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Friday, January 4, 2013

Capital punishment ~ heard of Topsy ?!?


Luna Park was an amusement park at Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City from 1903 to 1944.  The second iteration of Luna Park opened on May 29, 2010.  Heard of Topsy ? 

Many would advocate that capital punishment should be done away with.  In this democracy, there is no grievous danger of irreversibility of an innocent being executed  as the legal process is so elaborate that it allowed even Kasab all possible avenues including mercy petition.  The Nation follows a pattern after the introduction of the rarest of rare doctrine.  Amid high drama, the Delhi Police filed the chargesheet in the gangrape case in a Saket court. The chargesheet — of which the operative part is said to run into 33 pages — names five accused and charges them with 12 offences under the Indian Penal Code. The sixth accused has been identified as a minor and will be tried by the Juvenile Justice Board. All for that brutal and insensitive act against a young paramedical student  on 16th Dec. 

At the time of outrage at National capital and elsewhere, the Western world views it I a different perspective.  NY Times reports that the incident has cast a cold light on how badly India treats its women. In its editorial the paper states that this reprehensible crime reflects an alarming trend in India, which basks in its success as a growing business and technological mecca but tolerates shocking abuse of women. Reeling out statistics, it states that those are just the reported cases. Many victims, shamed into silence and callously disregarded by a male-dominated power structure, never go to the authorities to seek justice. Women are routinely blamed for inciting the violence against them.

Topsy was a circus elephant killed by electrocution on January 4, 1903.  The elephant  belonged to the Forepaugh Circus and spent the last years of her life at Coney Island's Luna Park. Because she had killed three men in as many years (including a severely abusive trainer who attempted to feed her a litcigarette), Topsy was deemed a threat to people by her owners and killed by electrocution on January 4, 1903, at the age of 28.  Inventor Thomas Edison is said to have captured the event on film.

A means of killing initially discussed was hanging. However, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals protested and other ways were considered. Edison then suggested electrocution with alternating current, which had been used for the execution of humans since 1890. Topsy was fed carrots laced with 460 grams of potassium cyanide before the deadly current from a 6,600-volt AC source was sent coursing through her body, partly as a demonstration of how "unsafe" his competitor's (George Westinghouse) alternating current design was. In Edison's film she topples to the ground and is seen to move for several seconds. The event was witnessed by an estimated 1,500 people and Edison's film of the event was seen by audiences throughout the United States.

Some web search for Topsy might lead to that of the heroine in Aadukalam, Taapsee who debuted in  2010 Telugu film Jhummandi Naadam directed by Raghavendra Rao.

India was among the 39 countries that voted against a UN General Assembly draft resolution which called for abolishing the death penalty, saying every nation had the "sovereign right" to determine its own legal system.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
4th Jan 2013. 

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