Demi and Abigail brought up the guillotine in their blogs. It’s an interesting contradiction. It is a horrific and violent form of execution, yet the whole point of it was to be humane and execute people without inflicting unnecessary pain. It’s associated primarily with the French Revolution, but apparently it was still in use in Germany and France in the 60s and 70s. I don’t know if it was in use on American soil, but since New Orleans was a French colony, it may have been.
Of course, my real interest in writing about the guillotine is that it was the title of one of my favorite songs of the past couple years:
I like that line “we got hella people, they got helicopters.” it gives a vision of failed democracy, that the state is no longer us, but them. And the vision seems to exist across the political spectrum, from the 99% Occupiers to the “we want our country back” Tea Partiers. The song was inspired by the Occupy movement, which as far as I know was largely nonviolent, but was met with state violence.
At some point, executions moved from out in public to behind prison walls. Is that because the perception of it was shifting from something the people were to something that was being done to the people? Maybe there’s a kind of a parallel in there.