Keelhauling continued to be used legally in the Dutch Navy until they decided it was "weird" and "Don't do that" and outlawed the practice in 1853. No idea if it's any worse of a management tool than modern-day team-building workshops, but at least no one's dying in that manner at the hands of a boat legally anymore.
But sometimes boat-murder happens "on accident," which is a real stretch if the accident is a result of purposeful cruelty. The most notorious mass-market slave-trading route in history is the Middle Passage, one-third of the triangular trade route that dominated global commerce from the 16th century through the end of the Civil War. You probably learned about it in 10th grade history and filed it away under "Awful stuff that happened a long time ago," but this one, really, really fucking sucks. People in West Africa were kidnapped by the millions, marched to the coast (half would die before they got there), held in bunkers for months, and then crammed into ships bound for the New World.
Yes, yes, what a marvelous plan. This should work perfectly; so glad we made this plan.
The boats were absurdly overcrowded, usually a few hundred Africans to 30-some-odd crew members. That's not a great ratio if your aim is to keep the soon-to-be-laborers alive, which was their aim, but they didn't really aim all that hard. The massive below-deck population was given meager amounts of food and water while shackled together, with no plumbing or cleaning systems to speak of. If the person you were shackled to died, you'd be stuck with him for a few days, because the crew members didn't love going below deck to check on everyone. On-board doctors were not considered worth the cost, so they just stocked the boats with a bunch of medicine, hoping it would help. It didn't. The close quarters, people's lowered immune systems, and the ever-present human waste allowed diseases like dysentery to spread easily. That combined with starvation, scurvy, small pox, suicide, and straight-up murder caused up to 20 percent of enslaved people to die before they ever reached the Americas.
The U.S. outlawed transatlantic slave trade in 1809, but it continued covertly until the Civil War was over. That's a whole lot of boat murder. Yes, yes, we can blame it on the boats!
U.S. Naval Historical Center
There's no point in playing Horror Olympics with a centuries-long genocide, but as long as we're talking boat murder, we gotta talk scaphism. Scaphism is a bad. It a big bad. Please prepare yourself to learn about scaphism.
Also known as the more terrifying moniker "the boats," this torture/execution method was invented by ancient Persians, who clearly did not fuck around when it came to making a firm point. Here's what happens: The criminal is put in a canoe or hollowed-out log with their head and limbs sticking out, and is then covered with another canoe or hollowed-out log, then the whole thing gets lashed together and is floated out onto a lake. The setup looked a bit like they were in a school play as Tree #2. The poor bastard was force-fed milk and honey to cause them to have diarrhea, which filled up the inside of the log, attracting insects that would bite, sting, and lay eggs in the person's extremities. Some dedicated torture employee would show up every day to force-feed the person, just to make sure the person didn't die of something pleasant like starvation or dehydration. Eventually, one of those things would kill the person, or they'd die of sepsis from their whole body being full of poop. Dying on a lake in a log-boat covered in feces and milk and insects is NOT chill. Do NOT do that.
Which Sci-Fi Trope Would You Bring To The Real World, And Why? Every summer we're treated to the same buffet of three or four science fiction movies with the same basic conceits. There's man vs. aliens, man vs. robots, man vs. army of clones and man vs. complicated time travel rules. With virtual reality and self-driving cars fast approaching, it's time to consider what type of sci-fi movie we want to be living in for the rest of our lives. Co-hosts Jack O'Brien and Adam Tod Brown are joined by Cracked's Tom Reimann and Josh Sargent along with comedians David Huntsberger, Caitlin Gill, and Lizzy Cooperman to figure out which sci-fi trope would be the best to make a reality. Get your tickets to this live podcast here!
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