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The Hangman's Knot

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Autor:   •  April 3, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,704 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,066 Views

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The Hangman’s Knot

I as well as many people don’t understand the symbolism of the the hangman’s knot or the history behind its uses. I have always came to understand that it was an offensive knot to others because of the lynchings going on during slavery time period. Even today the hangman’s knot still plays a role in modern hate crime acts; However the hangman’s knot dates back to as early as the 16th century. The brutality portrayed by the knot brings out many feelings among many different people, And with that causes many acts of violence and rage toward others. The hangman’s knot, or also known as noose is a hard subject for many African Americans to talk about or discuss. Because at the time of these crimes the African American race was looked down upon. They were treated like animals and were never given the least bit of respect, they were tortured, beaten, and then hanged. I can agree that if this happened to my ancestors I would be offended by the many things that used to happen, and the symbols that are used in hate crimes today.

The hangman’s knot is designed to be a slipknot that can be easily tightened but difficult or somewhat impossible to loosen depending on the number of friction wraps made into it. While researching this knot I’ve found out its very similar to a fishing knot used to tie hooks to microfilament line called a uni-knot. The hangman’s noose is also used on most marine watercraft as a life saving devise, which makes it very convenient to throw with the large mass on the end. Which other variations of this knot, say with only one horizontal loop called a slip-knot is often used to tie down a lot of objects. The original design for the hangman’s knot required it to have six to eight horizontal wraps, but urban legend says it should have thirteen horizontal wraps. Which dated back to be a false legend because any more than eight wraps in the knot would cause it to become sloppy and defeat the original purpose of the knot.

The knot when made with a large enough diameter rope creates a noose. The wraps create a large cylinder mass right above the loop. When placed around the condemned’s neck the noose is usually putt behind the left ear. This knot was designed so that when the person being hanged fell, the knot would deliver a striking blow to the back of the head causing it to snap the fourth and fifth vertebrae in the spinal cord. Causing immediate paralysis and loss of consciousness. A very brutal form of execution.

The hanging method of the death penalty has been used for hundreds of years. Mostly dates back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They would have public gatherings and hang people from a devise called the gallows which is a large square frame usually with a deck platform for the condemned to stand on. These gallows were often built side by side, or even connected for multiple hangings. The hanging death penalty is still used to this day even in the United States. Washington and New Hampshire are two of the states that have it as an option for a convict. If no options of the death sentence are presented the convict has the option to choose this method of execution. As history has dated back many common modern day misdemeanors were mandatory hangings. Any thing from :gambling, murder, using obscene language, being rude to females, rape, robbery, arson, aiding in a slaves escape, talking back to a white man and touching a female were all hangable offenses. These offenses made it very easy for white supremacy leaders to charge African American slaves with ridiculous crimes, but often the crimes were not even committed by the black man at all. The white suprmecy mob would hold a false trial and use there own judgment. I believe these laws were an excuse during the time just to hang black slaves, because you never hear of a white man from these times being hung for using obscene language

The noose for many people is a racist symbol of life years ago. It is a cowardly reminder of what it used to stand for and what it was used for. Col. John lynch gave the noose such a derogatory meaning by holding trials in his front yard and sentencing the convicted to be hung. After there sentencing the condemned was hung in his back yard, which brought forth the term lynching. This period of lynching lasted for five decades, during the time of the reconstruction and great depression era. Huge mobs were formed called lynching mobs, they would steal black prisoners from the local jails and hang them. These were not just normal hangings, the prisoners would be tortured, burned, and shot thousands of times. This Southern mobs were the main people carrying out these public lynchings. Even though lynching of African American men, women, and children has been abolished, White supremacy believers still use the hangman’s knot as a symbol to commit hate crimes. Many recent current events are a prime example of this. I was Watching the news recently and saw stories such as the Jena six, hanging noose found at Maryland College, and the Columbia university professor. These cases are very recent and spark a lot of controversy with the public.

I never paid too much attention to the recent hate crimes, actually I didn’t even know about them. I have been reading articles about the Jena six and it is a really deep subject. I can relate somewhat to this story because my school had a tree in a courtyard that all of the white students sat under. Most of the black students in my school went to the gym to play basketball; however there was never any racial incidents or hate crimes committed


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