Derby's dose

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Derby's dose was a form of torture used in Jamaica to punish slaves who attempted to escape or committed other offenses like stealing food. According to Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 book Outliers, "The runaway would be beaten, and salt pickle, lime juice, and bird pepper would be rubbed into his or her open wounds. Another slave would defecate into the mouth of the miscreant, who would then be gagged for four to five hours."[1] The punishment was invented by Thomas Thistlewood, a slave overseer and named for the slave, Derby, who was made to undergo this punishment when he was caught eating young sugar cane stalks in the field on May 25, 1756.

Thistlewood recorded this punishment as well as a further punishment of Derby in August of that same year in his diary.[2]

On November 18, 2013, British television host Martin Bashir discredited a comparison made by U.S. politician Sarah Palin between the United States' debt to China and slavery by referring to Derby's dose.[3][4] In pointing out how cruel and barbaric slavery was, Bashir used Derby's dose as an example; at the end of the segment, he finished by saying that "if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, [Palin] would be the outstanding candidate".[5] He was criticized for this comment, and ultimately resigned.[6]

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