The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals

The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals

by Edward Payson Evans

A Pioneering Work In English, Bringing Together A Most Amazing Assemblage Of Court Cases In Which Animals (Chickens, Rats, Field Mice, Bees, And Pigs) Have Been Named As Defendants, Providing Much Insight Into Animal Rights And Capital Punishment.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 4.00
  • Pages: 352
  • Publish Date: July 1st 2007 by Kessinger Publishing
  • Isbn10: 0548130310
  • Isbn13: 9780548130315

What People Think about "The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals"

The usual defense of an animal in court was that animals aren't capable of reason, understanding laws, or taking responsibility for their actions. This specific set of arguments for and against animals in court are recorded as taking place repeatedly in different regions and hundreds of years apart. When the court date arrived the attorney argued that his clients had not appeared due to the danger of them travelling through areas inhabited by their enemies, the cats." - page 26 "The same ancient code that condemned a homicidal ox to be stoned, declared that a witch should not be suffered to live, and although the Jewish lawgiver may have regarded the former enactment chiefly as a police regulation designed to protect persons against unruly cattle, it was, like the decree of death against witches, genetically connected with the Hebrew cult and had therefore an essentially religious character." - page 30 "Diabolical agencies were assumed to be at work in every maleficent force of nature and to be incarnate in every noxious creature." - page 31 "There was described the miracle of St. Bernard, who excommunicated the flies annoying the worshipers at the abbey church of Foigny, and the next day they were all dead in such a great quantity that they had to be shoveled out. Their defects are, as I have discovered, owing to the fact that in brute as in us, the mind works through material organs, and inasmuch as these organs are grosser and less perfect in the lower animals than in man, it follows that their exhibitions of intelligence, their thoughts and all their mental operations must be less perfect; and, if these proud spirits are conscious of their condition, how humiliating it must be for them to see themselves thus embruted ! "The worship of animals originates in the belief that they are embodiments of devils, so that zoolatry, which holds such a prominent place in primitive religions, is only a specific form of demonolatry." As a result, "The good Catholic becomes an efficient co-worker with God by maltreating brutes and thus aiding the Almighty in punishing the devils, of which they are the visible and bruisable forms. In his Magnalia Christi Americana (Book VI, (III), London, 1702) Cotton Mather records that "on June 6, 1662, at New Haven, there was a most Capital Punishment of Animals unparalleled wretch, one Potter by name, about sixty years of age, executed for damnable Bestialities." - Page 149 I know academically that Medieval Antisemitism was severe, but reading some of the specifics is horrifying. Damhouder, in the work just cited, includes Turks and Saracens in the same category, "inasmuch as such persons in the eye of the law and our holy faith differ in no wise from beasts." - Page 153 In some cases Jewish people were even considered lower than some animals. p. 302) states: ""it is the law and custom in Burgundy that if an ox or a horse commit one or several homicides, it shall not be condemned to death, but shall be taken by the Seignior within whose jurisdiction the deed was perpetrated or by his servitors and be confiscated to him and shall be sold and appropriated to the profit of the said Seignior; but if other beasts or Jews do it, they shall be hanged by the hind feet until dead"" - page 165 So that I don't end this on such a depressing note, in some cases inanimate objects have also been subject to ridiculous judicial attention.

Humphrey considers three possible benefits, which are only hinted at by Evans: Elimination of social danger: A pig who has killed once may do so again. However, this does not gel with the many cases that Evans discusses where animals were sentenced to torture before death. However, this also does not accord with some of the stranger cases that Evans discusses: namely cases of inanimate objects being put on trial, such as statues in Ancient Greece which fell on people. For Humphrey this suggests that neither the trials of inanimate objects or any of the later animal trials had anything to do with preventative justice. Whether or not you find Humphrey's conclusion convincing (its fairly unsubstantiated imo), it's no doubt an interesting and unique way to look at the bizarre world of animal/inanimate object trials.

I didn't like the actual writing that much.