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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Observer Calling time on Blackface Morris (217* d) RE: Calling time on Blackface Morris 05 Jul 20

"Tradition dictated that young lads who stole a sheep could be hanged. Tradition dictated that women suspected of being witches could be ducked until they drowned. Tradition dictated that chaps accused of treason could be strung up on the gallows and their guts cut out and spread on the ground before they were dead. Tradition is a wonderful thing..."

Sorry but "Tradition" had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any of the above:

1. The sheep stealer, way back in the day, was breaking the law [If you stole a sheep today you still would be breaking the law], his crime of robbery affected the lives of not only the owner of the sheep and his family, but the lives of a number of other families in times when life was a great deal more fragile than it is now - hence the severity of the punishment.

Historical Note: Lots of crimes carried the death penalty, court records show that roughly only one in ten were ever carried out. Sentences were commuted to Hard Labour for life or Transportation for life.

2. Witchcraft was viewed by the Church as being punishable by death. Counter to what many believe no witches were burned at the stake in England, that fate was reserved for the religious crime of heracy, witches in England were tried for and punished in accordance with the crimes they committed - but again it was LAW not Tradition.

3. Treason/Sedition along with Murder has always been viewed as the most serious of crimes and as such carried with them the harshest sentences. Last group of people sentenced to the end described were a group of weavers from Larkhall in Scotland in the 1830s - they were to be publicly executed on Glasgow Green and in Stirling to serve as an example - They were hanged by the neck until dead because the authorities could not find anyone who was prepared to carry-out the rest of the sentence. Nothing to do with Tradition.

As to "blacking up" to serve as a disguise? Very effective, special forces soldiers throughout the world of all races, creeds and hues do so and are taught to do so for that very good reason. As for using any other colour back in the past? Well that might have proved difficult and counter-productive, having said that I dare say that it might have been done, but it would have been nowhere near as effective and besides soot from a fireplace would always have been ready to hand whereas colouring your face with clay or earth would indicate very clearly to any local where you came from in a district or in an area as small as a parish. Go for other means of colouring up and that would have involved some sort of expense which rather defeats the object if the reason you "blacked up" in the first place was to beg or "guise" for money.

Always found that long standing "traditions" centre around the history and cultures of the indigenous population so it should come as no surprise to anybody that the older traditions of the British Isles and indeed of Europe are rather "white". The world does change and newer "traditions" are adopted the one that immediately springs to mind here in the UK in my lifetime is the Nottinghill Carnival, which is now - Yep ya got it, it's a tradition.

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