, they met scorn and stonewalling as National Guardsmen quickly moved them off the premises and away from the story.
On the warm Monday morning of Sept. 23, the integration stalemate broke and the story changed. The National Guard, following a federal court edict, had withdrawn. The white crowds stayed, however, leaving the school’s grounds and perimeter beyond the control of authorities. Black students on their way to the school in a station wagon were heading into an unpredictable mob scene.
At the same time, in a separate car, intent on witnessing and covering the moment firsthand, were four seasoned black newsmen. Their leader was the tall, dark-skinned and serious L. Alex Wilson, the editor and general manager of the Tri-State Defender of Memphis, Tennessee—the newspaper that was the southern outpost of the Chicago Defender, one of the foremost black newspapers in the United States. (Continue reading).
I’ll never be able to understand how this scene could have been horrifying to anyone:
And this image shows the absurdness of segregation:
Is this de facto segregation? I couldn’t find anything about the context of the photo:
And this is just one of the sexiest images ever:
If you look carefully at the top left of this image, you’ll see a fellow who doesn’t know his place:
Some lesser-known images of this horrific period in the history of capitalism, but striking nonetheless:
The Nazi era is an infinite source of weird stories, bizarre relics, secret inventions and over-the-top conspiracy theories. I don’t know why. Perhaps this is a way of dealing with the horror of Nazi crimes. There are stories about Hitler’s corpse, Hitler’s survival and escape, secret nazi camps on the Antarctic, strange weapons etc. Below are a few of the most bizarre.
All conspiracy theories are good fun, but this is one of the best. The Nazi UFO theory argues that the Nazis successfully attempted to develop advanced air and spacecraft prior to and during World War II, and that these vehicles survived the war in secret underground bases in Antarctica, South America or the United States, along with their creators. After all, they did manage to produce rockets. Here’s a so-called photograph:
Or maybe the Nazis used their UFOs to escape to the moon instead. Here’s “evidence” of a Nazi moon station:
There’s even a popular movie about it which some call fiction:
Or was it Mars rather than the moon? Mars rover Curiosity has apparently found a Nazi helmet on Mars:
But let’s return back to earth, literally and figuratively. How about the Nazi motorcycle tank?
Weird you say? I agree, it doesn’t look quite real. But this one does:
And how about Nazi ice-cream? Strange indeed but could be tasty, at least for those without a sense of history:
As in many other religions, the beard is important for a certain subgroup of Jews. Leviticus 19:27 states: “You shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard”. Then watch the smirk:
It’s not only Jews. Many Muslims as well view shaving as haram, or forbidden, because the prophet and his immediate followers wore beards. Consequently, those who do not like Muslims sometimes engage in forcible shaving. Here’s a present-day example:
Nidal Hasan … [t]he army psychiatrist sentenced to death for the Fort Hood shooting rampage has been forcibly shaved, an army spokesman has said. Major Nidal Hasan began growing a beard after the November 2009 shooting that left 13 dead and 30 wounded. … Hasan, 42, who was born in America, is an inmate of the US detention barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, home to the military death row. (source)
Pointless and petulant, if you ask me. However, one can perhaps invoke military grooming regulations or other reasons (maybe the performance of the death penalty in general requires a clean shaven face, I don’t know). Another bizarre story of attacks on beards: an Amish splinter group has been forcibly cutting the beards off of their rivals.
The beard, of course, isn’t the only religious symbol that can come under attack:
Today, in a letter to the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), the ACLU and United Sikhs called on state officials to investigate the harassment of a Sikh commercial truck driver pulled over early this year for a flat tire. After detaining Mr. Jageet Singh in January as he passed through Mississippi, the officers called him a “terrorist” and harassed and humiliated him because of his appearance and religious beliefs. As a devout Sikh, Mr. Singh wears a turban and carries a kirpan. A kirpan is a small, spiritual sword that is sheathed and sewn to the waistband. It is designed and worn as an article of faith, much as a cross is worn by devout Christians.
Contending, wrongly, that his kirpan was illegal, the officers demanded that Mr. Singh remove it. When Mr. Singh explained that he was a Sikh and that the kirpan was a sacred religious article, the officers laughed at him and mocked his religious beliefs. One officer declared that all Sikhs are “depraved” and “terrorists.” They continued to taunt him, and forced Mr. Singh to circle his truck with his hands on his turban while they searched the vehicle. Finally, not content with this humiliation, they arrested him, claiming that Mr. Singh had refused to obey an officer’s lawful command.
Mr. Singh’s ordeal did not end with the MDOT. When he returned to Mississippi on March 26, 2013, for his court date at the Pike County Justice Court, he once again suffered humiliation, harassment, and discrimination because of his religious beliefs. Waiting for his attorney in the back of the courtroom, he was stunned when four Highway Patrol officers approached him and ordered him to leave the courtroom. The officers stated that Judge Aubrey Rimes had ordered them to eject Mr. Singh from the courtroom because he did not like Mr. Singh’s turban. Moreover, they told Mr. Singh that Judge Rimes would punish him if he failed to remove his headdress.
When Mr. Singh’s attorney went to Judge Rimes’s chambers to inquire about the matter, he readily confirmed that he had expelled Mr. Singh from the courtroom because of his turban. He further stated that Mr. Singh would not be allowed to re-enter the courtroom unless he removed “that rag” from his head and threatened to call Mr. Singh last on the docket if he continued to wear the religious headdress. (source)
Similar to the turban is the veil for Muslim women. This symbol is often the target of discomfort, criticism and even legal prohibition. There have been reports of violent attacks on Muslim women wearing the veil. Here’s one case (warning: shocking video):
Then there were the bombings of mosques in Bosnia:
The “war on Christmas” is a canard, but there have been genuine attacks on Christianity, such as this and this for instance. What the “war on Christmas” does make clear, however, is that a lot of so-called attacks on religious symbols are in reality attempts by democratic governments to remain religiously neutral. Here’s a famous case:
The Mojave Memorial Cross is a cross formerly on public land in the Mojave desert that was at the center of the Salazar v. Buono legal case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The original cross was erected in 1934 to honor those killed in war. The cross has been maintained by volunteers and was reconstructed after being destroyed. It was boarded up after lower court rulings declared it illegal because of separation of church and state constitutional concerns.
The Supreme Court ruled that the cross may stay.
Anti-Roma prejudice has existed for centuries. Here’s an example of one of the more extreme stereotypes, which has fortunately become somewhat less fashionable over time:
Prejudice has led to the darkest period in Roma history, the Holocaust:
Even today, in prosperous Europe, the Romani are often very poor. Their living conditions and housing are more like those of a third world country:
The Roma are not only disadvantaged. They still, in some places, suffer physical attacks:
However, let’s end on a happier note:
All forms of criminal punishment are in some sense public humiliation of the criminal, but some forms are more so. The pillory is the archetypical tool:
A variation of the pillory:
Remnants of the practice still exist today. US judges in particular sometimes administer “alternative” punishments:
This is essentially the same as the pillory: you have shaming and immobilization, albeit immobilization without restraints. Given prison conditions in the US, one can almost understand this type of punishment.
There are/were other forms besides the pillory. The “scold’s bridle” was a punishment designed to humiliate as well as to hurt. It took many different appearances but in essence it was always a metal cage clamped around the head with a built-in gag. Sometimes it included a bell which rang when the “scold” was paraded around the town. A scold was defined as a “troublesome and angry woman who by brawling and wrangling amongst her neighbors breaks the public peace, increases discord and becomes a public nuisance to the neighborhood”. It’s unclear why women were singled out, but the practice was most likely part of a pervasive culture of gender discrimination. It looked like this:
Speaking of bells, there’s also this image (I don’t know if it is an authentic interpretation of history):
Public flogging is another type of punishment as humiliation. It’s also still practiced today in some parts of the world. This is a whipping post in Delaware used to discipline African slaves:
The supposed justification of all forms of punishment by way of public humiliation is the need to “send a message” and express the norms of society. Humiliation is also believed to be a strong deterrent.
I haven’t mentioned public executions which have more or less the same purpose. Read about those elsewhere.
However, let’s finish on a lighter touch. Here the amazing Frank Zappa with “Whippin’ Post”: