GREAT BRITAIN: The Cat & the Birch

Beneath the impartial face of British Justice lies a streak of legal ruthlessness: through the centuries, Britons have found reasons for flogging people. Last week they were again debating the merits of the "cat" and the "birch."

In the 18th and early 18th centuries, flogging was prescribed 1) for anyone dunning an ambassador, 2) for a person slaughtering a horse without a license, 3) for any "incorrigible rogue," such as a man twice guilty of fortune telling or indecent exposure, 4) for pulling a gun in the presence of a sovereign. In the...

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