Iranian government unveils finger-amputating machine for punishing "thieves"


Our machines are better because they kill the prisoner.


Wait, thieves and adulterers get the death sentence in our(?) country? News to me!

That said, while this development is disgusting and shocking, it’s hardly suprising coming from Iran. This is why religious fundamentalists should not be given power, folks.


What year is it over there?


no just a ton of totally innocent people.


So you’re saying… what, exactly?

We have a justice system that produces false positives and results in innocent people being sentenced to death? Which justice system doesn’t have such false positives?

More importantly, how does that have anything to do with Iran’s barbaric new practice of punishing petty thievery with physical mutilation? You’re just spouting unrelated nonsense.




How about:

  1. A justice system that executes innocent people, people with mental disabilities and people who committed their crimes as minors is cruel and barbaric. (Note: the U.S. and Iran are in a very exclusive club in that they both continue these practices).
  2. A justice system that mutilates convicts for any reason, especially minor offenses, is also cruel and barbaric. (Iran is in an even more exclusive club on this one).

Regarding the execution of the mentally disabled and those who commit crimes as minors, I’d once again reiterate “This is why religious fundamentalists should not be given power, folks.” Not a lot of secular Humanists go around calling for the death penalty. Might be something to do with drawing inspiration from sources that don’t advocate stoning people for being of a different ethnicity and the like.


@doctorow Wow! this reminds me of a real working machine my friend Brett made a few years back. I wonder if they saw this!

The reason that it is reasonable to bring up the barbarism of the US penal system when stories come out about the barbarism of the Iranian penal system in US media is that (not saying BoingBoing is doing this necessarily) stories about Iranian barbarism are often used in the western corporate media and by warmongering authoritarians in comment boards to seek to justify yet more barbarism, i.e., western sanctions and possible wars, by suggesting that Iranian barbarism is somehow uniquely evil in a manner that makes them a threat to the world.

None of this is to say that chopping someone’s fingers off for theft is not barbaric, although overall, I think when one looks at the scale of US imprisonment and practices of US penal policy, it is arguable whether it is more or less barbaric than many standard US practices, particularly the widespread use of solitary confinement, which is widely recognized elsewhere in the world as a form of torture.

Anyway, in the interest of avoiding war, which is the greatest barbarism, I often feel compelled to point out that Iranian barbarism is not unique to the world and that those that wish to oppose penal barbarism should do well to look first to their own countries and after that to others that they are most likely to influence, as opposed to countries like Iran, where it will be easy to dismiss western concerns as part of an external plot and therefore may even serve to undermine the work of Iranian reformers and/or revolutionaries.

(P.S. I hate this new commenting system)

[edit] …and why is it, exactly, even if we take into account that Iranian penal barbarisms that are highlighted are culturally different from Western penal barbarisms (such as solitary confinement) and therefore more likely to shock the Western reader, that we read constantly of Iran’s barbarisms but we so rarely read of Saudi Arabia’s penal barbarisms, where people get stoned to death, beheaded, etc. for such crimes as witchcraft? In fact thieves in Saudi Arabia get their whole hand cut off, not just some fingers, and they are not given any drugs to dull the pain. So why the difference in coverage? Oh yeah, because Saudi Arabia follows US dictates on foreign policy and oil economics and Iran does not.


Hey, makes you think twice before stealing an item that’s not yours.
I think these may be habitual thief’s caught many times.
But a little over the top for punishment.

worst kickstarter ever.


No, just the mentally ill.

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This machine is just a standard mechanical flywheel press. We used to have them all over the place in the US for industrial cutting and trimming–things like leather, cork, and rubber for shoes, sports supplies, etc., They were mostly sold to mexico and china and other places where factory owners don’t mind if their employees get their fingers cut off on the assembly line, because they are fairly dangerous. These usually don’t require a two-button activator switch (and often have a pedal activator), and the die (an industrial cookie-cutter) is fixed to the top plate of the press rather than lying on the bottom, which all means that your finger could be in a bad place when the flywheel with 2-5 tons of force came down. I cut the tip of at least one finger on one of these once (it mostly grew back). I’m not surprised someone came up with this, as anyone who has used one spends most of their time thinking about getting their finger cut off. I’d guess that the one in the photo was just a press someone had in a factory, and they didn’t go about making an special dies or holders for fingers. I also have a slight suspicion this is a hoax, but who knows.

Relevant picture of a ‘benchmaster’ 5-ton at


That’s sick.

So… what do they do with the fingers?

The Year Texas.


Mental disabilities and mental illnesses are different concepts. Ignoring the fact that I feel that execution itself is immoral, one could argue that executing someone with a mental disability is unethical because it is like executing a child or an addict–the person didn’t know the gravity of their actions. The argument for executing someone with a mental illness is far different. A mental illness is rarely a mitigating factor in a crime because you will still understand the gravity of the crime (except for cases of acute psychosis). And not surprisingly, because of this, people that have mental illnesses are no more violent than the general population. Two cases in point: Jared Loughner was clearly acutely psychotic. In his case, an insanity defense is valid (as there really wasn’t much of a plan). In contrast, James Holmes was not acutely psychotic. He methodically planned and executed a mass murder. Despite a mental illness, he was aware of his actions and the gravity of the crime.

Edit: I failed that mention that mental disabilities are not dangerous either (this was an oversight). The group that has a significant risk of increased violence are substance abusers, and in almost all cases of non-economic & non-DV violence committed by people (whether mentally disabled or having a mental illness), substance abuse is what increases the risk.

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Kentucky fried!

Good one. I laughed out loud.