Respect for human rights

Essay:Respect for human rights

It is no surprise for those who have ever attended an auction for cars or other merchandises that a normal auction is set with relevant rules and procedures for the assurance of a smooth process throughout. However, have you been acquainted with a slave auction? Unfortunately, slave auctions, once pervasive in Southern America, were claimed to resemble modern auctions, where slaves for sale were inspected by potential purchasers in the way a used car is by its buyers. In my judgment, slave auction was an inhumane activity as it tortured involved slaves both physically and mentally and a throng of participants treated them as objects rather than living persons.

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The first fact illustrating this inhumanity(Brown, line 13, par.20, ch.1) is that slaves suffered severe physical agonies during a slave auction. As Harriet Jacobs describes in his book Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, William, the slave for sale at an auction, was handcuffed among the gang (line 3, par. 4, ch.19). It indicated that he was treated in an atrocious way as if he was a prisoner with no right of freedom. Olive Gilbert also reveals in his Narrative of Sojourner Truth that at the terrible auction slaves were to be put under the hammer (line 2, par. 1). Another thing worth noticing is that he points out the day of auction as never-to-be-forgotten, from which we can imagine what a horrifying experience the victims had undergone on that very day (line 1, par. 1). What™s worse, slaveholders frequently threatened to use or actually applied the lash of whip so as to keep the slaves in order, as asserted by Frederick Douglass in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave (line 6, par. 4, ch. 1). In another chapter of the same book, he describes the brutal scene where a merciless master whipped his disobedient slave (lines 14-23, par. 8, ch. 1). Although I have not come across any detailed description of whipping at an slave auction, there is no difficulty in envisioning the cruelty of the slaveholder on such a critical occasion as an auction which determined the amount of money he would receive. It might be hard for people in today™s world to imagine the physical pain experienced by slaves, but with the above description and other evidence such as pictures, we cannot deny that transactions for slaves at an auction is beyond tolerance since it crossed the bottom line of humanism that human being ought to respect other people™s rights to live a normal and independent life with dignity. 

Compared with physical destruction, mental humiliation committed upon slaves during an auction is far more damaging, which is another reason why slave auction has been abhorred by a great number of people for so long a time. Olive Gilbert uttered a deep sympathy towards slaves as he emphasizes though ignorant, helpless, crushed in spirit, and weighed down with hardship and cruel bereavement, they were still human (lines 16-17, par. 1). His words reflect that slaves should be respected and their dignity should be considered. However, at an auction, slaves were often stripped naked for full inspection. To slave-girls who were exposed fully naked, the only thing they could do at such a humiliating moment was shedding their tears (Brown, lines 3, par.20, ch.1). In glaring contrast, laughing, joking, swearing, smoking, spitting, and talking kept up a continual hum and noise amongst the crowd on the exactly same occasion (Brown, lines 4, par.20, ch.1).This extreme insult was too much even for male slaves, let alone females. William Wells Brown describes this situation as the decline of life (line 18, par. 1). Therefore, it is not uncommon that most slaves were hopeless and led a life as walking corpses. There was wringing of hands and cries of despair, as Harriet Jacobs points out in his book Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (line 5, par. 5, ch.19). From this description, it can be inferred that slaves received such treatment were much likely to be on the verge of collapse and gradually abandoned their dignity as human, which is truly appalling (Gilbert, line 19, par. 1).

Apart from the physical and mental torture inflicted on slaves for sale at an auction, the fact that slaves were regarded as inanimate articles when the auction was underway also classifies slave auction into an inhumane atrocity with long-lasting notoriety throughout history. Harriet Beecher Stowe ironically called a female slave with attractive appearance a fine female article in Uncle Tom™s Cabin or Life among the Lowly, implying the crucial reality at that time (line 9, par. 27, ch. 1). In his book Narrative of Sojourner Truth, Olive Gilbert accounts that not only Isabella and Peter, but their mother, were now destined to the auction block, and would have been struck off with the rest to the highest bidder (lines 2-4, par.1). This reveals some of the rules of an slave auction, rules that shared many similarities with those at auctions for other lifeless articles. Another rule manifests itself when William Wells Brown explains in The President™s Daughter that any gentleman or lady wishing to purchase, can take any of the above slaves on trial for a week, for which no charge will be made (lines 5-6, par. 10, ch.1). If the word slaves is replaced by cars, it will definitely make more sense. That is to say, slaves are by no means seen as human at an auction, which is ridiculous in the perspective of modern society. More similarly, advertisements demonstrating advantages of specific slaves were applied to attract more purchasers (Brown, line 12, par. 12, ch. 1). In the same book, William Wells Brown narrates thatamongst the above slaves to be sold were Currer and her two daughters, Clotel and Althesa; the latter were the girls spoken of in the advertisement as very superior™(line 7, par. 10, ch. 1). It can be inferred that advertising for slaves during an auction was a common phenomenon and slaves were widely regarded as living merchandises with no distinctive differences from other kinds. The most ironic remark occurs when William Wells Brown represents the bidding of a beautiful girl in his book, in which different organs of the girl™s body were treated under different prices in accordance with various values they had in the eyes of traders (Brown, lines 8-11, par.20, ch.1). Perhaps that is why William Wells Brown rebukes slavery with strong emotion by the comment nature abhors it; the age repels it; and Christianity needs all her meekness to forgive it(Brown, lines 16-17, par.20, ch.1).

Slave auction, as is detailed above, is a cold-blooded occasion when slaves were inflicted with intolerable physical and mental torment and treated as insensate articles by atrocious and brutal slaveholders. To assert justice and wellbeing in the world, such enormity is to be completely eradicated. ?-Z?