Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Abattoir Road 

Digby excerpts the following from the Los Angeles Times:
"Today they proved themselves that the trial and the execution were mere retaliation and not justice," said a mourner from Tikrit, near Al Auja, who gave his name only as Abu Mohammed, a customary nickname. "It is clear now against whom we should retaliate."

Which reminded me of this:

[...] "How often must I tell you - I do not wish to make it quicker for these... these villians! They are being hanged as a punishment, Mr. Cheeseman -- it is not my design to make it easy for them! Let them suffer -- and the longer the better! Will it atone for the atrocities they have wrought? No, not if they were flayed alive! You hear that, you rascals?" He shook his fist at them. "You know now the price of mutiny and murder -- in a moment you shall pay it, and you may thank whatever God you worship that you obtain a merciful death -- you who did not scruple to torture and defile the innocent!" He was raving by now, with both hands in the air, and then he noticed again the dead fellow lying in the road, and roared to the Sikhs to string him up as well, so that they should all hang together as a token of justice.[...]


He wasn't mad, I decided; he was just an ordinary little man suddenly at war.[...]


Then he solemnly told the Sikhs to haul away, and they tailed on the ropes and swung the pandies into the air, the fat one screeched horribly. He wasn't a mutineer, I was certain, but it probably wouldn't have been tactful to mention that just then. The others gasped and thrashed about, clutching at their halters -- now I saw why they hadn't tied their hands, for three of them managed to clutch the ropes and haul themselves up, while the others choked and turned blue and presently hung there, twitching and swaying gently in the sunlight. Everyone was craning to watch the struggles of the three who had got their hands on the ropes, pulling themselves up to take the choking strain off their necks; they kicked and screamed now, swinging wildly to and fro; you could see their muscles quivering with the appalling strain.


O'Toole pointed to the small sepoy, who had managed to pull himself well up his rope, getting his elbow in the bight of it, and was tugging at the noose with his other hand. One of the Sikhs sprang up to haul at his ankles, but Rowbotham barked an order and then, drawing his revolver, took careful aim and shot the sepoy through the body. The man jerked convulsively and then fell, his head snapping back as the rope tightened; someone laughed and sang out "Shame!" while another huzzaed, and then they all had their pistols out, banging away at the hanging figures which twitched and swung under the impact of the bullets.


They hanged away, until Rowbotham called a halt, and their frenzy died down; the smoking pistols were put away, and the column fell in, with flies buzzing thickly over the eight growing pools of blood beneath the bodies. I wasn't surprised to see the riders suddenly quiet now, their excitment all spent; they sat heavy in their saddles; breathing deeply, while Cheeseman checked their dressing. It's the usual way, with civilians suddenly plunged into war and given the chance to kill; for the first time, after years spent pushing pens and counting pennies, they're suddenly free of all restraint, away from wives and families and responsibility, and able to indulge their animal instincts. They go a little crazy after a while, and if you can convince 'em they're doing the Lord's work, they soon start enjoying it. There's nothing like a spirit of righteous retribution for kindling cruelty in a decent, kindly, God fearing-man -- I, who am not one, and have never needed any virtuous excuse for my bestial indulgences, can tell you that. Now, having let off steam, they were sated, and some a little shocked at themselves, just as if they'd been whoring for the first time -- which, of course, was something they'd never have dreamed of doing, proper little Christians that they were.

Feel free to substitute Muslims for Christians in the passage above. Afterall, it makes - at least to me - for little difference. At least in this context.

excerpts above: Harry Flashman recounting the hanging of sepoy mutineers by vigilantes on the road from Meerut to Cawnpore (Kanpur, India) during the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857. Excerpt above from George MacDonald Fraser's novel Flashman in the Great Game.

4 Sepoy Rebellion, 1857

4 Cawnpore and Cawnpore massacre

4 Meerut / massacre at

"As long as there are slaughterhouses... there will be battlefields" ~ Leo Tolstoy


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