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November 05, 2012

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Barry Freed

Did any of the much speculated upon J**** S*****e masks show up in the tat shops for Halloween?

jamie

Nary a one. But I'm pretty sure they will. It's part of how we will eventually assimilate him.

Igor Belanov

I think S****e has already turned into history's greatest villain, topping even Hitler. As an unfortunate forced to listen to Radio 2 at work, I heard the cretin Jeremy Vine asking someone why they had made a Lance Armstrong effigy for their local bonfire. "Why not J****y S****e?" he suggested.

ajay

Fawkes, at least, was given a trial under normal criminal law, in public, with a jury.

Richard J

Shame about the whole agonising torture bit.

(Incidentally, we know quite well when the last public execution was, but is there a point when torture stopped being a public and admitted part of the British crime investigation procedure, and instead became falling down stairs?)

Phil

Well, there wasn't a police force as we know it before 1829, so there's that. Also, questioning after arrest is a really new thing - not post-PACE new, but certainly post-WWI if not later. People were still "helping police with their inquiries" well into the 1970s - and duffing up somebody who's formally free to walk at any time is a bit more challenging.

Besides, as I understand it torture had already been abolished when the court of Star Chamber was created - Star Chamber brought it back in.

Malformed question, basically.

ajay

Besides, as I understand it torture had already been abolished when the court of Star Chamber was created - Star Chamber brought it back in.

As an investigative tool? Or as a punishment?

Chris Williams

I think that routinised torture ended at the end of the C17th, probably as one of many outcomes of the fractured politics of the 1670s-80s, when the ruling class twigged that this kind of stuff could happen to _them_ <- NB Not my period, half-arsed theory which I throw at all the early modern legal scholars in order to see if they agree wholeheartedly or can point out why I'm wrong. So far, neither.

AFAIR, the last bit of routinised and admitted torture was, bizarrely, pressing prisoners with heavy weights to make sure that they entered a plea, which might have made it to the beginning of the C18th. Will look up to confirm if, er, pressed.

Marc Mulholland

The 'five techniques' (sleep deprivation, hooding, bread and water diet, 'white noise' [at very high volume], stress posture) were authorised for interrogation of high value internees in Northern Ireland, 1971. It wasn't defined as torture however (nor brutality, as that apparently requires the interrogator to take sadistic pleasure - so said a report commissioned by HMG).

guthrie

I've seen right wing americans argue that what their country has been doing to innocent people since 2002 or so isn't torture precisely because the stuff we did in NI in the 70's wasn't defined as torture. Fuckers.
Oddly enough they never produce any evidence to show that torture works, whereas there's plenty of evidence to show that proper careful interrogation works well.

Richard J

Marc - the NI example was very much on my mind, hence trying to scope it out (albeit poorly) of the question, as, TBH, so was most colonial policing. I was more asking about the point Chris makes, i.e. a typical scrote up before a judge would have been subjected to torture as a routine part of the prosecution procedure.

Chris Williams

Yeah, sorry Marc, I was very much thinking about practice in the UK civil system rather than under states of exception. Also, I was not counting unoffical torture by investigators (e.g. Rhino Whip scandal). Keywords: 'routinised and admitted'.

For the benefits of careful interrogation, check out the recent R4 prog on the Luftwaffe's chief debriefer by my mate Julian Putkowski LNT.

Richard J

For the benefits of careful interrogation, check out the recent R4 prog on the Luftwaffe's chief debriefer by my mate Julian Putkowski LNT.

Chris Duffy's book on German experience of the Somme makes a similar point about how German interrogators, through means of a nice cup of tea and a carefully friendly ear, managed to get far more out of their prisoners than the latter thought.

(I do have to wonder how much useful information was got out of tongues on the Eastern Front. Russian and German memoirs tend to be carefully vague on this point, as well as what happened to them after capture, in a style familiar to anyone who's read the last chapter of Backlands.)

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