BALTIMORE—In an announcement that sheds new light on the history of an apparatus traditionally regarded as execution equipment, researchers at Johns Hopkins University presented new evidence Tuesday suggesting the first gallows were created as an early aid to autoerotic asphyxiation. “Our findings indicate that the early development cycle of the structure bearing a ropework noose attached to a wooden scaffold was, in fact, initially an effort by Europeans of centuries ago to bring themselves to sexual climax by abruptly cutting off their airway,” said research associate Casey Ruhnke, who presented early draughtsman’s notes and sketches purporting to show that while the framework was later adapted to humanely administer the death penalty, its original intent was simply to help people achieve intense hypoxic orgasms. “Rudimentary early versions of the instrument appear to be specifically designed for people who become aroused when bound on a raised platform and slowly approached by a man in a black hood, who, after declaring their greatest indiscretions into their ear in front of an audience, finally strangles them with ligatures, thereby providing a once-in-a-lifetime erotic thrill. Obviously, little had to change for the gallows to assume the purpose we traditionally associate it with.” The researchers also discovered that the common belt served a similar erotic purpose before eventually finding use as a device to hold up pants.
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