Derby's dose

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Derby's dose was a form of torture used in Jamaica to punish slaves who attempted to escape or committed other offenses like stealing food. According to Malcolm Gladwell in his 2008 book Outliers, "The runaway would be beaten, and salt pickle, lime juice, and bird pepper would be rubbed into his or her open wounds. Another slave would defecate into the mouth of the miscreant, who would then be gagged for four to five hours."[1] The punishment was invented by Thomas Thistlewood, a slave overseer and named for the slave, Derby, who was made to undergo this punishment when he was caught eating young sugar cane stalks in the field on May 25 1756. Thomas Thistlewood recorded this punishment as well as a further punishment of Derby in August of that same year in his diary.[2] In 2013, Derby's dose came to prominence when television host Martin Bashir suggested on air that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin deserved to be subjected to the punishment. Bashir was heavily criticized for this and resigned from the MSNBC network in the aftermath.


  1. ^ Gladwell, Malcolm (2008). Outliers: The Story of Success. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company. p. 282. ISBN 978-0-316-01792-3. 
  2. ^ Tate, Thad W.; Jordan, Winthrop D.; Skemp, Sheila L. (1987). Race and Family in the Colonial South: Essays. University Press of Mississippi. p. 74. Retrieved February 23, 2009.