Unusual, but not exactly cruel, punishment.
Writing can be dangerous, and I'm not referring here to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Powers that be, wherever they may be, don't like public criticism, and many
authors have discovered that criticizing a government can cost them dearly.
On this day, however, Daniel Defoe, best known as the author of Robinson Crusoe,
learned that some punishments can be considerably less frightening than they
appear to be.
It was in London on this day, in 1703 that Defoe suffered the public punishment
of being pilloried. (Considering that we're dealing with an event that took place
300 years ago, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that the various accounts are
somewhat inconsistent. Some sources claim that Defoe was in the pillory three
days running, from July 29 to July 31, whereas others claim that July 31 was the
starting, or only, date of the punishment. Yet others, perhaps intent on spoiling
our ability to enjoy a good story, claim the event never really happened.)
Defoe was imprisoned for publishing pamphlets highly critical of the church, attacking
it with an acerbic sense of humor. Part of his sentence was three days in a public
pillory - a punishment that usually included townspeople pelting the pilloried
prisoner with rotten food and stones. Defoe, however, was apparently popular with
the public, and was instead "pelted" with flowers, and toasts to his
health were raised. After the pillory session Defoe remained in prison for four
more months, so this was hardly a vacation, but there's no doubt that numerous
dissenters throughout history have met with much heavier punishment.
Go to: Why don't you write a book?