I’m a fiddler, and one of my favorite reels is The Flogging Reel, an Irish dance tune. As with so many other tunes, the Irish version is a reworking of an old Scottish tune; the Flogging Reel was developed over the years from the Scottish Flagon Reel. I surmise that during the 19th century many Irish men became British sailors, either by volunteering or impressment, the practice of the British Navy whereby citizens were forcibly brought on board a ship — once out on the ocean they pretty much had to accept their fate as working sailors. Flogging with a cat-of-nine-tails was the default punishment for sailors’ malfeasances aboard British Navy vessels.
Here’s a brief YouTube video of Shetland fiddler Aly Bain playing The Flogging Reel with some sort of hybrid group:
I like Aly Bain — he has influenced my own fiddle playing over the years.
Should flogging be reintroduced?
Writer Peter Moskos raises an interesting question: if you were convicted of a crime and were given a choice between twenty lashes and five years in prison, which would you choose? His article appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
What do you think about the issue of corporal punishment?