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This week: Centuries of Beastly OccurrencesEdited by: Shannon
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Welcome to the Short Stories Newsletter. I am Shannon and I'm your editor this week.
Keep reading for your chance to claim an exclusive trinket!
“In the loveliest town of all where the houses were white and high and the elm trees were green and higher than the houses where the front yards were wide and pleasant and the back yards were bushy and worth finding out about, where the streets sloped down to the stream and the stream flowed quietly under the bridge, where the lawns ended in orchards and the orchards ended in fields and the fields ended in pastures and the pastures climbed the hill and disappeared over the top toward the wonderful wide sky, in this loveliest of all towns Stuart stopped to get a drink of sarsaparilla.” ~ E.B. White, Stuart Little
Some of my favorite characters are anthropomorphic animals: Stuart Little, Snoopy, Winnie-the-Pooh, Snowball, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, and Mr. Snuffleupagus, just to name a few. We love to anthropomorphize our furry and feathered friends. Just check out the children's section of every bookstore or watch any Disney movie. We adore rats who cook ratatouille, cats who exclaim "Sufferin' succotash!" and hunny-loving bears "of very little brain."
PETA and other animal-rights organizations aren't a twentieth century phenomenon. In fact, centuries ago animals were all but considered human with rights to legal representation and fair trials. But rights come with responsibility, and for six hundred years (12th-18th century) animals were arrested, tried, and oftentimes punished or put to death for their crimes.
I touched on this topic back in May of 2018 with "Medieval Animal Trials" but I want to delve a little deeper today.
"For centuries, the courts of France, Italy, Switzerland, and other nearby countries tried pigs, dogs, rats, grasshoppers, and snails for crimes against people, property, and God. These animal trials were of two kinds: secular suits against individual creatures who had maimed or killed humans; and ecclesiastic cases against vermin like mice and locusts, who were excommunicated for their grain-related crimes" (1).
It seems ridiculous now, but swine were hanged, locusts were banished, and mules were subjected to the rack for crimes against humanity. People believed that not only do animals have personalities and character (or lack thereof), they also have free will and know right from wrong. Therefore, animals run amok should be held accountable when they knowingly break the law.
"It was not uncommon for an animal defendant to be imprisoned both during the trial and while awaiting execution of the punishment. Indeed, animal and human criminals were sometimes kept in the same prisons. In 1408, in Pont de Larche (France), a pig accused of killing a child was kept in the town’s prison for more than three weeks until the infanticidal animal was hanged. A receipt shows that the jailer charged two deniers tournois a day for the pig’s board, 'the same as for boarding a man, thus placing the porker, even in respect to its maintenance, on a footing of perfect equality with the human prisoners'" (2).
Even today wild animals that attack humans are often put down, typically by Fish and Game. Biologists say once a bear, mountain lion, or other wild animal gets a taste for human flesh it will continue to stalk and kill them. Domesticated animals that attack humans are also likely to be euthanized, but without the pomp and circumstance of times past.
"The idea of the animal as human can be seen in 1386, when in Falaise, France, they convicted another pig of murdering an infant. Before its execution, the beast was dressed in a waistcoat, gloves, pair of drawers and a human mask on her head, and was chained up before it was hanged. The local government paid ten sous and ten deniers to deliver this spectacle, including buying the hangman a new pair of gloves" (3).
These beastly occurrences just go to show that truth, in all its ridiculousness, is often stranger than fiction.
Do you think animals should be granted the same rights as humans? Have you written a story about an anthropomorphic protagonist? Do you have a tale to tell about medieval animal trials? Share your thoughts, comments, and creations by responding to this newsletter and I will share them in my next edition.
P.S. Every registered author who shares their ideas and/or creative endeavors relating to or inspired by this week's topic will receive an exclusive trinket. I will retire this month's limited-edition trinket at 11:59 p.m. WDC time on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, when my next short stories newsletter goes live.
“There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems.
It is summed up in a single word: MAN.” ~ George Orwell, Animal Farm
1. When Societies Put Animals on Trial
2. The Historical and Contemporary Prosecution and Punishment of Animals
3. Medieval Animal Trials
Thank you for reading.
The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals
I hope you enjoy this week's featured selections. I occasionally feature static items by members who are no longer with us; some have passed away while others simply aren't active members. Their absence doesn't render their work any less relevant, and if it fits the week's topic I will include it.
Thank you, and have a great week!
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The following is in response to "Operation Underground Railroad" :
WakeUpAndLive~starts new novel writes: I was in total shock over the number of 800,000 missing children. Unbelievable but a fact, apparently. Thanks for your informative newsletter on where those kids end up. It's heartbreaking!
BIG BAD WOLF Is Thankful writes: There is always one story or another.
Redtowrite writes: I sent an e-mail to you about the stories and poems I have written. This is one of the most current ones. Have a wonderful creative and safe day. ~ Kat "The Weight of Hate" [E]
Jeff | R.I.P. Mom writes: Human trafficking is a terrible scourge in society. I took a number of social studies classes in college, and read a number of books on the topic since, and it's devastating to read about not just the problem of trafficking itself (which is abhorrent all on its own), but also the societal conditions connected to human trafficking that both facilitate and exacerbate the problem. One of the things that I found truly disturbing was the fact that abduction-style trafficking accounts for only a small percentage of all human trafficking cases. It's far more often the case where a family member exposes them to that world for various reasons, or where the child is a runaway and gets involved with traffickers in an attempt to survive on their own. It's absolutely heartbreaking.
Beacon - The Reindeer writes: Hi there, I do like your newsletter and you always bring up situations that we need to talk about and most people today don't talk about Human Trafficking. These are real situations that we need to talk to our kids about because they can know how to protect themselves, if a parent isn't with them. As parents, we need to have good communication to our kids because I think having a conversation with our kids is a good idea and it will open a lot of things between parents and kids plus have a close relationship as well.
Mara ♣ McBain writes: The numbers you shared here are STAGGERING and sick. Thank you for opening our eyes.
A while back I did write a story about a human trafficking victim and her struggles to assimilate back into society. "Damaged Goods"
KingsSideCastle writes: Human Trafficking is a disturbing topic and it is particularly sad to hear that it is rising amidst the pandemic. I have a lot of admiration and respect for Tim Ballard and Operation Underground Railroad. I am thankful *knock on wood* that I don't have any personal experiences to share involving kidnapping. However my aunt who grew up in another country where human trafficking was an established fear would warn me about it when I was visiting her. She encouraged me to keep an eye on my younger brothers in crowded places as children were known to be kidnapped and enslaved. It is a serious problem.
￦eb￦itching thru the Snow! writes: Shannon this nl really hit me hard when I read it today. It was just a couple nights ago that I reported a child exploitation Twitter Account. I am sick to the core over this. It's flaunted there right under our noses, if you happen upon this type of account. God help those children. Today, Twitter finally responded and removed the account. Yes, the account is removed -- one of who knows how many out there. But the child shown there ... What's to become of her?
Lilli ☕ writes: The topic of Missing and Exploited Children is terrifying and needs to be discussed more, and more openly. Thank you for this informative, emotional, but necessary, newsletter.
Brian K Compton writes: Very well researched and written article with links about the growing number of child abductions. With our littlest one, we worried about this for years. Not like it was growing up for me.
It has produced the oddest worries from her that she's been followed by men with bluetooth earbuds through department stores.
Fortunately, there are amber alerts cellphone users can subscribe to. But, likely does little to help.
dog pack:saving4 premium renew writes: I'm glad you shared the information in your NL about human trafficking. There is much more to this than the public knows. When you are able to check out other news sources and you'll find additional information. Human trafficking has been a part of history almost from the beginning of time. It's cad enough that humans are taken but worse that infants and young children are taken and subjected to horrors are almost beyond belief. Sadly this is a result of not enough publicity,too much distraction, the belief it won't happen to me, more.
dragonwoman writes: Although slavery today may be not specifically targeted at blacks, we cannot kid ourselves that slavery is no more. It has just moved further out of our consciousness or we are proving what black slaves always knew, things only change when the people rise and change them, all people! And if you ignore history, it will repeat itself ad infinitum.
sindbad writes: Hi, Shannon. This is indeed a intriguing article on mysterious events happening in our life. I remember when l was 6years old and stayed in Red fort..a 400year old fort and a national heritage. We had unexplained shrieks a soldier's footsteps that were unexplained happened all the time. My mother was pregnant and we were staying in a 300years old bungalow, and she always saw movements or felt unexplained touch. It was a scary and yet challenging time in my young days. We had a dog it was always barking on unexplained things and all. I have all these vague memories of things that happened 45 years ago. This article did bring all those memories alive. ~ sindbad
Clear Diamond writes: What sparked the very first concept of this?
eyestar~catching up writes: Oh My gosh! that is a huge number of children. I knew a little about it and agree it is about time to bring it forward. Now is the time for hidden to become known. I can't imagine knowing kids who disappeared..it would be a haunting query for sure. Thanks for sharing the videos too. The name of the group is perfect as I am sure many have heard of the original one. Well written with heart!
Jeannie🦃 writes: It does concern me too that our main street media doesn't cover anything that has to do with 'Missing and Exploited Children' which should be front and center on all the news channels. Nada, they're like an echo chamber, each reporting on the same boring scripted news which I don't watch anymore, I get most of my news on YouTube channel like One American News Network, etc.
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