Crime, Punishment, and Civilityrnby Barry BaldwinrnDOIV’TrnPISTUBBrn^ • • ^ • • ^ • ^ ” • • • ^ • • • ^ • ^ ^ M BrnIn 1777, upon the execution of the preacher Dr. WiUiamrnDodd, Samuel Johnson produced one of his most memorablernaphorisms: “Depend upon it. Sir, when a man knows he isrnto be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”rnSix years later, he deplored the abolition of public executionsrnat Tyburn, echoing St. Paul on the evils of neophiliarnwhen he blamed this on the “fury of innovation.” On Tyburnrnhangings, he observed, “Sir, executions are intended to drawrnspectators. If they do not draw spectators, they don’t answerrntheir purpose.”rnJohnson also regretted the decline in corporal punishment atrnschool, speaking as both a former recipient and doler-out ofrnsame: “There is now less flogging in our great schools than formerly,rnbut then less is learned there; so that what the boys getrnat one end, they lose at the other.” He was equally disturbed byrnthe growing tendency to spare the rod and spoil the child in privaterncircumstances, rebuking the Scottish Lady Errol as follows:rn”The rod produces an effect which terminates in itself. A childrnis afraid of being whipped, and gets his task, and there’s an endrnon’t; whereas, by exciting emulation, and comparisons of superiority,rnyou lay the foundation of lasting mischief; you makernbrothers and sisters hate each other.”rnSamuel Johnson was no advocate of (in the modern jargon)rncruel and unusual punishments. He was a devout Christianrnand a man of good works, celebrated for his generosit)’ to beggars,rnhis provision of money and accommodation for manyrnBarry Baldwin is a professor of classics at the University of Calgaryrnand the author of 12 books on Greek and Roman historyrnand hterature.rn22/CHRONICLESrnpoor men and women, and his abolitionist views on slavery. Hernlived in the age of Reason, not the Dark Ages; and both he andrnhis ideas were at the center of things, not on the margins.rnNeither Johnson’s arguments nor his character give comfortrnhere for opponents of corporal and capital punishment, thosernwho believe that no noose is good noose. Between SamuelrnJohnson and the code of Hammurabi (around 1900 B.C.) lies arnstretch of over three and a half millennia. Here we find thernearliest statement of the lex talionis—the revenge of an eye forrnan eye and a tooth for a tooth.rnDespite the apparent severity, Hammurabi restricted therndeath penalty to homicide (deliberate and accidental), theft,rnadultery, and bearing false witness. For other crimes, the punishmentsrnwere lesser, and graded. It should be emphasized forrnthe benefit of feminists that women’s rights were acknowledged:rnill-used and neglected wives could obtain divorce, whilstrnmistresses were also allowed to have legal rights. On the punishingrnside, I especially like the dispositions for delinquent professionals.rnIf a house fell on its owner, builder and architectrnwere liable to death, mutilation, or a heavy fine; the same punishmentsrnawaited doctors convicted of malpractice.rnThe major fault in Hammurabi’s Code is one that was frequentlyrnrepeated in late Roman, Byzantine, and medieval law.rnToo often, there was one law for the rich and powerful, anotherrnfor the poor and weak: law vas a respecter of persons. WithrnHammurabi, this took a colorful form. One statute providedrnthat if a nobleman bit off another nobleman’s nose, the victimrnmight bite off his attacker’s nose in retribution. But if a noblemanrnbit off a commoner’s nose, the victim was entitled to biternoff only half his attacker’s proboscis. We are not informed as tornrnrn