The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, September 27

Jim Burroway

September 27th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA:
National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: Everywhere. Are you aware? Take control, be responsible, and get yourself tested.

“Gay In America” Released Today: Bookstores Everywhere. Photographer Scott Pasfield explained his project: “People always tell you to shoot what you love. You have to start with yourself. The epiphany came one night at home. I was surfing the web and realized what a powerful tool it had become for connecting gay men across the country, from all over, and it just dawned on me. I decided that I would meet men from every state, and photograph them in the hopes that I could do a book that would change opinions and educate. And that started with shooting who I was and what my passions were.” Pasfield’s book, Gay in America, which comes out today, provides a photographic survey of gay men in America, laying to rest stereotypes and providing an honest picture of contemporary gay life through intimate portraits and narratives. Photographer Scott Pasfield traveled 54,000 miles across all fifty states over a two-year span gathering stories and documenting the lives of 140 gay men from all walks of life.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Six men pilloried in London for Homosexuality: 1810. In early 19th century Britain, the penalty for homosexuality was death. If a judge felt lenient, he might instead sentence the accused to stand time at the pillory. The September 27, 1810 entry in the Annual Register describes the pillorying of six members of what we might describe today as a gay hangout known as the Vere Street Club. That description goes like this:

Such was the degree of popular indignation excited against these wretches, and such the general eagerness to witness their punishment, that, by ten in the morning, the chief avenues from Clerkenwell Prison and Newgate to the place of punishment were crowded with people; and the multitude assembled in the Haymarket, and all its immediate vicinity, was so great as to render the streets impassible. All the windows and even the very roofs of the houses were crowded with persons of both sexes; and every coach, waggon, hay-cart, dray, and other vehicles which blocked up great part of the street, were crowded with spectators.

The Sheriffs, attended by two City Marshals, with an immense number of constables, accompanied the procession of the Prisoners from Newgate, whence they set out in the transport caravan, and proceeded through Fleet-street and the Strand; and the Prisoners were hooted and pelted the whole way by the populace. At one o- clock four of the culprits were fixed in the pillory, erected for and accommodated to the occasion, with two additional wings, one being allotted for each criminal; and immediately a new torrent of popular vengeance poured upon them from all sides. The day being fine, the streets were dry and free from mud, but the dfect was speedily and amply supplied by the butchers of St. James’s-market. Numerous escorts of whom constantly supplied the party of attack, chiefly consisting of women, with tubs of blood, garbage, and ordure from their slaughter-houses, and with this ammunition, plentifully diversified with dead cats, turnips, potatoes, addled eggs, and other missiles, the criminals were incessantly pelted to the last moment. They walked perpetually round during their hour [the pillory swivelled on a fixed axis]; and although from the four wings of the machine they had some shelter, they were completely encrusted with filth.

Two wings of the Pillory were then taken off to place Cooke and Amos in the two remaining ones, and although they came in only for the second course, they had no reason to complain of short allowance, for they received even a more severe discipline than their predecessors. On their being taken down and replaced in the caravan, they lay flat in the vehicle; but the vengeance of the crowd still pursued them back to Newgate, and the caravan was so filled with mud and ordure as completely to cover them.

No interference from the Sheriffs and Police officers could refrain the popular rage; but notwithstanding the immensity of the multitude, no accident of any note occurred.

The six men were relatively lucky. Depending on the ferocity of the crowd, death at the pillory wasn’t out of the question. The pillory was formally abolished in England in 1837.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Norris Nordin

September 27th, 2011

Being “pilloried” has come to mean in our time “exposure to public scorn and abuse”. Relative to this 1810 event, I suppose that is some progress. But in England, only a couple centuries earlier, a child ten years of age would likely be hung for stealing a loaf of bread. I don’t think England was ever “Merry old England” — just Bloody old England!

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