Mon 18 Nov, 2002 02:30 pm
"Court Punishes Vandals with Donkey Rides
Mon Nov 18, 8:59 AM ET
TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian court ordered five vandals to ride around their neighborhood on donkeys, facing backwards, in a bid to take them down a peg or two, the daily Entekhab newspaper said on Sunday.
The court also sentenced the five young men to be lashed and to an unspecified spell in jail after local people in a south Tehran district filed complaints against them ranging from breaking shop windows to gang fights.
The paper carried a picture of one of the glum-faced men, perched on the rear of a donkey, surrounded by curious onlookers.
Public humiliation of criminals is a common punishment in Iran's Islamic legal system. Sometimes lashes are carried out in public and thieves occasionally have their heads shaved."
Although I certainly would not advocate lashing, the concept of the donkey ride intrigues me. Do you think that some sort of public shaming would be advantageous in dealing with certain petty crimes, like vandalism?
If so, what sort of punishment do you think would be effective? What do you think that shaming would accomplish? If not, why?
I believe there already is some shaming going on in the US - there are some creative sentences wherein the perps are required to do stuff like take out an ad in the local paper, confessing to whatever the heck it is they did.
Eike von Repgow collected in the early 13th century some such sentences in Germany, called the "Sachsenspiegel" (German: "Saxon Mirror").
It was written originally in Latin and later in German and showed little Roman influence, largely because Roman law was still virtually unknown at that time and had not penetrated German law.
The Sachsenspiegel was used by many towns as the model for their constitutions and codes. Magdeburg's, known as the Magdeburger Recht, was copied throughout Germany and eastern Europe. Although some of its provisions were assailed by theologians in the 14th century, its influence was felt in German territories for more than 300 years, until the reception of Roman law in the 16th century.
Now, since we have Roman Law, such would be impossible here.
Exposure to public mockery seems an attractive punishment, but it's telling that no democracy uses it.
The only other two examples that come into my mind are:
1) The parading (with dunce hat and everything) of supposed "enemies of the people" during the outrageous Chinese Cultural Revolution in 1966-1970.
2) The exposure (with big posters of their faces in campus) of students who cheated at their exams in Havana's Polytechnical University (1979).