animals in society, inspiration / literature
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About criminal animals. E.P. Evans (1906) The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals

I have been adding some books that have been inspirational to me to an album on my facebook account, and I will be adding them here as well. Some are books that I have read a long time ago, some are more recent works.
I also want to note that it’s not because a book is featured here, that I agree with everything that is written in it . Or that I find all books equally good!

This is an oldy (1906). Historian E.P Evans gives a detailled account of cases throughout history where animals who had ‘murdered’ or attacked humans, or animal ‘pests’ or infestations, were prosecuted (sometimes even with an appointed lawyer), and when found guilty, executed or excommunicated.

Inside the book. Left page shows etching with title ” Execution of a Sow’. Right page: Title + editor + author. + Etching with scene from medieval life, several houses + animals roaming between them. Pig at the feet of a baby in crib.

I used this book in my doctoral research and wrote a chapter about ‘criminal animals’ in my PhD (2002, Anthopocentrism and Speciesism in Contemporary Criminology).

Many people dismiss the prosecution and execution of animals as a bizarre and outdated practice from medieval times. But it is still practiced today, although not formally recognised as such.
Other animals are expected to live by our societal norms, and when they transgress them, are often executed.
Examples can for instance be found in the killing of dogs who have wounded people, of animals used for entertainment who have escaped their confinement and supposedly pose a danger for humans, of wild animals entering ‘our’ habitat and deemed a nuisance, of animal companions without the proper ID papers and deemed illegal (and unwanted).

E.P. Evans (1906) The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals (edition 1998, The Lawbook Exchange).

From Amazon:
This pioneering work collects an amazing assemblage of court cases in which animals have been named as defendants–chickens, rats, field mice, bees, gnats, and (in 34 recorded instances) pigs, among others– providing insight into such modern issues as animal rights, capital punishment, and social and criminal theory. Evans suggests an intriguing distinction between trials of specific animals or particular crimes, such as the “murder” of an infant by a pig, and trials for larger, catastrophic events, such as plagues and infestations. In the latter
case, Evans suggests a parallel to witchcraft.

Edward Payson Evans 
[1831-1917], a historian, linguist and associate of Ralph Waldo Emerson, taught at the University of Michigan before moving to Germany, where he became a specialist in Oriental languages and German literature. A prolific author, his other Animal-related books are Animal Symbolism in Art and Literature and Animal Symbolism in Ecclesiastical Architecture, both published in 1887.

CONTENTS Introduction 1. Bugs and Beasts before the Law 2. Mediæval and Modern Penology Appendix Bibliography Index

1 Comment

  1. I’ve read about the appalling execution of an elephant by electrocution in 1903, although Thomas Edison was not present at the killing, Edison use to pay children 25 cents to bring him stray dogs and he would experiment on them to kill them with electrical shock. Such a cruel man! This unfortunate elephant was abused for circus “entertainment” – very sad how people are so barbaric.

    Vegan is the future!
    Choose compassion!
    ❤ carmen

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