Announced by Archdruid Eileen, Wednesday, 4 January 2012
This morning we will be remembering the sad fate of Topsy the Elephant, who was put to death by electrocution for the murder of three.
1903 was a landmark year for the inventive folk of the USA. The Wright brothers achieved their first powered flight, pointing the way to a future of cheap air travel and a shrinking world. And somebody electrocuted an elephant, showing the way for a century of experimenting with modern, efficient ways of putting people to death for crime.
It’s notable, I think, that like many of those who would follow her in this new and improved execution method (so much more scientific than strangling people with a rope) Topsy couldn’t really have understood the moral significance of her “crimes”. And, as if to reflect the disproportionate way American justice would be meted out in the century or more to come, she wasn’t white.
Photograph of Big Mary, a circus elephant hanged in East Tennessee on September 13, 1916, for killing a new handler. http://www.all-creatures.org/articles/ar-thehanging.html