Colin Dayan

Colin Dayan, Robert Penn Warren Professor of the Humanities at Vanderbilt University, is the author, most recently, of The Story of Cruel and Unusual. The Law Is a White Dog will be published by Princeton.

Short Cuts: ‘Dangerous’ Dogs

Colin Dayan, 3 December 2009

In April this year the New York City Housing Authority issued a ban on pit bulls (also identified as Staffordshire terriers), Rottweilers and Doberman pinschers – ‘all of these either full breed or mixed breed’ – or any full grown dog over 25 lbs. That means almost any dog bigger than a dachshund or corgi. Tenants feared eviction if they kept their dogs. An exception...

The White Tree: the Jena Six

Colin Dayan, 1 November 2007

The ‘white tree’ in Jena, Louisiana was cut down this summer. In September 2006 a black pupil asked the white principal of Jena High School if black students could sit under this tree, where only white students ever sat. He answered: ‘You can sit anywhere you want.’ Three nooses then appeared in the tree, fights began, and six black teenagers were charged with the...

Shackles, dogs, humiliating acts, forced positions and ‘restraint chairs’, 23-hour lockdown, permanent solitary confinement. This catalogue of cruel and degrading treatment is now the fate not only of those held in ‘supermax’ prisons in the United States, but also of the prisoners in Guantánamo Bay. The language used to describe those in custody within the US...

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