Modest punishments

Since the citizenry (as exhibited, for example, in blog comments following the incident at Seattle’s Critical Mass in July) is crying out for a vigilante response to the menace of bicyclists blocking traffic, I hear that state legislators have passed a bill declaring “inhibiting the free flow of traffic” to be a capital offense — punishable by cruel and unusual forms of the death penalty (like, for instance, having one’s bones crushed by a speeding car and then left to bleed to death in the middle of the road). Let’s see what kind of “appropriate” punishments have already been meted out just in the first few minutes after the new law’s passage:

double parking
Double parkers, like the violator being dealt with here, no longer receive “the Denver boot.” Instead, the “Spanish boot” was applied: “high boots made of spongy leather had been placed on the culprit’s feet, he was tied on to a table near a large fire, and a quantity of boiling water was poured on the boots, which penetrated the leather, ate away the flesh, and even dissolved the bones of the victim.”
(photo: toner/Flickr)

Tow Away Zone
For the crime of standing in a No Parking/No Standing/Tow Zone, the delivery truck driver was “estrapaded”: “they raised the victim, with two hundred and fifty pounds attached to his feet, to the ceiling by means of a capstan; he was then allowed to fall several times successively by jerks to the level of the ground, by which means his arms and legs were completely dislocated.”
(photo: Thingo/Flickr)

red light runner
The driver of this car, which ran a red light and caused a crash which tied up traffic, was executed by the wheel: “a rope was attached to each of the limbs of the criminal, one being bound round each leg from the foot to the knee, and round each arm from the wrist to the elbow. These ropes were then fastened to four bars, to each of which a strong horse was harnessed… These horses were first made to give short jerks; and when the agony had elicited heart-rending cries from the unfortunate man, who felt his limbs being dislocated without being broken, the four horses were all suddenly urged on with the whip in different directions…” You can guess how that ended.
(photo: SFPD via SF Weekly/The Snitch)

blocking the crosswalk
This driver drove past the stop line and into a crosswalk, thereby blocking the free flow of pedestrians through the intersection. The driver will be dragged “from the prison to the place of execution upon an hurdle or sled, where they are hanged till they be half dead, and then taken down, and quartered alive; after that, their members and bowels are cut from their bodies, and thrown into a fire, provided near hand and within their own sight, even for the same purpose.”
(photo: Brother Grimm/Flickr)

(Gory medieval execution details excerpted from The Middle Ages Website)