July 15, 2024

Saudi Arabia Executes A Teenager – U.S. Judge Says “No Law Against Killing A Chinaman” – Cultural Evolution

International outrage swelled after the government of Saudi Arabia executed a woman who was only 17 years old when she was arrested for murder.  Rizana Nafeek, a domestic servant from Sri Lankan, was convicted of killing a four month old boy under her care.


Judge Roy Bean

Despite the pleas of human rights groups to call off the execution, Saudi justice was carried out.  The Saudi government did not release details, but the standard method of Saudi execution is beheading, a method that many consider to be gruesome.

Although there are many harsh critics of the Saudi’s method of justice, cultural evolution moves at a different pace for each country for a variety of complex reasons.  Americans may consider that our criminal justice system is infinitely more refined, and perhaps it is, but it wasn’t that long ago that America also employed arbitrary and cruel methods to meet out justice.

Perhaps the most infamous example of capricious law enforcement in America was carried out by the notorious Judge Roy Bean, who set free a man who killed a Chinese laborer because he “could find no law against killing a Chinaman.”

There are other numerous outrageous examples of Judge Roy Bean’s implementation of justice, including the following:

  • One of his first acts as a justice of the peace was to “shoot[…] up the saloon shack of a Jewish competitor”
  • As judge, Bean relied on a single lawbook, the 1879 edition of the Revised Statutes of Texas. If newer lawbooks appeared, Bean used them as kindling.
  • Bean did not allow hung juries or appeals, and jurors, who were chosen from his best bar customers, were expected to buy a drink during every court recess. Bean was known for his unusual rulings. In one case, an Irishman named Paddy O’Rourke shot a Chinese laborer. A mob of 200 angry Irishmen surrounded the courtroom and threatened to lynch Bean if O’Rourke was not freed. After looking through his law book, Bean ruled that “homicide was the killing of a human being; however, he could find no law against killing a Chinaman”. Bean dismissed the case.
  • Langtry did not have a jail, so all cases were settled by fines. Bean refused to send the state any part of the fines, but instead kept all of the money. In most cases, the fines were made for the exact amount in the accused’s pockets.

Violations of human rights continue on a large scale in many countries across the globe with no end in sight. The evolution of the human spirit over mankind’s short history has unfortunately proceeded at a glacial pace.

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