1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Making someone disabled as a punishment

Discussion in 'World Building' started by BloodyHellSausage, Aug 14, 2017.

  1. BloodyHellSausage

    BloodyHellSausage Troubadour

    128
    7
    18
    An idea I came up with is that someone who committed a serious crime, if so sentenced, could choose to be blinded or deafened as a punishment. For the eyes, I was thinking that instead of poking them out, a chemical could be used that preserves the appearence of the eyes, except making them cloudy like the eyes of real blind people.

    What do you think of a punishment like that? Do you think it's cruel? I'm also curious as to what actual blind or deaf people would think of the punishment, there's no one I know of who is blind or deaf.

    Those are people with normal sight and hearing, I haven't decided on an alternative punishment for blind or deaf people. Some blind people know echolocation, which involves "seeing" the world by making a sound and hearing the echos across the place.

    I learned Iran has punishments that involve making prisoners blind or deaf with acid. I learned of a prisoner sentenced to be made blind before, but not deaf, and I guess my idea was subconciously influenced by that. I believe my idea is different in that convicted criminals are given a choice. What do you think?
    5 prisoners in Iran await sentences to be blinded, made deaf with acid
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    11,105
    3,467
    413
    I think most audiences would consider it cruel. The extent to which they consider it cruel could depend on the severity of the crime. Also, there are aspects of the fantasy world that could lessen that feeling--for example someone who committed heinous magical crimes in a world where magic requires sight and hearing might be made blind and deaf as a punishment, and the audience may be more likely to consider it justifiable as a specific deterrent.
     
  3. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    1,323
    666
    113
    Well, it does seem a little on the cruel side, I would not wish it on anyone. I do, however, think such a punishment would not be unheard of in many places, or in many different times around this world of ours.

    For a choice, it would seem not to matter much which they choose, both are awful. Individuals may find they have a preference, but others may find having a choice even more cruel than just having a sentence handed out. What can you do? Sometimes awful things happen.

    In a story, I don't think I would care about this too much, unless it was something that mattered to the story. If a main character was given such a choice and then had to deal with the consequences, it would seem more important than just there is a bad nation over there and they do bad things. I am sure getting captured by Orcs is no picnic either--or maybe it is and your eyeballs feature prominently in it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
  4. BloodyHellSausage

    BloodyHellSausage Troubadour

    128
    7
    18
    Well, for alternative punishments for disabled people, I would not automatically require that a deaf person lose his sight, or a blind person lose his hearing, because I think that would be unfair for them. Such a punishment would also be impossible for deafblind people, if they somehow managed to commit a serious crime, or a series of them.
     
  5. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    1,323
    666
    113
    Just sayin, if you are in a place that has such types of punishments anyway, compassion for the guilty does not seem to be in high regard. Why care about their troubles after the fact? Isn't the punishment serving a purpose? Maybe the extra cruelty of making one both blind and deaf will serve as a greater reminder that one should obey the law.
     
  6. BloodyHellSausage

    BloodyHellSausage Troubadour

    128
    7
    18
    In my view, perhaps a nation has cruel punishments, but they would not want to be seen as discriminating against disabled people for political reasons. That's why I'm trying to think of alternative punishments.

    If it's cruel, I personally think many people would find being disabled is preferable to being dead, so maybe it's not as cruel as the death penalty, which many nations have. If I had to choose, I'd be deaf.
     
  7. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    1,323
    666
    113
    I don't know, I could see someone preferring to be dead than to have acid dripped on their eyes...
     
  8. BloodyHellSausage

    BloodyHellSausage Troubadour

    128
    7
    18
    I guess so. But maybe in my world, it's a non-painful "acid." Who knows?
     
  9. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    1,323
    666
    113
    I wonder what you would get if you went back to the Iranian man and asked if he would prefer death, or to have acid dripped in his other eye.
     
  10. Russ

    Russ Istar

    2,163
    1,127
    163
    It's kind of a weird approach to the question.

    The type of punishments that a society has is related to what that society values, how it is constructed, ideas of morality etc. The way the question is asked without any context is really not going anywhere.

    Cruel is a relative word. Sure to the modern western mind of just about everyone posting on here that punishment would be cruel. But in the middle ages or in Saudi Arabia today it might not be.

    So how does it fit in the world of your story? What impact does it have on your plot and characters?
     
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    5,482
    3,482
    313
    Blinding was done in the ancient world, but usually for very specific reasons. One was to blind anyone who might have claim to a royal throne, since a blind man would not be able to rule (or so it was believed).

    In general, though, blinding is a poor option, for the victim is now a burden on society, which means you risk alienating people needlessly. Branding is much more effective. So is cutting off an ear or a finger or hand. Do a bit of research on the history of corporal punishment and you'll get plenty of good information.
     
  12. Zeppo

    Zeppo Dreamer

    21
    5
    3
    I think I would mainly be concerned with how is administering the punishment, who is receiving, and how the individual should be viewed by the reader. An ambivalent King enacting harsh punishment vs a Hero main character who executes the punishment. It is certainly an interesting idea, and is true to history, but remembering that your readers mostly have modern sensibilities.
     
  13. BloodyHellSausage

    BloodyHellSausage Troubadour

    128
    7
    18
    I have little idea, because my world right now is just a collection of scrap ideas. I think I might have to experience real-life foreign cultures to be truly inspired.
     
  14. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,506
    3,026
    313
    I agree with Skip.Knox, the punishment isn't a smart one for widespread use because the blind and the deaf would become beggars and couldn't work anymore. Death would be better from the king's perspective, and so would a lighter punishment.

    The only benefits of making someone blind is to humiliate them and to let them be a symbol of how horrible the crime they committed was. For example, they were leading a political movement, and the king wants to crush their spirits. Humiliate them and make them a public symbol.

    But in general, without any context, I think it's a poor choice.
     
  15. elemtilas

    elemtilas Sage

    362
    156
    43
    Well, first you need to forget about your readers' modern Christian / Western cultural expectations and perspectives. Ask instead if this kind of punishment fits with the culture the story is set in. If the answer is "well, yes, as a matter of fact, it does fit!", then the discussion is moot. It doesn't matter how cruel we out here find such punishments. We as readers accept that the countries and cultures we're reading about are not the same as our own. Different strokes for different blokes.

    Clearly, many "modern" countries impose what we'd call barbaric and inhuman punishments on people. You mention Iran and someone else mentioned Saudi. Many countries don't do so well when it comes to treating people like human beings. Even the death penalty in the US I personally find to be similarly barbaric. (Though I find a lifetime of confinement to be even more so, and, if given the choice, would gladly choose the needle over life in prison.)

    Another question I'd ask is choose deafening versus . . . what exactly? You don't make it clear if the alternative is even worse. I mean, does the judge openly say "today's your lucky day! You get to choose between being blinded and having your nuts slowly ground to paste in a screw-vise!" I think few men, at least, would willingly choose days upon days of excruciating torture of a testicular nature.

    In a culture where existence is already brutal, dark and meaningless and life itself is relatively cheap, well, no I don't think what you're proposing is particularly cruel. It's certainly cruel from our perspective because we expect modern culture to be increasingly rooted upon Christian foundations as hinted at above.

    I can say that in many cultures in The World, the court system would suffer no pangs of guilt whatsoever over imposing such a (relatively mild) punishment as you suggest! Here are a couple examples from the Law Code of Angera, devised by none other than that merry old soul, Old King Crowelle himself:

    * Ye Doctors of Physick All do quake who do harm to any Man, lest harm be done to thee! For His High Majesty has said this: i. When a Doctor of Physic shall kill his patient while his patient shall be in his care, the Doctor which killed the patient shall have the joints of his hands impaled with fine spikes. ii. When a Doctor of Physic shall kill a man his wife, the Doctor shall excuse himself and at least feign sorrow.

    * Quake with dread ye men of arts and musics who do harm to any man, lest harm be done to thee! For His High Majesty has said this: When a musical director shall injure a member of the band with the wand, he shall be stuffed into a bronze drum and it shall be beaten upon until that the musical director becomes deaf.

    * Woe betide the man that harm himself, lest further harm befall him! For His High Majesty has said this: i. the penalty for such a man as the one who has been the cause of a self mutilation by the left hand is for the other hand to be removed in a manner liable to cause much grinding of bones and great howls of pain. ii. however, the penalty for such a man as the one who has been the cause of a self mutilation by the right hand is for the other hand to be immersed in oil which shall be heated until that hand is right crispy, and then it shall be severed, and then the man shall be compelled to devour his own left hand.
     
  16. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    2,595
    1,866
    163
    Assuming it fits with the story, I don't see it as unnecessarily cruel or crazy or a bad idea. The middle ages was filled with horrible punishments and torture strategies, like chopping hands off for stealing, pulling out eyeballs with hot pinchers, cutting out tongues, etc. All that stuff of course led to people who couldn't work, but it wasn't considered a drain on society because at that time there were no real social welfare systems except the church. The king didn't care. Being homeless and destitute and starving was all part of the 'punishment'.
     
  17. BloodyHellSausage

    BloodyHellSausage Troubadour

    128
    7
    18
    If you're talking about alternative punishments for disabled people, then I said I did not want to make it unfair for disabled people, so I highly doubt the alternative punishment is even worse. In other words, no. However, some alternative punishments I came up with are marking an offender somewhere on their bodies, or, being given a normal punishment because they are disabled.

    That's right, maybe they treat disabled people with leniency, just like out world, I would assume. In my view, making a normal offender disabled is probably a rare and exceptional punishment, just like how sentencing someone to death is rare and exceptional in many or most countries with the death penalty.

    I will state again that my world is a collection of scrap ideas, so I haven't come close to working out the criminal justice system. I thought of prisons, but I considered it might be more interesting if prisons did not exist. From what I read, I think many places in history did not have prisons as we know them today.
     
  18. BloodyHellSausage

    BloodyHellSausage Troubadour

    128
    7
    18
    So, if I'm reading correctly, doctors who kill patients, even accidently, should have their hands impaled with spikes, but if a doctor kills someone's wife, (if I understand correctly,) he gets off and just has to pretend to be sorry? Musicians who injure their own band members with "the wand," (does that refer to magic?) are placed inside a bronze drum that is beaten until the musician is deaf, and psychiatric patients who engage in self-harm are essentially just mocked by being harmed even further? It's not in standard English, so I find it a bit hard to understand.

    This is off-topic, so let's save prolonged discussion for another thread, but I just want confirmation.
     
  19. elemtilas

    elemtilas Sage

    362
    156
    43
    I would just hazard the guess, and I could be wrong about this, that the kind of culture in which it's no big deal to handicap someone (by blinding or deafening) as a routine punishment probably will not give a fiddler's fart for the plight of actually handicapped people in general. And probably has a pretty rough and tumble idea of what is "fair" anyway.

    A strict, if senseless, reading of the blinding law would simply compel the judge to order an acid bath for already blind eyes. It'll still hurt, but the punishment won't have any further effect. But, it's the LAW. So there is that.

    Possibly.

    Right. In many parts of The World, prisons-as-we-know-and-love-them do not exist at all. And those places that do have prisons, well, they're pretty different. In the Empire of Auntimoany, "prison" is actually a workhouse system. For certain crimes, punishment comes in the form of labour, reforming of the individual and useful for society. The labour you're put to is determined by your ordinary work. A cabinet maker gets put to making furniture of various kinds. Society benefits from keeping a bad guy off the streets; the bad guy benefits from honest work and reforming sermons.

    For capital crimes that don't warrant a public execution --- perhaps a last swing on the old gibbet or a last dance on stage at the relatively new Elektrodrome --- there is the option for life imprisonment in the Halls of Amouraz. The Halls are a lovely old ivy draped brick palace set in an idyllic urban park, utterly windowless, where the convict is walled into his cell and well, that's that. Talk about minimum security, there's not even a lock on the front door! The welcoming arms of the angels of security and justice are bit of a nice touch; though the big joke about the place is that there's a sign out front that says "way in", but no signs anywhere inside that say "way out".

    Most crimes are punished first by fine, then by breaking, then outcasting, then death.
     
  20. elemtilas

    elemtilas Sage

    362
    156
    43
    Yep, that's the gist!

    While music can indeed affect thaumic fields, the "wand" in question isn't magical per se. Certainly related to the enchanter's staff, the musical wand is a nicely turned staff of dark hard wood, about four foot in length and tapering somewhat like a billiards cue. A nicely cast bronze mace-head with a bit of the end of the staff poking through at the wide end provides a good thumping beat on floors of wood or marble. The thin end may be tipped in silver or bone (for preference, a nicely tapered ulna from a Daine). Many conductors like a couple brightly coloured feathers just below the bone tip.

    It's not just psychiatric patients (no such concept in The World); anyone who injures himself breaks the law.

    Old King Crowelle might have been a jolly old soul, but it was a jollity borne of indifferent cruelty.

    Oh, and mockery --- yes indeed! And a cruel mockery it is, for even as he is being forced to consume his own hand, the man knows well the penalty for cannibalism...
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
Loading...

Share This Page