1. “Wouldn’t a guillotine have made more sense?”

    Um… why? You hang pinatas (and then beat them with sticks). Why would you cut a pinata?

  2. Piñatas are usually hung from above. Usually not by their neck, but I think the “piñata hanging by a rope” was the gag the cartoonist was going for.

  3. Sometimes if the drop was too long the head would come off (in real executions), so I expect this is what is going on. Albert Pierrepoint, Britain’s famous travelling hangman, who executed over 200 Nazi war criminals, was fastidious about his weight and rope length calculations to avoid that sort of thing. I saw a feature film about him 15 years ago called Pierrepoint and starring Timothy Spall (who has also been painters JMW Turner and LS Lowry).

    I see in the cartoon the condemned pinata is being read to by a priest. As it happens, I visited Shepton Mallet prison in Somerset a couple of weekends ago – it was operating from 1625 until 2013 and is currently a museum (before being turned into luxury flats or something). During WW2 the American forces in the UK took it over as their prison and executed several service personnel there for murder and rape (though rape had not been a capital crime in Britain since 1841). Pierrepoint assisted his uncle at some executions: “Under British custom I was working to the sort of timing where the drop fell between eight and twenty seconds after I had entered the condemned’s cell. Under the American system, after I had pinioned the prisoner, he had to stand on the drop for perhaps six minutes while his charge sheet was read out, sentence spelt out, and he was asked if he had anything to say, and after that I was instructed to get on with the job.”


  4. I’d think a blindfolded person with a stick would make more sense…but at the top of the picture is a hooded/blindfolded person with a stick.

  5. That’s the executioner with his hand on the lever that will release the trap door.

  6. There is also a case to be made that when someone dies their bowels release. In this case the innards are candy and so it’ll drop the load into the waiting bags of the kids eagerly awaiting the final throes of the pinata’s death.

  7. A properly executed hanging (not counting the bad old days when the condemned was meant to suffer as much as possible) is supposed to break the neck of the condemned. So taking that to the pinata…

  8. I’m with Bob Peters. If the executioner know what he was doing (and had the proper supplies, which I believe he might bring with him), the neck would break. If you break the neck of a pinata, stuff comes out.

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