Now You Know
Why do we say that someone caught in a dishonest
or criminal act “got nailed?”
In the early days of criminal justice, punishment
was often barbaric.
Public hangings and floggings were commonplace,
and for lesser
crimes, the infliction of public humiliation
and pain on the criminal
was considered necessary to deter others
from committing similar
crimes. One such deterrent was to nail the
convicted person’s ears to
the hangman’s scaffold, where he or she would
spend the day as a public
spectacle. They had been “nailed.”
Why were executions held at sunrise?
In prehistoric times, executions of condemned
prisoners were carried
out as sacrificial ceremonies to the rising
sun. In the Middle Ages,
because the executions were public, they
continued to be held early in
the day so as not to attract huge crowds.
It wasn’t until well into the
twentieth century that more enlightened societies
brought capital punishment
indoors, not because executions were shocking,
they were too popular.
What is the origin of the phrase, “I’ll be
hanged if I do and hanged if I don’t”?
When America was fighting for its independence,
the British poet
Thelwall was arrested after enraging King
George with his liberal,
seditious support for the colonies. In prison
he wrote to his lawyer, “I
shall be hanged of I don’t plead my own case,”
to which his lawyer
replied, “You’ll be hanged if you do!” His
lawyer got him off, and the
phrase became a slogan that contributed to
the demise of the royal
cause in America.
Why do we refer to an important issue as
“the burning question” of the day?
During a time when the church and the state
were equal in government,
anyone failing to follow the state religion
was burned at the
stake. Those who demanded the separation
of church and state were
considered heretics, and thousands who were
caught discussing the
issue were burned at the stake. Because of
this, whenever there was a
secret debate on religious freedom, the subject
was referred to as “the
Why when someone is betrayed do we say he
was “sold down the river”?
After 1808 it was illegal for deep southerners
to import slaves, and so
they were brought down the Mississippi River
from the North to the
slave markets of Natchez and New Orleans.
This gave the northerners
a way of selling off their difficult or troublesome
slaves to the harsher
plantation owners on the southern Mississippi,
and it meant that those
selected or betrayed would be torn from their
homes and families to be
“sold down the river.”
From The Book Titled "Now You Know"
by Doug Lennox