|14A036 Off With His Head by Jim Davies, 8/26/2014
Alice, so it is recorded in Lewis Carroll's tale of the Wonderland she explored, "had felt quite unhappy at the number of executions the Queen had ordered" and so was relieved when the King quietly assured everyone "You are all pardoned." It's a considerable tribute to the degree of civilization achieved by the somewhat-Christian British Empire that by 1865 the gruesome process of executing someone by removing his head could feature in a popular and amusing nonsense fable for children. Clearly, by that time and in that context, it was supposed that such a barbaric thing could not actually take place; it was the stuff of fairy stories.
Well, not exactly.
Under Queen Victoria at that very time, those convicted by government courts were being executed by hanging; and that continued until the 1950s. Is hanging more humane? - it can be debated. There's no blood, whereas beheading someone spills rather a lot. But it takes longer; several minutes, during some of which the victim is conscious and in pain. Beheading is quick, at least, so comparing well with the recent fiascos of "lethal injections" which left a number of American executees writhing in agony for up to forty minutes.
That well known "Defender of the [Roman Catholic] Faith" and founder and leader of the Church of England Henry VIII "did undoubtedly execute at will, burning or beheading two of his wives, twenty peers, four leading public servants, six close attendants and friends, one cardinal (John Fisher) and numerous abbots" during the 1500s, a mere four centuries before Carroll's Queen could be so cheerfully ridiculed.
Only 75 years before Alice entered the rabbit hole, about forty thousand people were beheaded by order of the government of neighboring France, after trials so casual as to last less than an hour; all for the crime of having been born an aristocrat.
80 years after the King issued his pardon agents of the government of Japan, a country with a long history of gentle and courteous culture, routinely beheaded prisoners who failed to obey the capricious orders of their captors.
So the horror, with which this month's gruesome beheading of journalist James Foley by the government of the new State of Islam was greeted, is contrived. There is ample precedent. All governments have to do is to enact a law specifying some conduct as a capital offense, then show that someone broke it, then chop off his head. The ISIS killers declared that anyone failing to convert to their brand of Islam would be executed, and those who broke that law were accordingly terminated; a price was placed on Foley's head, nobody paid it, so it was removed.
As Eric Margolis' brilliant article of August 23rd pointed out, on the very same day Foley was murdered, nineteen men were beheaded in Saudi Arabia for various crimes - one of them, "witchcraft." Yet nary a cheep of protest escaped Obama's lips. So if barbaric beheadings form a cassus belli, it's time for the FedGov to declare war on the Saudis; but, of course, they don't. It's merely a carefully selected excuse, to corral public support for whatever war the government wants to wage next.
Nor is this about religion, though I carry no brief for Muslims; Christian governments, as above, have sliced off many a cranium and the most famous is perhaps Vlad the Impaler, who not only cut off his enemies' heads but stuck them on fence posts pour encourager les autres. That was during his wars to repel Muslim Ottomans from Christian Romania.
Rather, the common factor in practising this atrocity is government.
When some group of people gains control over others in an area they may call a "country", those other people lose control of their lives. If they wish to live somewhere, they must pay the governing cabal a tribute or tax; for the cabal lays claim to every square meter of the area and will ultimately throw out of their homes any who refuse to pay it. If they wish to work for a living, they must share their earnings with the cabal, or else be prevented from working, or caged, or killed (by bullet or rope or guillotine.) It they wish to travel, they must obtain permission, or if to emigrate, they will be charged an exit tax. If they wish to make purchases, they must pay the cabal something extra. If they wish to sell, they must join its protection racket. And so on; their lives no longer belong to them, but are subject to government rule. It's what "govern" means; all the rest (benefits, protection, elections, bread, circuses, etc etc ad naus) is sugar coating on the poisoned pill. Any time the cabal want to pull the plug on a life, or sever a head, it does so.
Accordingly, the way to counter the barbaric Islamic State is not to make war on it (a head for a head leads only to a headless world) but to terminate government here (and hence, end all involvement in the Mid East and elsewhere.) Government is inherently unwilling of course to terminate itself, so you and I have to lend a hand. Here's how. Once it's done here, the rest of the world will catch on very fast... and beheadings will go where they belong: history's ashcan.