|Some dare call it|
The guillotine was the infamous height reduction device favoured by the winning side in the French Revolution. The driving force behind the invention was to produce a "humane" form of capital punishment as death was thought to be instantaneous and painless. Whether this goal was completely achieved is debatable; nevertheless it was a considerable improvement over previous methods which were:
- beheading by axe for the aristocracy - a method which often led to the victim bleeding to death from the wounds rather than a severed spinal cord;
- hanging for the peons - a method which often led to the victim being slowly strangled.
- If you really pissed off the powers that be (the state or the Church) you got the fun of the breaking wheel[wp]
Whether any form of capital punishment can be considered "humane" is a different debate.
The device was invented by Dr. Antoine Louis, secretary of the College of Surgeons and was originally named a louisette or louison in his honour. It was first used on 25 April, 1792. The name "guillotine" is taken from Joseph Ignace Guillotin, a member of the French Constituent Assembly, who recommended in a speech to that body on October 10, 1789 that a beheading device was required, as hanging was for commoners and the sword was for nobility. In addition, it was (supposedly) faster and less painful than hanging, or the sword. Because of this speech, his name became irrevocably associated with the machine. However, after his death, his children tried to have the name of the machine changed. When they failed, they changed their surname instead.
One of the great questions of the guillotine (and by extension all forms of beheading) is if the head is still aware and conscious for any time after it is removed from the body. If true, the final moment of anyone facing (away from) the blade of the guillotine would be the surreal sight of falling away from his or her own body.
In a case of good intentions gone wrong, the laws passed during the French Revolution to abolish the older methods of execution in favor of the guillotine became so entrenched that the guillotine remained the only legal method of execution in France until the death penalty was abolished there in 1981.
 The guillotine and the rapture
“”And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
|—Revelation 20:4, KJV|
As a consequence, believers in the rapture often interpret this to refer to the guillotine, particularly in rapture porn such as Left Behind. The more mainstream whackjobs, such as Rick Santorum, will even say so publicly.
A large number of the more lunatic Christians believe that a vast number of guillotines are already in storage in the US, presumably in preparation for their use by the beast. Alternatively, they are to be used by the New World Order.
 Other uses of the term
Are various: the most common are an office device for chopping paper (and fingers for the uncareful) and a legislative process for getting laws through quickly.
- ↑ http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1172/does-the-head-remain-briefly-conscious-after-decapitation
- ↑ guillotinebeheading.com (archived by the Wayback Machine)
- ↑ http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/02/09/421882/santorum-obama-has-put-america-on-the-path-of-executing-religious-people-by-decapitation/
- ↑ Serge Monast: "A massive new crematorium has recently been completed in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the now disused Amtrak railroad terminal, and an investigator has reported that he has received information from some of those who helped to build the facility that guillotines have been installed for those who arrive alive instead of dead." Quoted in: Dart, D. "Political Organizations in Place that are driving progress towards the 'New Age, NWO' and the role of the 'new Technology' in ensuring total control in this Godless World Order." Presented at World In Crisis, Brisbane, 1996-11-30.