A Few Good Lashes
So a coworker and I were talking about corporate discipline. You know: hr, write ups, verbal warnings, that kinda jazz. That got me to thinking about the way they used to punish people inside a working environment. In the diamond mines, the miners might have their feet cut off if they were caught stealing diamonds. Share Croppers in the old south might have possessions taken from their homes if they were not ‘pulling their weight’ on their part of the land. And, of course, pirates that didn’t follow the rules of their delicate democracy might get the lash.
First, lets talk about the lash.
We are talking about an item that is a cross between a whip and a cat-of-nine-tails. The lash would have multiple ends like a cat-of-nine-tails but it would not usually have the barbs of metal or glass or pottery tied into the lashes. The lash is also relatively long, not as long as a bullwhip, not as tightly wound as a bullwhip so it does not cut quite as deep (though I think if you asked a pirate that had been lashed – they might disagree).
So what might a pirate get the lash for?
- dipping into the spoils of their journey before the Captain and Quartermaster had divided up the plunder
- taking food
- stealing – in general from anothe rcrew member
- falling asleep while they were supposed to be on watch
- not following the code (though as we learned in PoTC, the code is more of a set of guidelines)
What did the pirate expect when they were told there would be a lashing?
The whippee would generally be tied to the central mast of the ship. Their hand were basically bound together and they were tied tightly so that they were in a standing position, belly against the mast. The whipper might be the boatswain, the quartermaster or the a member of the crew known for their ability to give a good lashing. The whippee would have their shirt removed and then the punishment would commence. The number of lashes depended on the offense and the quartermaster – who on most ships would be in charge until they were in battle, at which point the captain would take over.
I think we should bring back lashing in the work place.
- Someone takes a long lunch – 1 lash for every minute over their allotted time.
- Someone steals office supplies – 1 lash and one for each pack of Post-Its
- Sleeping on the job – 5 lashes
- Playing on facebook – 1 lash per LIKE (unless you were LIKEing RenOutfitters.com – then you get a pass
- Gossip –15 lashes and potential keelhauling
Bring lashing up in your next office meeting. Keep celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day by lashing your employees and coworkers. You will increase productivity and maybe even drive your workforce to start pillaging rival companies. It could lead to a whole new kind of commerce.