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On The Couch: Borrowing brutality to punish truly wicked

Thomas, whose back legs were broken before he was placed on a road so a car could kill him. He was rescued and needs surgery to repair his legs.

Thomas, whose back legs were broken before he was placed on a road so a car could kill him. He was rescued and needs surgery to repair his legs.

Published Nov 13, 2021


THERE’S a little museum in the magnificent city of Siena, Italy, that I want to borrow some stuff from.

It’s a place I wandered around with mouth agape, astounded by man’s (it is highly unlikely it was any women) creativity, ingenuity and brilliance.

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Unfortunately, the Museo Della Tortura is also testament to some ravaged brains that were genius level evil.

I was a bit hesitant about letting my then 10-year-old son visit, but it was the only one that had him awestruck. No mere paintings and flying buttresses and leaning towers offered the same intrigue and fascination. It was a while back, so I can’t remember the names of all these contraptions, but they really exposed the depth of thought that went into their cruelty.

One that stuck with me was a diabolical guillotine-like contraption. The victim was hung by his/her spread legs, upside down so blood pooling in the brain would stop him/her bleeding to death and keep them conscious enough to feel the full agony of a blade slicing into the torso from the groin. Who even thinks like that?

A multitude of iron devices, which would be attached to body parts and squeezed, clamped, spread or pinched. The rack. Torture by fire, with an enormous bellows to ensure the flames stayed long and hot. It was one of the most violent collection of things I’d ever seen.

It still makes me wonder about what humanity could be if that genius, that level of brilliance and thought, had been turned to inventing things that would improve or save lives.

The heartbreaking story of Thomas the dog (read it online and watch the video at turned my thoughts to fitting punishments for a person who could be so wicked and heartless. Someone broke Thomas’s back legs and placed him on a road so a car might run over him and kill him. The bastard in question did not even have the guts to end it quickly for the poor pup. Cowardice mixed with brutality and evil to come up with this plan.

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Generally, I’m a pacifist, but all pacifist convictions are wiped away when people hurt children and animals. Their very helplessness should demand of all of us that we stand up to protect them. It should be our first, primal instinct.

Special punishment should be dished out to the guilty and I wouldn’t turn away from a twist or two of the rack handle. Or give the nailed door on the spiked chair a hard shove.

But until the wicked ones are caught and face (often meagre) punishment, we can help in small ways: support your local animal rescue operations; and donate to children’s organisations because they do the heartbreaking, face-to-face helping of the really vulnerable, and are struggling to do so in these Covid-19 times.

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If you can, help Nicky at 4 Paws and a Tale. She is incredible ‒ I know because I found my little Belly at her organisation and she grilled me like a criminal before I was allowed to take her home. I approve.

Contact Nicky on 084 626 5508 or go to the 4 Paws And A Tale Facebook page.

While you do that, I’ll ask Museo Della Tortura for a loan.

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  • Lindsay Slogrove is the news editor

The Independent on Saturday

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