Although mainstream economic models have been discredited why aren't political scientists and sociologists offering alternative views?
April 24, 2012
Yes, I know.
A tightening feeling at the nape of your neck.
A grizzly topic.
Almost as grizzly as politics.
But injustice is injustice.
For more than 200 years his name has been associated with one of the most diabolical instruments of death ever created.
But the truth, alas, is far different.
Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, who led reforms against capital punishment, was only trying to be a nice guy.
Axmen, you see, could be horribly inaccurate and some victims even paid these sometimes unskilled practitioners a gold coin so they'd do a neat job.
Guillotin, who became a deputy in the Assemblee Constituante, proposed the creation of a machine as a compromise that he hoped at least would make executions less gruesome.
Not that they'd ever be fun.
On Oct. 10, 1789, during the second day of debate on France's penal code, he offered six articles to the new Legislative Assembly.
One of them said "the criminal shall be decapitated; this will be done solely by means of a simple mechanism." Furthermore, he asked for the design of a "machine that beheads painlessly."
That's the only connection between Dr. Guillotin and the implement that would come to define the French Revolution and forever be associated with his name.
Antoine Louis, secretary of the Academy of Surgeons, was actually charged with coming up with just such a device.
He turned to Tobias Schmidt, a German harpsichord maker, to make it happen.
An estimated 40,000 prisoners would eventually meet their demise at the hands of Schmidt's invention, including Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
But it wasn’t called the Schmidt or the Louis, as it should have been.
Embarrassed by their association with the guillotine, Guillotins' family asked the government to change the name; it refused.
So the Guillotins changed their name.
Too late for the man who suffered shame and humiliation the rest of his days.
As the Bard himself noted, “Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit."
Once lost, you never get it back.