Thursday, September 14, 2017

Tarring and Feathering by N. K.

Tarring and Feathering

These week’s reading topic was tarring and feathering. The reading contained the far-reaching history of the practice and well as for what reason people were tarred and feathered which dates back to the 12th century. He goes on to show that felony or simply an act of bad manners can result in punishment of the sort. The author of this piece, goes to tell the stories and backgrounds those who got tarred and feathered, including how the course of the practice changes over time.
The purpose of the tarring and feathering would be to show the public the consequences of illegal activity. Many victims were displayed in public as sorts of humiliation and to break the victim’s spirit so that he may never break the law again. Other cases show creative punishments such as using “the downy tops of flags”(1)  and molasses for interrupting a quilting session, or having a live goose being thrown at a victim after the man had been tarred. The author of this piece can be visualized as a bystander as he describes, with vivid detail, what happens and to who. The voices that are certainly lacking in this piece are the voices of the victims of tarring and feathering as one could assume that they have much to say.
The activities in class helped guide our understanding of where tarring and feathering originated from. Student input was extremely helpful as the discussion allowed for more topics to be brought to attention that were not mentioned in the primary source itself. These activities helped us learn about the practice and procedure of tarring and feathering that we (maybe most of us) did not know before.
During class we discussed the evolving nature of tarring and feathering as the practice evolved over time. In medieval times, the King punished any crusaders found guilty of theft by having their heads and pouring tar on their bald scalp. As time progresses, we find that the reasoning behind tarring and feathering starts to differ, such as in 1623, where tar and feathers were applied “to a group of drunks”(3), or in some cases, used to exercise one’s patriotism by tarring and feathering any of those who opposed the liberty of America. Some questions that still remain after all is said and done is “Did the victim suffer any long term consequences?” and “Were there other punishments or fines given to victims after the tarring and feathering?”